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On January 15, 2012, Robert (Bob) Albert Farebrother, aged 88 passed away at Grace Hospital.
Bob was predeceased by Ethel, his beloved wife of 65 years, and leaves to cherish his memory, his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and countless friends.
Bob spent his working life at Kimberly Clark, first in his hometown of Niagara Falls where he met his wife Ethel and then in Winnipeg. His free time was spent with family and friends, both at home and for many summers at Falcon Lake. He was a founding and faithful member of St. Bede’s Anglican Church, serving as a sides man, vestry member and spent many years making sure the Easter garden got put up and taken down. He was loved and respected for his loyalty, honesty, genuine warm nature and devotion to his wife Ethel.
The family extends grateful thanks to the many Homecare workers, staff members of Oakview Personal Care Home and Grace hospital for their thoughtful care of Bob during his last years.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
A memorial service will be held at the Church of St. Stephen and St. Bede on Feb 3, 2012 at 11:00 am, 99 Turner Avenue (at Mount Royal Road). Family gratefully declines flowers. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s memory can be made to a charity of your choice or to the Church of St. Stephen and St. Bede.
Eulogy for my Dad, read at his memorial service by my long time friend Debbie Solvason.
Good morning. For any of you who do not know me, my name is Debbie. I am a long time close friend of Bob’s daughter Lori. With the help of Bob’s family members and close friends, Lori has written some thoughts and treasured memories of Bob to share with you as we celebrate his life today. It is my privilege to share those thoughts and memories with you.
Some of Lori’s favorite memories of her father revolve around the large repertoire of clichés Bob had for so many everyday occurrences. Lori does not ever remember ice cream being taken out of the freezer with her father loudly proclaiming, “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream” Somehow, leaving lights on or the door open was equated with barn animals and would result in raised eyebrows and the question “Hey were you born in a barn?” Putting on a new outfit always elicited the comment “You’re all dressed up with nowhere to go.” In her youth, if Lori asked for a few dollars to go out with friends or to buy some wanted item, she often got a sum less than asked for with a smile and the one that goes “well beggars can’t be choosers, take it or leave it.” If she asked for advice on a serious issue or situation she would get the comment, “Aren’t you between a rock and a hard place” or “it looks like you are up the creek without a paddle.” There are very few days in her life, that Lori does not have a situation come up where one of her Dad’s clichés does not come instantly to mind and bring a smile to her face. The other thing that Lori will never forget about her father was that he always there for her, no matter what the situation. One example she remembers from her youth. Her Dad had instilled in her as a teenager to never go out with having a dime for a phone call in her wallet for emergencies. Some time after moving out on her own, Lori found herself in an uncomfortable situation she didn’t know how to get out of. Taking out her secreted dime, she phoned her father. He told her to hang tight, he would be there in a few minutes. Not a complaint about it being two in the morning and having to drive all the way down town to pick her up. He just came. Lori could always count upon her Dad. He was her hero.
Bob’s grandson Corwin fondly remembers playing cards with his Poppa around the dinner table both at the house in Winnipeg and at the cottage at Falcon Lake. Corwin spent every summer until he was fourteen at the Falcon Lake cottage with his grandparents. His grandfather loved to play cards and carefully taught him how to play rummy and pairs. He can’t help but smile when he recalls how Poppa pretended not to notice, that while they were talking or he was refilling their drinks, that Gramma was sneaking a peak at the cards in the pile. Corwin moved to B.C. when he was fourteen and his visits with his grandparents have been farther and fewer between since that time. But his grandfather holds a special place in his heart as the person who taught him about family love, values and compassion. Now that his own daughter is approaching her teenage years, he hopes he can be half as understanding, compassionate and empathic as he remembers his beloved “Poppa” being.
One of the things that Bob’s son Barry remembers most about his Dad was his attachment to the cars he owned over the years. How every car that he owned, was the best car ever made, until he bought the next one. Thinking way back, he remembers a 1947 Hudson and the 1953 Meteor that his Dad had when they moved from Niagara Falls to Winnipeg in 1955. And after that there was a two tone pink 1957 Monarch. Up to that point Barry was young enough to agree with his father. But then his Dad moved into what he calls “a bad period of Chrysler products.” From that point on, he had fun bantering with and telling his father how wrong he was with his vehicle choices. It was a game that they kept up, right to Bob’s last car, his 1992 Accord. Bob was always trying to convince everyone that his Honda Accord was the best car on the road, even with 230,000 kilometers of wear on it. When Barry was a teenager it was not uncommon for him to own several cars at once, often buying, fixing up and reselling them. He remembers Dad took great interest in telling him how wrong he was to buy each one of them. However, as soon as one of Dad’s co-workers had a vehicle to sell that he could buy, fix and make a small profit on, his Dad would help set it up. These car wars, continued over the next 40 years, his Dad always trying to convince Barry how much better his current car was than any before, and how it was the best on the road. The only time Barry remembers his Dad conceded where cars were concerned, was only a couple of years ago when he took him for a ride in his wife Donna’s Corvette. He beamed like a teenager, and commented that he had to wait until he was well into his 80’s to get a ride in a CORVETTE! Barry just wishes they had done it sooner so that his Dad could have driven the Vet himself. Barry still thinks his Dad could have done a lot better than the Chryslers, but a couple of the earlier cars his Dad owned he would love to have today. He will fondly remember always, how fun it was to have the conversations and fun disagreements. And he will also never forget, that even though he smashed two of his Dads cars up in the same month, and as mad as Bob tried to make out he was, he never refused to lend Barry one of his own cars to drive, even if his own sat in the driveway.
Bob’s granddaughter Rhonda will always cherish the time the time spent with him and Grandma at Falcon Lake, swimming, boating, playing cards, and teasing him about how he could not stand to see food go to waste. She will never forget that her Grampa always finished whatever was on his plate and expected everyone else to do the same. He couldn’t stand for food to be wasted. It always made Rhonda smile when he would say “How’s my favourite granddaughter?” and then he would laugh, fully aware of that what qualifed her as “his favourite” was that she was his “ONLY” granddaughter. It is not lost on any of the family, that Rhonda’s father Barry, has carried that saying on with her daughter Kelsey, his only granddaughter. Rhonda has never met anyone else who was so completely devoted to the people he loved, which was most evident in his care of her grandma in the last few years of her life. She does not think there was anything he would not have done for any one of his family if they asked. Rhonda NEVER remembers seeing him mad, even though she knows that she must have frustrated him many times over as a teenager. She remembers one time in particular when he and grandma were taking care of her and her brother while her parents were away. She was out riding her bike longer than she was expected to be. When he found her he was visibly worried, and he sternly, but not angrily told Rhonda it was time to come home, then hugged her and told her she needed to let him know where she was going to be, because he had been so worried about her. Rhonda says, he was the kind of person I strive to be and I will miss him terribly.
Bob’s grandson Currie has the same wonderful memories of his Grandfather as his sister Rhonda. He also remembers being very touched when his grandfather and grandmother made the effort to travel with his parents to Regina for his graduation from depot as he became an RCMP officer. He knew traveling with Gramma at that point in her life was very difficult, but Grampa did it anyway. His grandfather had also brought him a special gift, a ring of his own that he had engraved with his graduation date. There after the Free Press announcement of Currie’s graduation complete with a picture of him in his red serge always hung on the side of the fridge at Bob’s house where he could proudly show it to anyone who visited.
Bob’s son in-law Jeff, remembers his love of food. Bob’s wife Ethel was an amazing cook, but in her declining years could no longer do the cooking. Bob was left to make most of their meals from prepackaged things like chicken fingers and meat pies. Whenever Jeff was visiting and staying with his wife’s parents, he took over as cook. Whatever meal he made, from Ethel’s round steak recipe to bacon and eggs, to barbecued beer butt chicken, was gleefully enjoyed. “Jeff,” he would say, after eating whatever he had been served, “that is one of the best meals I have ever had.” Jeff felt privileged to have been totally embraced by Bob as a member of his family, always being treated as if he was Bob’s own son, not just a new comer to have married into the Farebrother clan.
Bob’s neighbors and close friends for over thirty years, Glenn and Arlene have countless treasured memories of him. Like Jeff, they remember fondly Bob’s love of a good meal. During the time when Bob was struggling to do the cooking, at least once a week, they would cook a big meal, pack into a large basket and haul it across the street to share with their neighbors. Bob was always appreciative and they would get the same “that was one of the best meals I have ever had” that Jeff received. Glenn spent countless enjoyable hours over the years playing cribbage with Bob. Right up to his last bought with pneumonia, Glenn would play cribbage with Bob in his room at Oakview and could still only beat him about half the time, he was as sharp as ever. When Bob was still in his house, but declining health made it difficult to maintain his yard, Glenn tried to keep it the way he knew Bob liked it. When his wife Ethel had been healthy, she loved her flowers, especially the planters of red geraniums at the front steps. Even after Ethel was gone, Bob insisted there could be no other flowers there but her beloved red geraniums. Over the long years of their friendship Glenn and Arlene have shared many fun times with Bob and his wife that were filled with laughter, playing cards and crokinole, impromptu afternoon get togethers sitting on the front steps gabbing, and gathering together for quietly ringing in the new year. They liked to call Bob the “Candy Man”, as he always had on hand a few different kinds of sweets and never wanted anyone to leave his home without taking a treat or two. Glenn says his friendship with Bob was as good as it gets and he considered Bob to be not only a wonderful friend but like a second father. Arlene will never forget Bob’s parting words to her every time she was leaving, “I love you kid.” The last time she saw Bob in the hospital, he managed to mouth those words to her, despite an oxygen mask and a lot of drugs, “I love you kid.”
Bob was what his daughter has coined “an extraordinary, ordinary person.” He led what most would call an ordinary life. He had an ordinary job as a foreman in a factory, lived in an ordinary home in a small city suburb, he drove ordinary cars. He spent his leisure time at a small, ordinary cottage at the lake, enjoying ordinary activities, swimming, canoeing and playing cards and board games with family and friends. Bob was however, extraordinary to those who knew and loved him. He was extraordinary in his unfailing devotion to his wife Ethel, never saying a harsh word about her, even during the difficult journey through the dementia of her declining years. He was extraordinary in his love of all his family, kids, grandkids, great grandkids and all the people they brought into his sphere. He was extraordinary in his loyalty as a friend, his helpfulness as a neighbor and his devotion to his church. Bob leaves behind this legacy of extraordinariness in his own ordinary but loving and gentle way.
You lived a life full of love, laughter and play
We take comfort we will be reunited one day
We’ll remember you with smiles not tears
For the joy you gave us through all your years
Now you are resting from all your pain
You are with you beloved Ethel again
May God hold you both in the hollow of his hand
Your souls at peace in his sweet command