Sportscaster Don Cameron dies after brief illness

A man who spent more than half a century as one of the most prominent sportscasters in Waterloo Region has died.

Don Cameron died Thursday “after a brief illness,” according to the Kitchener Rangers hockey team.

Cameron is best known professionally for his association with the Rangers. As the team’s play-by-play broadcaster for most of its existence, Cameron covered the Rangers’ two Memorial Cup victories and the careers of such future NHL stars as Larry Robinson, Scott Stevens and Jeff Skinner.

According to the team, Cameron broadcast more than 4,000 Rangers games over 50 years – including making occasional appearances in the booth after his 2015 retirement. His final broadcast came this spring, as part of the Rangers’ run to the third round of the playoffs.

He also had a 19-year career at CTV Kitchener as a sportscaster.

Rangers chief operating officer Steve Bienkowski first met Cameron in 1979, when he joined the team as a player. Even then, he says, the broadcaster’s talent and humility were obvious.

“He never wanted to be part of the limelight,” Bienkowski said Thursday.

Over time, Cameron became, as Bienkowski describes it, “the dean of junior Canadian hockey broadcasting” – even if he never saw himself that way, not even when the team wanted to hold a celebration for him upon his retirement.

“I think he was almost embarrassed by that,” Bienkowski said.

“He couldn’t quite understand what the awe was all about.”

Cameron’s tenure with the Rangers included becoming the face of Don Cameron Potato Night, an annual effort to collect food and monetary donations for the House of Friendship. The most recent Potato Night event brought in more than 500,000 pounds of potatoes.

Mike Farwell, the current Rangers broadcaster who worked with Cameron for several years, described the P.E.I. native as “the finest gentleman you’ll ever want to meet.”

“Sadness does not begin to describe my feelings,” he wrote.

Funeral arrangements for Cameron have not been made public.