Long-time Maritime broadcaster Bill Jessome dies

Bill Jessome, a well-known Maritime broadcaster and one of the pioneer voices in Nova Scotia television, has died at the age of 88.

Family and friends reflect on kindness and spirit of Maritime Mysteries host

Broadcaster Bill Jessome died Monday night in Halifax at the age of 88. (Twitter)

Bill Jessome, a well-known Maritime broadcaster and one of the pioneer voices in Nova Scotia television, has died at the age of 88.

In a statement, his family said Jessome died Monday night in Halifax following a distinguished career as a journalist and television host.

"In this business you meet powerful egos that sometimes can't get out of the way of their own persona. There was none of that with Bill," said his nephew Phonse Jessome, a journalist at CBC.

"He was always that 15-year-old boy in the Pier delivering groceries to make money for his family. He stuck to those humble roots and no matter whether he was talking with a prime minister, a prince, a coal miner or a fisherman, he treated everyone the same way — and his colleagues the same way."

Bill Jessome was born in Sydney on Jan. 11, 1925 and grew up in the neighbourhood of Whitney Pier before serving overseas in the Italian Campaign of the Second World War.

As a journalist, Jessome worked in Boston before taking on the role as evening anchor at CJCB television in Cape Breton, which eventually became part of ATV and then CTV.

"Bill was a master storyteller. He mastered sound, he mastered the use of pictures and also the written and spoken word," said Janice Landry, a former CTV reporter.

Bill Jessome (right) with his nephew, CBC's Phonse Jessome, pose with his lifetime achievement award from the RTDNA. (Twitter)

"When I started green out of the University of King's College 26 years ago, Bill was one of two people who really came on board and helped me when I was very nervous and uncertain about myself and he was there for me."

Jessome, who was also an actor, hosted the Maritime Mysteries series and for many years was the face of the annual Cape Breton broadcast of the CTV Christmas Daddies Telethon.

He also had a passion for news documentaries that explored the province's roots and authored several books on supernatural Maritime history.

"By age 65, when he ought to have been thinking about retirement, he came up with this concept for Maritime Mysteries, which he crafted into this amazing series of ghost stories that he became so well known for," said Phonse Jessome.

"It's a voice I'll hear forever. It's the traditional, classic television storyteller's voice and if you think about his career, he pioneered that sound. He was among the first."

Bill Jessome was honoured this year with a lifetime achievement award from RTDNA Canada, which described him as one of the best-known local TV news anchors in Cape Breton and a founding figure of Maritime television.

With files from The Canadian Press


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