Calgary honours Whalen
By MICHELLE MARK -- Calgary Sun
Calgarians young and old bid broadcaster, philanthropist and gentleman Ed Whalen farewell last night at an emotional tribute at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Some 2,000 fans and people whose lives had been personally touched by Whalen paid homage to a one-of-a-kind Calgarian -- giving a standing ovation as his wife Nomi and family filed in.
"If the measure of a man is in the number of people he touches, Ed Whalen is a giant," said former broadcast co-host Brenda Finley.
A pillar of strength in Calgary wrestling, Bret (The Hitman) Hart fought back tears as he said goodbye to his friend.
"Ed Whalen was such a good man with a big heart," he said.
"He was Calgary through and through."
Whalen, a 74-year-old retired broadcaster and Sun columnist, was having lunch with his wife at a friend's Florida-home patio earlier this month when he went into cardiac arrest, dying in hospital a few days later.
"Ed understood what a higher calling was all about," Mayor Dave Bronconnier said of the man who devoted his life to helping others.
"Ed Whalen was truly one of Calgary's foremost citizens. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten."
Alberta Premier Ralph Klein worked with Whalen as a journalist before entering politics.
"He cared about those who had problems and those that needed help," he said.
"And that is what I will always remember about Ed Whalen."
As Nomi looked on with strength and resolve to celebrate the life of her beloved husband, who she calls "my best friend, my fellow- traveller through life," the Saddledome Jumbotron projected snippets of Whalen's accomplished career.
"All of us are the better for having Ed Whalen in our lives," she said shortly before her son Tony read an Irish blessing in his father's honour.
As a lineup of friends and colleagues shared their happy memories and their grief, Whalen's kind and passionate spirit enveloped the crowd with each and every guest quietly reflecting on their own memories of the man who is now a legend.
His friend Andy Lee openly wept as he said his fond farewell.
"Ed had a heart as big as the mountains he lived in and, oh, he loved to dance."