Family, friends and the Sault’s broadcast journalism community - along with countless viewers and listeners - are mourning the passing of Karl Sepkowski.
Sepkowski died at Newmarket Health Centre on Monday after a battle with cancer.
He was 81.
Born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and a resident of the community for most of his life, Sepkowski was the most familiar face and voice on Sault TV and radio newscasts for decades.
Sepkowski began his career in 1957 as a student with CKCY Radio.
Just six years later, he was promoted to news director, becoming the youngest person in Canada to serve in that role.
“My Dad was ‘the authoritative news voice’ in Sault Ste. Marie. That was a tagline used in promoting the local news. I’ve been on social media and I’ve had some friends commenting that they remember his authoritative news voice,” said Sepkowski’s son Matt, speaking to SooToday.
“He felt it was really important for the people of Sault Ste. Marie to know what was going on. He was very passionate about the news and sharing stories with people in the community.”
Matt Sepkowski remembers his father’s dedication to bringing the day’s news stories to the Sault.
“I remember getting up in the morning when I was a young kid and he’d be sitting at the kitchen table at six o’clock in the morning getting ready to go to work. When he was a news anchor for a good part of his career, that included the six o’clock television newscast so he wouldn’t get home until seven or seven-thirty at night quite frequently. He was very dedicated to the work that he did.”
Sepkowski said he also had a strong sense of loyalty to family members from a young age.
“My father’s family lived on Goulais Avenue near one of the steel plant gates. His father worked there and he died when my Dad was 11, and my Dad was responsible for supporting his mother, brother and sister. He went to work on the boats at a young age to support his family.”
“He was a very gentle man. He was always very kind and supportive of our family even though he was always very busy with work. He genuinely cared about people. He was six-foot-three but a very gentle man. He was very warm, very easy to talk to, which was an attribute of the type of career he had.”
As an anchor with CKCY, CJIC, MCTV and in later years with Rock 101 and as a freelancer, Sepkowski reported on everything, from interviewing political leaders to sharing light-hearted stories with his audience.
Sepkowski’s health began to fail beginning in 2012, having lived the last 10 years of his life at Newmarket Health Centre, a long term care home in Newmarket, Ontario, to be near his family.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, his son said.
“The thing I really reflect on now was just how appreciative he was, how happy he was for the support of his family and medical staff. He was very conversational and had a very positive mindset despite the bad prognosis (of cancer).”
Sepkowski said his father, like a true veteran newsman, kept a journal when in isolation during repeated lockdowns at his long term care home throughout the pandemic.
“He literally lived and breathed local news.”
According to his obituary, he passed away peacefully with family by his side.
His parents were the late Walter and Jean Sepkowski.
He was an older brother to the late Ted Sepkowski (late Judy Sepkowski) and Regina Caron (late James Caron). He was a husband to Sheila and a proud father to Mathew (Jodi), Sonya (Mike) and Alysia (Dan). He had five grandchildren Lydia, Lauren, Bradley, Jacob and Adam.
In keeping with Sepkowski's wishes, there will be no funeral service. His family will hold a small celebration of life in the summer.