James MacDONALD

Obituary
  • "Jimmy, of the Good Queen Bess Pub, always friendly with a..."
    - Gerd Trubenbach
  • "Jim was one of the unforgettable characters who made radio..."
  • "I got to enjoy Jim's sense of humour and intelligence while..."
    - Helen Eddy
  • "Jim was an important part of my start in broadcasting at..."
  • "Farewell to a unique man who was so much fun to be around. ..."

MacDONALD, James (Jim/Kiwi)
1930 – 2018
It is with sad hearts and great sorrow that we announce the passing of James (Jim/Kiwi) Macdonald of Ladner, BC, on May 29, 2018 at the age of 87. He is survived by his wife Bernice (Bea), stepson John Sumner (Catrin Owen), Louisa Flinn and grandchildren Madelaine, Alexandra, Ben and Emmy. James was born and raised in New Zealand, immigrating to Vancouver, Canada in time for his 21st birthday. After working for a brief time at the Shell Oil Company he was hired by CHWK Radio station in Chilliwack, writing commercials and playing piano "live" at noon. He worked his way into the news room and eventually became editor. In December of 1956, Canada's worst air disaster turned into the broadcast "scoop" that changed Jim's life forever. In the spring following the winter tragedy, and acting on a tip, Jim (Vancouver CKWX Radio's stringer in the Fraser Valley) broke the story that mountaineer Elfrida Pigou and two companions had found fuselage wreckage on Mt. Slesse near Chilliwack. They got the broadcast story of the year. The next day CKWX hired Jim away from the Fraser Valley, introducing him to big city radio. He supplemented his broadcasting income by playing piano at the Smilin' Buddha Cabaret, where he met beautiful Bernice Ortwein-for the first time. She was the love of his life-he just didn't know it at the time. After a storied career in radio as crime beat and city hall reporter, Jim became a talk show host and interviewer known for his ability to use the pregnant pause to get his guests to open up. From radio he became a well-known face on Channel 8 (black and white) television. Jim later returned to Chilliwack and the cabaret would as co- founder of the Answer Cabaret with his partner and fellow bon vivant, Bill Wosk. When the cabaret sold, Jim became a food and beverage executive with the Harrison Hot Springs Hotel for 14 years. Later, he was the manager of the Lougheed Hotel in Vancouver, and the hotel owners sent him to his homeland down under to conduct business in Auckland and Wanganui. After over a year in New Zealand, he returned to Vancouver to open downtown's Suites at Conference Plaza. At this time, serendipity smiled on Jim once more and he and Bea met again at a funeral for a mutual friend. Thirty years since their last meeting, the flame was still alight, at in 2000, eager not to make the same mistake twice, Jim and Bea began a life together. They have lived lovingly and harmoniously for 18 blissful years in South Pointe, Ladner BC. Kiwi-a brilliant raconteur, a gentleman with the kindest heart, and a faithful friend to so many, will be much missed and remembered with love and laughter. Until we meet again, we expect you to be telling jokes and tickling the ivories in that most glamorous of cabaret venues. Good night, sweet Prince. You are invited to leave a personal message of condolence at the family's online obituary at
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Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services
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Published in Vancouver Sun and/or The Province from June 2 to June 3, 2018
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