MY GREAT MATE BOB
I first met Bob and Wendy Pritchard while I was studying at the University of Calgary in Canada. Fay was supporting me. We used to go out with them, fish with them, live with them, ski with them, skate with them and eat with them. Bob and I both played cricket for the University team, along with blokes from England, India, Jamaica, Africa... a real cosmopolitan lot we were. Occasionally Fay and I babysat Bob and Wen's kids, Geoff and Jim. They later had 2 more, Simon and Emily, but we feel we had some input into the raising of the two older kids. They even let us "borrow" Jimmy one Mothers Day to get into the drive in theatre a little more cheaply!
Bob was one of those fellas who made people feel comfortable at a party. He had great people skills and would always ask questions of others rather than talk about himself. He was comfortable and confident with all sorts of people both men and women. Indeed he was a great admirer of my wife Fay and they got along extremely well.
Bob was a great leader as well as a very capable sportsman. He often passed books on to me, much faster than I was able to read them. "Here Grahame, you've gotta read this," he would say encouragingly. Indeed he had a very wide range of knowledge.
I liked the way he played cricket. Maybe he and I were batting. We'd just lost 3 or 4 wickets and there were still plenty of runs to get. He would say, "Well, we're not going to get these runs by mucking around out here are we?" This would be followed by an onslaught of big hitting from Bob in an attempt to reach the target as quickly as possible.
Bob had the supreme ability to enlist others to do things; Gee Wendy'd love to help you with that... Geoffrey'd give his eye teeth to join you there Grahame, why don't you give him a ring. Why don't you get Fay to... etc.
He always had tremendous confidence in others and was a great encouragement to me personally.
Bob and Wen loved entertaining and organising and arranging gatherings of all sorts. When we were living with them in Calgary for six weeks he organised for me to apply for a school principal's job in the Yukon Territory which I subsequently got. Luckily the experience turned out to be a positive one for Fay and I.
How could I ever forget Bob showing off in Calgary on his skates. He zoomed straight for me... but just at the last minute, went head over turkey and landed at my feet. Yes, it's all on film!
It was a surprising thrill in 1993 when Bob and Wendy turned up in Cooma (where we lived) as part of a bunch of people to help me celebrate my 50th birthday. Fancy coming all the way from Perth (where they have lived since returning from Canada) to Cooma just for that!
When I think of the song True Blue by John Williamson, I think of my mate Bob.
It was great to spend time with Bob and Wen last September as part of our big trip round SA, NT and WA. We enjoyed time in Perth and also down south in their lovely holiday pad in Denmark, a lovely spot in southern Western Australia.
Bob passed away earlier this week. Life won't be the same without him, but then he'll always be with us won't he?