Editorial

‘For the Sun who scatter’d into flight, The stars before him from the field of night’

Peter C. Newman May 7 1979
Editorial

‘For the Sun who scatter’d into flight, The stars before him from the field of night’

Peter C. Newman May 7 1979

‘For the Sun who scatter’d into flight, The stars before him from the field of night’

Editorial

Peter C. Newman

The name of Thomas Nicholas Liston, production editor of this magazine, appears on the Maclean's masthead below for the final time. He died last week at the age of 48. Those of us who were his colleagues and friends (for it was impossible to be one without becoming the other) mourn his passing not only for what he was, but for what he represented.

Somewhat old-fashioned in his habits and attitudes, he touched us all with his natural kindness and courtly manners. He joined our editorial department in the summer of 1976, after spending eight years latterly as chief proofreader at the Maclean-Hunter printing plant, and it was Liston who devised the copy-flow system that made the magazine work. His main assignment was to expedite the movement of stories from editors to printers. He would gracefully lope around the office, applying a combination of humorous needling and moral suasion to help us meet all those impossible deadlines. He cared passionately about accuracy, grammar and style, putting in crazy hours applying the meticulous disciplines he had learned as a compositor’s apprentice in his native Galway.

But his greatest talent was for friendship and he left everybody feeling the better for knowing him. Practising the silky-tongued blarney that was his birthright, his style was that of a solitary man who lived through

the pleasure he gave others. It was that special loneliness of an extrovert which made him so remarkable.

His wit was never cruel but Tom loved practical jokes. While working at the M-H printing plant, Liston found out that one of the pressmen hated to eat spinach, because he claimed you never knew what you might find in it. Tom bought a green rubber frog in a joke shop and patiently carried it around in his pocket until spinach came up on the cafeteria menu. He ordered some, joined his friend for lunch and unobtrusively slipped the toy animal into his mouth—then started pulling it out, leg by leg, agreeing with a show of feigned innocence that indeed it was true: you never did know what you might find in a plateful of spinach!

A trivia nut, he could recite whole scenes in all the appropriate dialects from old Hitchcock thrillers, relive the detail of every boxing championship going, and spot the precedent for all the major-league batting combinations. He organized the office baseball pool, but, as was so typical of him, always voted with his heart and sometimes walked around in a Boston Red Sox cap to prove it.

As the cancer that became more of a curse than an illness began to eat his insides, he insisted on not missing a day’s work.

Decency and dignity were the words that described Tom Liston best.

We shall miss him.