Published on October 14th, 2015 | by Robert Barry Francos0
Rest in Peace, Wes Funk
Saskatchewan lost a booster of the writing arts scene and a lovable local character with the passing of Wes Funk. Robert Barry Francos remembers Wes.
When I heard about Saskatoon writer Wes Funk passing suddenly in his sleep at the age of 46, it came as a deep shock to me, the local writing community, and to his many fans around the world.
I first became aware of Wes when my partner bought me his first novel, Dead Rock Stars, when I first moved to Saskatoon from Brooklyn in 2009. It was an interesting story about a gay man who lives in this city, goes home to rural Saskatchewan to visit his religious family, and yet still manages to possibly find some happiness along the way. Like his character, Wes was a fan of classic rock, hence the title, and even had a tattoo of the Nirvana logo on one arm, and the Carpenters’ logo on the other.
When I saw that Wes was having a book signing at the local McNally Robinson Bookstore in 2010, I brought my copy and had him sign it. As fates would have it, he was alone at the table which gave us time for a very nice chat about music and life. We talked about getting together again for coffee at some point.
After a few more conversations, Wes invited me to come on down to his Shaw Cable television show that focused on writers, called LIT Happens; some of them can be found online. I took my camera along, and was also interviewed for the show. It gave me the chance to give him a copy of a coffee table book about AC/DC which featured photos by me. As far as I know, I am still the only blogger he ever queried on the show. Afterwards, he drove us from the studio in the North End to the then-new downtown Tim Hortons, where we continued our talk.
His next book was Baggage, the story of, yes, a gay man looking for love in Saskatoon, who opens a shop in the area across the street from where Wes actually lived at the time, at the top of the Broadway Bridge. While Dead Rock Stars was a good book, I found this one an even better read. His writing was improving substantially, and he was no slouch to start. His third book was Cherry Blossoms, which was told from a woman’s perspective. It was a critical success, and for an independent release, sold quite well.
Over the years, I would see Wes frequently at events, such as Word on the Street, PRIDE, and even the 2012 Hafford Summer Sizzle (close to where Wes grew up), where I would take his picture. He was quite proficient at promoting himself and his work, and always had a smile for anyone who would approach him. When he made the cover of the first issue of Bridges, a weekly magazine produced by the Saskatoon Star Phoenix daily newspaper, it was a nice nod.
After getting quite a few shots of him, I gathered a bunch of my photos together onto a disk, and gave it to him, which he thanked me by mentioning me into the acknowledgements of his next book, a memoir wittily titled Wes Side Story. I told him I was going to buy a copy, but he insisted he wanted to give it to me, instead. But he never had the chance.
Likewise I had some rock music-focused books I wanted to give him, but a bad back and health issues always managed to come in the way. Still, we talked via IM on Facebook from time to time. His announcement of moving to Edmonton recently took me by surprise, but kind of made sense as it is definitely a bigger market.
While his loves of comic books and music, and his authorship is what most people will remember, and rightfully so, what will stick for me is his smile, his sense of humor, and his outgoing and friendly attitude. He was a good man, with a big heart, and his passing will affect many, including me.
Sleep well, Wes. Your stories will live on.