Ralph Noseworthy, the longtime CFCF-12 reporter who covered the National Assembly for almost two decades, has died after suffering a heart attack. He was 81.

Noseworthy’s family confirmed he passed away at home on Dec. 26, surrounded by loved ones, including his wife Nancy.

“He was a very charismatic guy,” said Nancy. “His job, he loved it, it was his life. He didn’t count the hours, he wanted to get the work done and he didn’t take no for an answer.”

While Noseworthy was known for hounding MNAs, cabinet minister and premiers in Quebec City - a habit that earned him the nickname Ralph Newsworthy - Nancy said his greatest joy was when his work made a difference to those not in positions.

“He really was an advocate… to go out there and help the underdog and make sure they got what they deserved. He did a lot of good there and he felt good about it,” she said. “If he helped solve a problem for a family, he’d go back there and make sure everything was okay a few days later. He’d come in with a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken for the kids.”

Still, his time at the National Assembly had him hobnobbing with some of Quebec’s most powerful figures. Nancy remembered her husband hounding Rene Levesque in the capitol, mixing persistence with good cheer and humour.

“In the morning, Mr. Levesque didn’t want to start too early with the questions but Ralph would be waiting for him,” she said. “As soon as he stepped out of his limousine, he would have a coffee for him and even a cigarette sometime. ‘Here’s to get you going, then we can have a little talk.’”

If that humour was unconventional in the often rigid world of political reporting, it was part of a larger appreciation for adventure that often found its way into Noseworthy’s work.

“He didn’t like to follow the news of the day. He was always looking for a scoop,” said CTV Montreal cameraman Jean-Luc Boulch, who worked with Noseworthy in Quebec City. “It wasn’t uncommon for him to say ‘Just grab your camera and follow.’ We’d wait for somebody in an elevator or do something that was a bit unconventional, but Ralph always got a story.”

His off-the-beaten path approach showed inarguable results. On the day the Meech Lake Accord was signed, almost every political journalist was there to witness it – except Noseworthy. He had gotten his hands on the Quebec budget a day early, sending Robert Bourassa’s finance minister at the time into a panic.

Noseworthy's method for obtaining the document? Taping together a shredded copy he had found in the trash. 

Ultimately, the government decided to read the budget a day early, in order to beat Noseworthy to the punch.

In recent years, Noseworthy’s health suffered as he battled diabetes and a broken hip. Still, his reporter’s instincts didn’t desert him.

“In retirement, we had some great times,” said Nancy. “We travelled a lot, all over the world. He was always interested and questioning people.”

Noseworthy is survived by Nancy, his daughter Cathy and grandchildren Paulina and Zachary, as well as his sister-in-law Sylvia.  

A funeral will be held on Jan. 6 in Stoneham-and-Tewkesbury, QC.