Robert Wellington (Bob) Donaldson
Donate to Keats Camps here:www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/keats-camps/p2p/BobDonaldson/
Bob Donaldson passed peacefully on April 25, 2021 at Vancouver General Hospital, having lived his best, happy life.
Born November 12, 1938, Dad knew what he liked and liked what he knew. Which is why, when his mid-century “woody” station wagon packed it in and he needed a new car, he replaced it with one that was exactly the same make, model, year and colour as the old one (the guy at the registry, assessing, “I guess you’re not much of a risk-taker.”). And why replace the perfectly fine rotary dial phone that hung on the wall until 1993? Easily delighted, endlessly curious and forever in his beloved blue bathers, Dad was always happy with what still worked – and if it stopped working, he’d fix it himself.
After getting his degree in electrical engineering from UBC in 1961, Dad went to MIT on an academic scholarship to get his Masters in 1963 and a PhD two years later. Returning to Vancouver, he became a professor at UBC in 1965, working there his entire career including as head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Dad was widely published, received numerous prestigious awards and was highly regarded – he was a leader in the field of electrical engineering, with multiple patents and inventions to his name. His successful consulting business made him an early pioneer of smart payment cards, police car computer communications and speech-to-text processing. Dad retired from UBC in 2004 but stayed active in the UBC community to the end. You know he never missed a UBC basketball home game.
Passionate about team sports, Dad was a natural athlete and played everything exceedingly well: rugby, baseball, hockey, football. It was basketball, though, that really had his heart. Literally. At 75 years old, mid-court, Dad had a heart attack and medics arrived, cutting his shirt in half to administer CPR. After quintuple bypass surgery, several months later he was back shooting 3-pointers, having sewn the shirt back together because, hey, it was still a really good shirt. Dad played basketball every week for the past 30 years with the Tuesday Knights, which included some of his buddies from high school – 65-year friendships. He played his last game at age 81 before COVID shut everything down.
Dad was also an accomplished sailor. He happily spent summers on Keats Island as a kid and formed lifelong friendships there too, including with his friend-to-the-end Barrie, who he “met” when he was 2 years old! Dad continued to sail around Keats well into his 70’s.
As kids, Dad was the neighbourhood Santa, back when there was such a thing. Always up for an adventure, he regularly took us skiing and camping. As the sun shone and the gas pedal and windows were down, the emergency twenty-dollar bills tucked behind the visor would fly out the window and he’d shrug, “what’cha gonna to do?” Every. Single. Time. For such a brilliant guy he could sure be a slow learner…
…but never when math was involved. We all sat at his knee as he patiently taught us the equation of a straight line and age-appropriate word problems starring the ever-popular Ski Bunny Betsy, a tradition he continued with his grandchildren. One of his great joys in life, though, was “giving tips.” Dad was an endless source of life-hacks for how to avoid a crisis or do just about anything better. No one was ever too young to learn – like when he emailed his 3-year old grandson Lynden tips on how to improve his T-ball game.
Dad was a joyful gardener. He kept his apple tree propped up with 6×6’s when windstorms threatened to topple it and he grew an annual crop of lettuces that looked more like shrubbery than a vegetable. It was just the way Dad liked it: organic and tax-free. He was also an animal lover: his tendency to leave the doors and windows open to air the house out (year-round) meant a neighbourhood cat, “Tom,” joined the family when Dad started feeding him. Other animals adopted Dad over the years, including Gilligan and Major (dogs) and Sambuca (“Sam-Cat”), plus the raccoons that lived in the garage.
Dad had two families and 5 kids, with 20 years between the eldest and youngest. Although we didn’t grow up together, it’s a credit to him that we’re so close and love each other so well. Dad was the happiest, most fulfilled and content person you knew. Upbeat and optimistic even when it didn’t make sense to be, he was an inspiration to all of us. Dad quietly set up a scholarship and endowment fund in his brother Paul’s name at UBC. Dad’s only sibling, Paul sadly died during his final year of medical school and was awarded his MD degree posthumously. Endlessly generous, Dad helped all of us and his older grandchildren with advanced education expenses and despite his always busy and important schedule, he always had – and made – time.
Dad will be sorely missed by us, his children: Glen, Brian, Michael, Roger and Susie, his grandchildren: Allie, Marissa, Thomas, Selena, Lynden and Elton, the rest of his family and his countless friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations to a cause near and dear to Dad’s heart would be gratefully accepted. Dad was a staunch supporter of the Union Gospel Mission (UGM) in the Downtown Eastside, helping the most vulnerable in our community. Dad also loved and supported Keats Camps. Keats and UGM have a joint program under which UGM and Keats share the cost of sending under-privileged kids to Keats Camp. Your donation can be directed to this outstanding program here: www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/keats-camps/p2p/BobDonaldson/
Given COVID restrictions, Dad’s celebration of life will be a small and private affair for immediate family only. Please share your stories and memories of Dad on the memory wall and be sure to check out the photo gallery (see the links above).
A heartfelt thank you to Nurse Maria, Dr. March and the entire staff at Vancouver General for their kindness and care.
Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de Bob Donaldson Sunday April 25th 2021..
Décès pour la Ville: Vancouver, Province: Colombie britanique