For those of us that grew up in Ottawa, Max Keeping was a daily friend in our home on the 6 o'clock news. From the dark, curly hair of his younger days, to the white hair of recent years, he was everyone's feel good guy. Mr. Keeping was a true giver. He gave of himself to support many charities and was at many events over the years.
It has been a day of tears and memories for many at CTV Ottawa and many of you who felt Max was part of your family as well. The city of Ottawa is in mourning tonight, honoring a man who gave voice to this community like no other, to hospitals, seniors, children, even musicians at the National Arts Centre. Max once conducted the orchestra there to show his support for the arts. Today, the NAC lowered its flag in his memory.
‘The amount of money he raised, the amount of money he gave to people in need,’ says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, ‘he was a humanitarian above and beyond anything else.’
Former co-workers, friends and family members took to Facebook today to share their favorite photos with Max. On CTV at noon today, they were sharing their favorite stories.
Al MacKay, the former station manager for then CJOH-TV, first met Max in 1970.
‘I went to the Hill as rookie reporter,’ Mackay recalls, ‘he took me under his wing, kept me out of trouble, also introduced me to beer, court and Hull but we won't talk about that now.’
Long-time anchor Kimothy Walker counted Max as one of her closest friends.
‘I was there the night before he died,’ she says, ‘and I got to hold his hand and he liked me to rub his head. For me that's the most special thing; that after this special journey I was able to be there when he was most vulnerable.’
Cameraman Harvey Gencher was at CTV 34 of Max's 37 years, behind the scenes, he adds, but he says Max never made him feel that way.
‘He told me, ‘Harv, never assume anything, go for it and do your best and I live that to this day.’
Dan Champagne was the General Sales Manager at CTV Ottawa, ‘He was big to everybody, except himself, really,’ says Champagne.
Former Ottawa Mayor Jim Durrell considered Max a close friend and travelled with him to sporting events.
‘There will never be another Max Keeping,’ says Durrell, ‘It was an honor and privilege to be his friend.’
They are thoughts echoed by Paul Brent. The tough former assignment editor remembers this tender exchange with his boss.
‘Every day after newscast was done, Max would be on his way out, I would be working away. He would stop and say thank you, Paul. Well, thank you Max,’ Brent added, choking up with tears.