Last Monday night he swung by his brother’s office to share a beer, tell a few stories and chat about the bikes he was working on.
At 5PM on Tuesday his “apprentice” Zach called and told him he’d be over in about an hour
Around 7 Zach called 911 and four hours later Bobbie breathed his last breath.
He was born just over 65 years ago to Pat and Gord and inherited their best qualities.
He liked to make people laugh, he loved to chat over a beer or a coffee, and he would always give encouragement or help if you needed it.
His favourite brother Fred and favourite sister Sue are heartbroken, along with Lynn and George, Jackson, Erik, Amanda and James and Steven and Kirsten, along with their two young ones George and Kaelynn. He loved us all generously and unconditionally.
Although all the ladies loved him, he remained a confirmed bachelor and would jest that he had no children “that could be proven in a court of law.”
In spite of our grief we are overwhelmed, grateful and comforted by the outpouring of condolences and support from so many of you. Childhood friends, Team WFO, the South Fork Hunt Club, the regulars from Eddie’s and especially those who stayed close and helped him so much during his dark years following his accident. Thanks so much for the calls, texts, pictures and especially the hugs.
Although he was more Christlike than many who claim the faith, Bob wasn’t a religious man, so there will be no service.
If you are so inclined, please pray for him, and for our family and his friends to be comforted. And thank God for the privilege of getting to know him.
If you have a less formal belief in heaven, smile at the thought of him sharing some beers and catching up with Kelly, Foo, Jimmy, Al, and his other friends who went before him. And just imagine how hard Fido and Rocky are wagging their tails as they see him crossing the rainbow bridge.
So, no funeral, but we all know he loved a party, so stay tuned. It will probably be a few months from now, but we are already planning a great celebration.
All the cliches fit – one of a kind, broke the mold, free spirit - you will tell and hear the stories at the wake. As well as being an adventurer, he also loved reading, watching history and nature channels, and researching on his “internet machine” so he could share that knowledge and his life’s lessons with us, at length and on many topics. With the years he became somewhat of a philosopher, channelling two of his favourite celebrities – George Carlin and Red Skelton. The conversations were both witty and wise, and if you were lucky, he would throw in one or two of his classic “Bobservations”. Until he got himself a cell phone a few years ago, his answering machine would say “You have reached the house of Bob. If you are trying to sell something you must hang up now. All others may speak.”
Here is a bit of history for those who weren’t along for the entire journey.
Growing up in Falconbridge with summers at Windy Lake the early years were pretty normal. But he was adventurous beyond his years, getting into as much or more trouble than the rest of us. This let to quitting school and leaving home when he was 16, heading first to Onaping, then Toronto and then Alberta. At first this worried our poor mother, but she reflected on her own father leaving his home at 10 years old and travelling around the world, and soon grew comforted as Bobby demonstrated that he was also resourceful and wise beyond his years.
When he was in TO, he completed his high school diploma so he could work at good paying jobs and started out as a hoist mechanic apprentice at then Falconbridge Nickel. But adventure called and he hopped on his 1977 KZ650 and headed west. He worked at Slim’s Welding for two years and got his ticket, then headed back to Onaping and signed on again to his old job. Then came the layoffs and he headed west again, this time with a whole crew of friends who also lost their jobs. They lived in Sylvan Lake, and all found work on the rigs – those were wild times – young bachelors with big paycheques! After two prairie winters working the top of the derricks he went back to welding again and then back to school, this time to formally train in his true passion as a motorcycle mechanic.
Once he finished that apprenticeship it was back to Sudbury where he opened the legendary Rock City Cycle and the Rock Pile Racing Drag Team. The paycheques might have been smaller, but the times were just as wild – this is likely when most of you met him. After ten years he got tired of dealing with customers, suppliers, salespeople, paperwork, and having to work on snowmobiles in the offseason. He would often say “they make beer look like a good investment”. So, he packed up the shop and restricted his talents to his garage at home, working only on his and his buddies’ bikes. He went back to a revolving door of day jobs as a miner, doing underground construction and as a drill doctor, fixing pretty much anything mechanical. Without a family to feed and the skill to get a job just about anywhere, he would quit and change jobs every time his bosses got too stupid for his liking. After hiring on again at Xstrata just before they did another round of layoffs, he decided it was time to change careers again and find something where he could be his own boss.
In 2010 he bought a burned-out house in Minnow Lake and a copy of the building code so he could study how to do every aspect of restoration. It was there that he fell while working alone and suffered a fractured skull. That left him with a permanent brain injury and a few horrible years while he recovered as much as he could and learned how to cope with what he could. It took him a lot longer to complete the jobs, but he didn’t allow it to let him to compromise on the quality of his work. His courage to push through adversity was an inspiration to us all.
He knew he still had the skills and wanted to pay his own way, so he continued to fix up several houses to buy and rent. He couldn’t party as hard, but he kept in touch with all his friends and made new ones. And in the last few years he revved up his passions. He started riding more and dove into restoring the 40 motorcycles he has collected, most of which are more than 50 years old. And he even got back in the saddle at the Elliot Lake drags last year. He did that in style, clocking the best reaction time of the day at an amazing .003 seconds.
Bob saved all the scrap metal and wiring from his work, and when he sold it, he dropped off the cash at the Samaritan Centre. He would often suggest buying an extra can of coffee and dropping off there, so you might want to consider that, or sending them a donation so they can buy a few cases.
As we all think about him, say our goodbyes, and maybe raise a glass, he would want you to do what he always told the staff as he left his brother’s or his lawyer’s or insurance broker’s office, or the grocery store or the bank or the license bureau – “Take the rest of the day off!”
Donations to the Samaritan Centre would be greatly appreciated.
Arrangements entrusted to the Lougheed Funeral Home.