Liz Manley's "As I Am"

“While I was going through this in Vancouver, I later learned that Brian Orser was experiencing far greater trouble and personal anguish back in Toronto. Only a year earlier, Brian’s mother had passed away. He had a particularly difficult time dealing with that because he and his mother were very close. Now he and his family dad decided to spend a night together before Christmas. Because Brian would be rejoining the cast of Stars on Ice, he wouldn’t be able to spend the actual holiday with his family. His brother, Bobby, who suffered from a heart condition, arrived late to the family affair. A doctor’s appointment had held him up. But he was in good spirits because he’d been given a clean bill of health.

The next morning, Brian drove to Toronto, where he stopped at Toller’s house to pick up a painting. A couple of hours later, he was in his car en route to his home in Ottawa, when his cell phone rang. Within seconds, he learned that Bobby had died of a heart attack.

I didn’t know what to say to Brian when I heard about his tragedy. Other than to express my sympathy and to let him know that I was there if he needed me, I felt helpless.

Brian is one of the kindest men I know and he seems to have faced one crisis after another. In November 1998, I caught the stories that were flying around the media with respect to his homosexuality. The lawsuit that his former partner was dragging through the courts exposed Brian’s private life to the public and I was saddened for my friend. He wanted to keep that part of his life himself—not because he was embarrassed, but because he worried about how it might affect his family.

Brian is straightforward and honest. He has never backstabbed or turned on anyone and has always provided a shoulder for the downhearted to cry on. There isn’t a person in our business who doesn’t like him. I would do anything in the world for him and I hope he knows how much he is loved.”

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