On a day when his friends and loved ones will gather at Glebe Road United Church in Toronto to honour the life of the late Charles Oberdorf, we take a moment to recollect how the Canadian magazine industry knew him back in June, 2008, when Charles was presented with the NMAF’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Charles, who passed away on September 16, served for nine years on the board of directors of the NMAF and was board president in 1993-1994. He was also twice a National Magazine Award winner for his writing, and was known to many in the industry as an editor, columnist, consultant, volunteer, teacher, mentor and friend.
As an editor and a writer, he always hewed to the best traditions in magazine journalism, enriching the lives of Canadian readers and setting an example for Canadian journalists.
As a teacher, writer, volunteer, mentor, manager and friend, he touched more people in the Canadian [magazine] industry than seems possible for one guy.
Charles has always been a fighter, for what I believe are all the right reasons – justice, equality, quality.
Everyone has two or three truly effective teachers: Charles is one of mine.
[Charles] has performed his duties as an educator with his usual good humour, considerable charm, kind mentorship and impressive vocabulary.
I don’t know how to express this other than to say he simply “got it” when so many others didn’t.
When I think about Charles, the first thing that pops to mind is his distinctive, rolling laughter – the delight of a man connecting his fine mind with ideas and other people.
[E]verywhere he has worked, he has been a civilizing, sophisticated influence in the office and on the page.
I found Toronto Life’s Epicure column so clever, so wonderfully literary. I marveled that someone could do this. I soon learned it was a fellow named Oberdorf.
I’ve seen him take a room of desultory people and have them all wanting to be editors by the time he sits down.
Charles is a sophisticated writer; a thoughtful editor; a specialist in a magazine staple – the fine-living subjects of travel, design, food and wine; a man with a keen intellect and curiosity who has a knack for finding stories that engage; a magazine-lover.
Colleagues have been depositing more of their fondest memories of Charles over at the Canadian Magazines blog.
[Photo credit: Eugene Beck]