It is with great sadness that we announce that Nic Wry passed away on Friday from complications of Covid, with his loving wife Judy by his side, and his two children, their spouses, and his four granddaughters in his heart.
Nic was born in Toronto, ON and moved west in 1974 to work at the new television station – ITV. It was in Edmonton that Nic met and married Judy – the love of his life. Together they raised two children; he was so incredibly proud of them, and loved to spend time with them and their families.
Music was very important in his life and in addition to wonderful singing around the piano, he enjoyed having Benjamin Britten, the British composer, as his godfather.
Nic and Judy were avid travellers. They particularly enjoyed cruising and have cruised the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Baltics, Alaska, Transatlantic etc. Nic’s favorite travel destination was their family cottage in Saint John NB. Nic had spent every summer of his life at the cottage, and it was an integral part of his life. In the last number of years, Nic and Judy we would jump in their red convertible and drive to the east coast – splitting time between the cottage and Tyler and Elaine’s house in Philadelphia. Enjoying the long drive, seeing different parts of both Canada and the US, they sang along to the radio and had great conversations. Of these trips, they said: “We were always delighted to realize that after 40 plus years of marriage that we still liked each other!!”
And the time at the cottage was always so fun. Lots of family and friends, great food and drink, and lively and entertaining conversation. A favorite memory is sitting at the dining room table after dinner with Nic leading everyone in singing silly and irreverent songs! And last year when Kristine and Chris purchased a player piano it just upped the fun!
On one of the trips to New Brunswick, Nic and Judy were with extended family at a restaurant, where Nic announced that the pies here were the best on earth and everyone should eat pie before they had their meal. So everyone began with a giant slice of delicious coconut cream pie … a life lesson from Nic we should all do well to consider.
Nic was an avid train fan. He loved travelling on trains and enjoyed collecting model trains. Isolating for over a year gave Nic the time he needed to set up and get all of his trains running – the basement is now full of model trains in all scales, and he so enjoyed watching the granddaughters have fun running the trains and blowing the whistles!!
Nic was an Emmy-nominated acclaimed television and film executive and an influential pioneer in the Alberta film and television community, and his family confirms was the best father, husband, and grandfather anyone could ask for. If you had the privilege of knowing Nic, you knew he was larger than life, and his warmth, generosity and zest for living infused everything he did.
Nic graduated in 1972 from Ryerson Polytechnic University’s Radio and Television Arts Program and began his career in broadcasting at CityTV, first as master control operator and moving up to technical producer during the stations’ first two years. He then moved west to work at ITV in Edmonton shortly after its launch. Nic worked his way up the ITV ladder from Supervisor of On Air Operations to Producer to Vice President of Creative, Business and Industry Affairs. Nic was even instrumental in creating the stations’ original distinctive on-air look. He moved up to Vice-President of Business Affairs for Allarcom, and then with the merger of WIC and Allarcom, he widened his scope to include WIC’s Broadcast holdings, and became more involved in industry affairs and policy as it related to Canadian production exhibition and distribution. Serving as a Director of the Canadian Television Fund during its formative years, Nic’s particular emphasis was sensitizing it to regional issues-a legacy that endures today. In Nic’s many positions at ITV, he was Production Manager for the Tommy Banks Show, and Producer of the ITV In Concert Series with internationally acclaimed artists including Henry Mancini, Loretta Lynn and Ray Charles. He was also a Producer of the classic and enduring sketch comedy series SCTV for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Program. Attending the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles as a nominee and sitting with the cast from MASH was one of his many career highlights.
Nic also conceived of, developed, and produced the 2004 medical comedy movie ‘Intern Academy’ written and directed by Dave Thomas using a unique cast improv process. The movie was shot entirely in Edmonton, and starred Dan Ackroyd and Dave Thomas, with hilarious cameos by Maury Chaykin, Dave Foley, Matt Frewer, Shaun Johnston, and many Edmonton and Alberta comedy and acting talents, as well as a strong Alberta crew.
Recipient of AMPIA’s (Alberta Motion Picture Industry Awards) Friend of the Industry Award in 2000, Nic lived up to that title as a passionate supporter of Canadian programming. He spent most of his career either making original Canadian programming, or mentoring others to help them make original Canadian programming. This insatiable passion for the industry was further demonstrated when he stepped out of retirement in order to lead the charge to apply for and successfully win the Canadian Pay TV licence for the new Superchannel. At a time when broadcast consolidation was serving to reduce the number of broadcasters that independent producers could go to for funding, Nic put all the pieces together in an incredibly competitive environment in order to win the broadcast license to start a new independent channel that has been instrumental in supporting hours and hours of original Canadian content, all with a head office in Edmonton.
In addition to the Canadian Television Fund, Nic served on the Board of Directors for many other organizations, including as Chair of the CAB Canadian Production Committee, seven years as Director of the Banff Television Festival, and long time Board Member and President of AMPIA.
As tributes pour in and the stories are told, it is very clear that Nic lived an impressive life, and had an incredible impact on the people around him. He was a great mentor, and encouraged and supported others in achieving their personal and career dreams.
He was kind and generous – always welcoming, helping and accepting others.
He was an inspiration to all who knew him, and brought pure joy to every person he met.
One co-worker said: “Nic was a force of nature. He was often the smartest person in the room, and was famous for his high-powered energy, his passion and his logic. He came into a room and the sun shone brighter. He was a great friend”
Another co-worker: “Nic was great to work with. If it was wild and wonderfully fun, Nic was involved! He had a kind heart and a passion for life that was contagious.”
From his family: “He taught us all a lot, but most of all, he taught that life is meant to be enjoyed. Oh, and that life is too short to eat bad food.”
Nic was just plain fun.
Our hearts are with his family and friends, as we all come to terms with the reality that our gentle and joyful Nic has departed this life. He is survived by his loving wife Judy; son Tyler (Elaine) of Philadelphia, daughter Kristine (Chris) of Edmonton; beloved grandchildren Valkyrie, Griffin, Kendall and Mackenzie; sister Susanna (Charles) of Fredericton; nephew Miro (Jasmin) and grand-niece Ellie of Sebastopol; and many other family members.
A distanced, covid-style funeral without singing would not do justice to our beloved Nic and so our celebration of his life will be deferred until it is safe to gather and sing together again.
We will do as he wished by singing all 7 verses of Vaughan Williams arrangement of For All the Saints Who From Their Labours Rest complete with trumpet voluntary. Of course we will also sing Nic’s other favourites, including the Battle Hymn of the Republic and Jerusalem – what he called Anglo-Saxon Sentimentality.
We are so grateful for our time with Nic. He enriched our lives immeasurably.
Love never ends. (1 Corinthians, 13:8)
A memorial donation may be made to the Victoria School Foundation for the Arts (a scholarship is being set up in Nic’s name) 10210 108 Avenue NW, Edmonton Alberta T5H1A8, or to the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA), Winspear Centre,9720 102 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T5E4T7. Tax receipts will be issued.