He was as passionate about baseball as he was about justice.
That’s a good way to remember Ontario Superior Court judge Randy Echlin, who passed away on Friday after a courageous battle with cancer at age 60.
Despite several conversations with Randy over the past decade, it wasn’t until about five years ago that I realized I was speaking to a judge. The modest Toronto native never boasted about his more than 30 years as Canada’s foremost authority on employment law.
With some research, I discovered that Randy had been one of Canada’s top employment lawyers with Borden, Ladner, Gervais for 25 years, representing some of the nation’s largest companies in labour disputes. Eight years ago, he became a judge at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and presided over more than 100 employment law cases. Along the way, he also authored seven influential employment law books.
But it’s as a baseball fan that I knew Randy. His knowledge of the game would’ve made him a great sports radio host and his tireless support of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the key reasons that the institution has survived. Most recently, he served as the chair of the inductee selection committee for the St. Marys, Ont.-based ball shrine.
Despite the lofty position he held in the courtroom, Randy was never above helping out the Hall of Fame with menial tasks, often chauffeuring celebrities back to Toronto after the induction ceremonies. I had the privilege of sitting with Randy and his son, Rob, at Baseball Canada’s annual fundraising banquet in 2009. His passion for baseball was evident at this function, as was his pride for his family. My condolences go out to Randy’s wife, Ann and his children, Rob and Libby.
Randy was also an avid reader of this blog and often encouraged me to keep writing when I was feeling particularly disillusioned. I’ll be forever thankful for his support.
In this sad time, perhaps his family can take some solace in knowing that Randy touched and influenced many lives – including mine – in a profound and positive way, and was highly respected in both Canada’s courtrooms and in the country’s baseball community.
A memorial service will be held for Randy on September 10 at 2 p.m. at the Leaside United Church, 822 Millwood Road in Toronto. Charitable and fully tax deductible donations in Randy’s memory can be made to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, Box 1838, 386 Church Street South, St. Marys, Ontario N4X 1C2. Condolences and memories can be shared online at www.humphreymiles.com