Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Measure of a Man

Robert Gordon Cummings

February 15, 1947 - May 15, 2009

They say you can tell the measure of a man by how many friends he has. My friend Bob Cummings was a very big fellow.

I met Bob in 1992 at Lakeside Resort in Cluculz Lake. He was waiting for Leah to get off work, and my husband and I were there for dinner; we'd been camping out while we built our house.

At first I saw what I perceived as a stern-looking man, until he spoke to his wife. I immediately recognized the voice of a gentle soul. And as I got to know him, I realized he was a man of quiet introspection. Bob loved his family more than life, he was never one to step into your space, and he was genuinely interested in you as a person.

We became fast friends. He was my mentor, my computer guru and my computer tech. Right up until I purchased my Imac, Bob was only a phone call away when my PC broke down. Didn't matter when I called either, he'd hear the panic in my voice, reassure me that my problems weren't serious, and he'd have my computer up and running in no time. He performed miracles.

When my mum died, he not only attended her memorial service, but he stood up and shared. He said every single time he came over to fix my computer, she was always gracious and had a plate of cookies warm out of the oven for him. She made sure of that because she saw him for the kind man he was. Generous, kind and genuine.

I hadn't seen much of Bob in the last few years; he'd been away working. But when I published my first novel last year, he called to congratulate me. He said it came as no surprise to him because he knew I was a good writer and that I would be successful.

In the 90s, I'd talked him into getting involved with the community association after years of absence. It wasn't always an easy job for him. He volunteer for everything. He drove several of us into Prince George whenever we had our benefits at the casino. I used to talk his ear. If I asked a dozen questions, I probably asked him a hundred. I never told him I modeled FBI Special Agent Sal Vamozzi in Dead Witness after him. I didn't want to embarrass him.

One winter night, when a bunch of us were coming back from the casino at midnight in Bob's stationwagon, we came very very close to hitting a moose. In fact, the car whizzed under the animal's chin. Everyone was shocked into silence. Then Bob said "Hmm, I hope him appreciates that clean shave."

Occasionally, Bob would remind me that it was my fault he was back serving the community. One evening while he was waiting for Leah, I convinced him he should run as President of the Community Association. When things were anything but smooth, he'd smile at me and remind me again that it was my fault.

But the truth was, Bob was born to serve. He would look around and see where he could best be useful, and that's where you'd find him. When we needed a President, he was available. When we needed a Fire Chief, he volunteered. When we were in desperate need of a Fire Marshall, he was there.

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Bob was the kind of person that you took for granted would always be there, helping. He was looking forward to retirement and spending more time with Leah. His eyes would light up when he talked about their plans; Leah meant everything to him, and he was anxious for her to relax and have fun. So often, Bob would say "Leah works too hard. The kids are grown, now it's her turn."

I don't presume to understand, but I guess God had other plans for Bob.


  1. I'm so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. A special friend of my own once sent me that saying about people coming into your life "for a reason, a season or a lifetime" and I firmly believe it. Your days will be poorer for Bob's untimely departure but your life is richer because of the time you had with him.

  2. Very well written Joylene. I didn't know him personally but understood him to be the kind of man you have described.

    My condolences to his family. May they breathe deeply and remember he will always be with them - close to their hearts.

  3. Thank you, Careann. You are so right.

  4. Thank you, Anonymous. Stopping by to pay respect to someone you didn't know, also says a lot about you.

  5. Joylene what you have written is so true Bob was their for everyone. Everyone one was his friend no matter what. Thank you for what you have written it means alot.

  6. Joylene, this is a wonderful tribute to your friend, it gives us hope for humanity.

  7. How honoered your friend would be by your touching words. Friends like him are priceless. Thanks for sharing this wonderful man with us.

  8. We were both saddened to hear of Bob's passing and reach out to his family. Bob and Leah's children rode on the school bus with Jennifer and Glenn through their school years and I served as recording sec. for a few seasons while Bob was President of the Community association. He will not be forgotten.

    Roger & Karen Wheeler

  9. This is a beautiful tribute to your friend Bob and Leah as well. I'm sure all who knew him will miss him. He's dancing with the angels now.

  10. Thank you, Marty, Carol, Karen and Katt. Stopping by to read my tribute to Bob means alot.

  11. Nice tribute about Bob. (he's probably editing it about now, huh?)lol ....been a lot of years gone by since then!!!!



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