John Valorzi, a former editor of QP Briefing and longtime journalist with The Canadian Press, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday after surgery complications at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. He was in his 66th year.
Valorzi spent more than 40 years in journalism, including decades at CP that saw him become the wire agency's Washington, D.C., correspondent, Ontario news editor and Toronto business editor.
The hard-nosed, old-fashioned journalist made an impact on those he worked with.
Toronto Star reporter and Queen's Park press gallery president Rob Ferguson remembers Valorzi as someone passionate about his craft, and eager to pass on his enthusiasm and standards to others.
"He was a great teacher, a great mentor," said Ferguson of his former boss at CP. "He was also a lot of fun to work with. He could be hard to work with at times, but it was because he was pushing you to do better because he knew you could do better."
Ferguson describes Valorzi as a committed professional who was always on-call. He recalls one moment where he phoned him at 7 a.m. to ask if CP's Ontario desk should cover a car crash. But the other line was muffled because it was covered in shaving cream from Valorzi's face; the editor still felt the need to answer.
Ferguson says that beyond being a colleague he was also a friend. They would go out to Shopsy's Deli in Toronto and talk football; Valorzi would root for the Arizona Cardinals, his favourite team. "We would have a great time."
Former CP journalist Keith Leslie, a veteran of the Queen's Park beat, described Valorzi as great at getting scoops by playing the long game.
"He was a master at developing sources," said Leslie, who saw Valorzi work the hallways of the legislature in the 1980s. Valorzi, he said, developed sources who would want to chat with him and trust him, and he respected them enough to share information in the public interest at the right time.
The patience paid off. "He used to get so many scoops."
But he worked for his reputation, too. Leslie marvelled at his former colleague's energy. "He was a perpetual motion machine."
That energy could be felt away from Queen's Park, too. Leslie added it's hard to forget that Valorzi was once a feared power hitter for the CP Typos, the company softball team.
"He would hit it out to the road," recalled Leslie, adding that opposing teams would back up when he stepped up to the plate.
After retiring from a successful career at CP, Valorzi returned to Queen's Park to help lead a young team of journalists at QP Briefing.
"John was extremely driven," said TVO's John Michael McGrath, who worked with Valorzi at QP Briefing.
"He was nearly always the last to leave," added McGrath, explaining that Valorzi was a journalist with high standards who encouraged colleagues to continually improve their work.
Valorzi is survived by his wife Heather, daughters Deanna and Kara-Lane, mother Gliceria and sisters Sandra Tedesco and Lillie Loduca.
Funeral mass will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 11 Peter St. S., in Mississauga. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Kidney Foundation.