CJSR legend Bruce Stovel, 1941-2007

I knew Bruce Stovel a little because his radio show, CJSR FM88's popular and long-running Calling All Blues, followed mine on CJSR on Wednesday nights. He was a kind and gentle man, thoughtful and respectful, and passionate about blues music, CJSR, and from what I could see, his son and co-host, Grant.

In the most recent (and obviously the final) conversation I had with Bruce, I asked him, since he was my elder, if he had any advice for me because I'd just become a father. He told me that having kids is the biggest thing there is. Sometimes it's the biggest anxiety and fear, but mostly it's the biggest love. The fact that he and Grant worked for so many years together on the same show (a relationship that I imagine is rare, if perhaps unique, in Canadian radio), speaks to how close the two of them obviously were (and are).

I hope that my relationship with my daughter, and my children yet to be born, will be as close as was Bruce's and Grant's.

Grant Stovel writes: "Joseph Bruce Stovel, "Ph.D. Magna Cum Laude in English at Harvard University in 1970, Bruce was Assistant Professor at Yale University 1970-75, Associate Professor at Dalhousie University 1975-85, where he served as Department Chair, and Professor of English at the University of Alberta, where he twice served as Associate Chair and Supervisor of Graduate Teaching Assistants. He retired on June 30, 2006, as Professor Emeritus, to become, in his own words, a patron of the arts.

"His special area was literature of the eighteenth century, particularly fiction and comedy. He published essays on Richardson, Sterne, Smollett, Burney, Austen, Lennox, Scott, George Eliot, Kingsley Amis, Margaret Drabble, Brian Moore, Mordecai Richler, and Margaret Laurence, but his special love was Jane Austen. He co-edited two collections of essays on Austen and contributed to The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. He co-founded the Edmonton chapter of the Jane Austen Society, co-hosted a Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting at the Chateau Lake Louise in 1993, and contributed to many JASNA AGMs and local chapters in Edmonton and elsewhere.

"Bruce was a dedicated teacher, and was awarded the Students' Union Teaching Award, the Faculty of Arts Teaching Award, and the University of Alberta Rutherford Teaching Award. As much as he achieved academically, his greatest impact was felt at a personal level. He was a beloved husband and father, teacher and colleague, musicman and friend. Bruce was an enthusiastic presence on campus and on the local arts scene, and he was a generous volunteer in academic, artistic, and humanitarian causes.

"Bruce loved blues music as much as literature, and he worked as a volunteer at the Yardbird Suite, where he organized Blues events. Beginning in the mid-1990s, he co-hosted with his son Grant "Calling All Blues," a weekly Blues program on CJSR, the University of Alberta radio station, as well as contributing to CKUA. Following his early career as a journalist reporting for The Montreal Star and Canadian Press in the early sixties in Montreal, he wrote a Blues column titled "Long-Distance Call," and reported on the Edmonton Folkfest, the Edmonton Bluesfest, and the Chicago Bluesfest.

"He died suddenly on January 12, 2007. He will be much missed and deeply mourned by his loving wife of forty-two years Nora Foster Stovel, his son Grant Foster Stovel, and his daughter Laura Elizabeth Stovel and son-in-law Rod Girard, as well as his brother Robb Stovel and his sister Margaret Surridge and their families.

"A celebration of Bruce's life will be held at the University of Alberta Faculty Club on Thursday, January 18, beginning at four o'clock. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to a scholarship in his memory. If you do wish to do so, please contact Elisabeth Whitlock at the Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, at 780-492-9473. A musical tribute to Bruce will be held at the Yardbird Suite at 11 Tommy Banks Way on Sunday, January 28, 7-10 in the evening. All are welcome to attend."

Comments

Heather said…
Thanks for such a lovely post on Bruce. I appreciate all the pics.
heathergilberds said…
i graduated from the honours english program at the u of a in 2002 and have spoken of bruce many times. he was one of the best professors i had throughout my academic pursuits.i found him to be an inspiation to me when i first started university and he guided me to the path i ended up pursuing academically. whenever i would see him, even 8 years after i was a student in a course with him, he would stop and take the time to see how i was. the last time i heard from him was january 8, 2007 when he emailed me to ensure he would get in the graduate references he had completed for me before the deadlines.i was absolutely shocked when i read of his passing on the bulletin board of cjsr.
his unique character was an inspiration to me. he spoke largely of the kind of individual i would like to become. i have spoken of him frequently in the past few years and will continue to speak fondly of him in years to come.

heather gilberds
Terry Donovan said…
Thanks for your comments at Bruce's memorial at the Faculty Club, which are echoed here. Bruce was a great friend and his attitude towards fellow djs reflected how he felt about his children.
Like Bruce did, you must retire early or you would know that Bruce and Grant's father/son relationship in radio is not unique. Later on in CJSR's programming schedule on Wednesdays The Shoebox features father/son co-hosts Pete The Rocker and his son Brian. Good show-worth catching.

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