The obit read “Bob, the husband and best friend of Wendy, died at home on Oct. 23rd in his 80th year. They had celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary on Dec. 23rd with eggnog and Good King Wenceslas . . . ”
When his heart stopped at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, and the fear of having to return to hospital to amputate his diabetes-stricken legs ended, Wendy’s love did not skip a beat. She called her son and daughter’s families to come and they asked her to “make it like Christmas or a birthday for the kids.”
So the beautiful, red-haired grandchildren slept beside her that night on the livingroom floor while she stayed awake by the coffin and they were not frightened. Wendy saw Bob’s face was still radiant; she put a copy of the book he had edited in his hands and Russell, the eldest, gave “Grumps” a chocolate bar.
On the third day, friends and family came to murmur and munch and mourn, while the closed coffin peeked from behind delicate, exuberant orchids and lilies. Next morning the gloomy sky provided the tears as the Saint James the Less funeral chapel filled up with people.
The eulogists painted a heartfelt portrait of a brilliant, shy, complex, compassionate man. After listening, the minister said First Corinthians 13 came to mind. A ripple of laughter rustled the pews when Bob’s daughter Shelley quoted an article in CA Magazine that said, “What Bob can do to a shirt and tie over lunch is legendary.” They had had to send one to the cleaners to dress the corpse. The minister said that was a waste, since Jesus had gone ahead to prepare a banquet.
Not a spook was in sight in the graveyard as we left Bob’s body in the chapel and went to Wendy’s home for lunch.
From the Toronto Globe and Mail
Robert Douglas Brown
Born August 3, 1934 in Stratford, Ontario
Died October 23, 2013 in Toronto
Bob, Wendy’s husband and best friend, passed away at home on October 23, 2013, in his 80th year. Together since 1961, Bob and Wendy celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary last December over eggnog and Good King Wenceslas. We all loved Bob. For his tremendous intellect, insatiable curiosity and that mischievous sense of humour. His son Rob and wife Sookie (nee Allen); daughter Michelle (never called Shelley) and husband Chris Farano will all miss Bob’s loving guidance. Who will we go to now that we can’t, ‘go ask Dad’? He was dubbed ”Grumps” by his grandchildren Russell, Theo (aka Charlie), Tilly, Sarah and Ellie. They knew and loved his booming voice and conspiratorial grin. To them, he was the Stony Lake Shark. Growing up in Stratford, Bob and his sister Bev (who died in 1999, leaving her husband Clark Shaw of Lake Hughes, Quebec) shared a love of reading – although they both began all books on the last page. Why read a book if you don’t like how it ends? Indeed. ”Bob’s your uncle” isn’t something that applies to just anyone, but it was true for Karen, Kevin, Kyle and Kelly Shaw and Mary-Elizabeth Protter (nee Day). Bob taught himself to read before he went to kindergarten and graduated from Parkdale Collegiate at the top of his class. Scholarships took him to the University of Toronto for his B. Comm and the University of Chicago for his Masters in Economics. Bob joined PriceWaterhouse in 1957, when he couldn’t tell one accounting firm from another. He earned his CA designation in 1960, became the firm’s youngest partner at the time in 1966, and went on to become Chairman of the Canadian firm and Member of the World Board in 1990. Bob claimed that he retired in 1996, but we were never quite sure what he meant by retirement. He became Chair of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants in 1996, then became Chair of the CD Howe Institute in 1997, and had to cut that short when he started commuting to Ottawa as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist to the Department of Finance from 1998 to 2001. Throughout his adult life, Bob tirelessly and passionately committed his time and energy to the shaping of tax and government spending policy in Canada, serving as Chair of the Canadian Tax Foundation and on various Parliamentary Committees, and writing and speaking prolifically. Bob enthusiastically served on many corporate and charitable boards and with many industry associations. Bob and Wendy met over a bridge game on a blind date in 1961 at Marg and Tom Virany’s; they played their last game together with dear friends Don Stevenson and Carol Galimberti on Sunday. Bob and Don, partners that day as so many times before, won hands down. Bob is resting at home; friends and family are invited to visit Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at 164 St. Leonards Ave. The funeral service will be on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at St. James-the-Less Chapel (635 Parliament St., just south of Bloor). Donations to the Stony Lake Heritage Foundation or the Royal Ontario Museum would be gratefully appreciated by the whole family.
Margaret Kell Virany is the author of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride. http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany