Icon, trailblazer, rebel, one of a kind, entertainer: these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe Neil Macrae, who passed away on March 30, 2017 at his home in Palm Springs. His 40 year career as one of Vancouver’s most renowned sports broadcasters started when, just after his high school graduation, he walked into a Victoria radio station and asked for a job. He began by delivering the staff coffee and doing some copywriting before he was given air time. His career faced a number of trials and tribulations as many people know, but what many don’t know is that he was a broadcaster in Spuzzum, BC and Wetaskiwin, northern Alberta where, on his first night on the job, he was mugged when he walked home; “nice introduction to the town,” he would say when telling the story years later. Alberta didn’t hold his attention long and he moved to CFCP in Courtney, BC. But he became bored with small town news and sports, so he sold his furniture on the air, set a continuous loop to “Feeling Groovy” and drove, with his dog, in his convertible to join his friend’s stag at Vancouver’s Cecil Hotel. After his unexplained disappearance from CFCP he walked into CJOR in Vancouver and was hired on the spot by then Program Manager Neil Soper, who became his lifelong friend. He was a huge contributor at CJOR along with Greg Douglas, Jim Fraser, and Red Robinson. He was so successful doing what he does best that CKNW came calling as soon as he was available. Neil settled at CKNW and Rock 101 where he entertained Vancouver sports fans for the next 30 years. In the 1980s he realized he would have to set himself apart and he created his cranky and confrontational persona with his on-air sparring partners CKNW’s Brian (Frosty) Forst and Rock 101’s
BroJake’s Show, two heavy weights of spontaneous broadcasting. Neil was an entertainer at heart and no one was immune: hockey players, coaches and owners were the brunt of his rants he would say “if I called you out I meant it.” He didn’t care whether he was liked or disliked as long as people listened to him.
Off the air he was a different person. For 20 years he generously sponsored and led the Macrae/Parsons Golf Tournament and raised money for various charities. In 2003, after Kelowna battled forest fires he held a special Charity Golf Tournament, raising close to $1 million for the residents who were left homeless. He met the love of his life, non-golfer Laurie Rix, at a charity golf tournament. After he pulled out all stops courting her, they married and started their adventurous life together travelling to many world destinations including Australia and Norway and sharing their love of sunshine in Palm Springs, Mexico, Hawaii and Kelowna in the summer. He was thoughtful and loyal to his family and friends, he loved to get together over a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc and have a good bull – with the guys. He was an ardent dog lover and after his dog Mac 1 first passed away Mac 2 quickly followed. In his younger years he was a terrific athlete playing third base on the Super Country Softball team. Neil was one of a kind and in a class all of his own. He is deeply missed by his wife Laurie Rix Macrae, his sister Donna Macrae and her husband, and his many close friends.
His family would like to thank Dr. Karen Gelmon for her ongoing care and compassion and other oncologists at the BC Cancer Agency and his long time family doctor Brad Fritz. A private celebration of life will be held in May. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the BC Cancer Foundation in Neil’s honour.
www.bccancerfoundation.com/NeilMacrae – See more at: www.legacy.com/obituaries/theprovince/obituary.aspx?n=neil-macrae&pid=185022373#sthash.36mRaN0w.dpuf