My Rock of Gibralter, and closest friend over the past 38 years, Robert, died peacefully April 5, at 12:10 a.m. holding my hand.
We were first introduced on Wreck Beach. He followed the rainbow path with an eagle flight feather clasped in his hands. Long-time friends, Erin and James, kept the vigil with me on April 4th.
I cannot thank Dr. Blackmore, and others who made his life better, plus the entire Zion Park Manor staff, his regular caregivers, enough for their many kindnesses and caring that went above and beyond their duties. They loved his wit, sense of humour and wealth of knowledge which he shared humbly.
He spoke seven languages and helped put his siblings through university, as well as successfully running one of the largest nursery operations in British Columbia. He was extremely respected and involved with the UBC Botanical Gardens where he worked with them in their early planning stages. In 1958, after fellow nurseryman John Massot travelled to California, and brought back the concept of nurseries selling plants in plastic tubs, he and Robert pioneered the practice in Canada!
Robert often joked that the ornamental cherries planted on boulevards in Vancouver came from his grafts and nursery stock. He was also a member of the DPS (Desert Plant Society), and the Magnolia Society.
He was a well-respected plantsman from Richmond to Aldergrove, to Bradner where he established successful nurseries and had many international contacts in Asia and Europe. Robert’s experience/knowledge in both propagation and grafting, was unexcelled and, as well, he understood most details and hardiness levels about all the ornamental plants of the Lower Mainland.
Over the years, he was the go-to man for any questions about one’s plants. He developed a new and rare form of Hosta and no one was more educated in more topics than this humble and witty man as he was also a top chef!! Robert was pre-deceased by his father, Norman; his mother, Mae; brothers, Lorne and Don; his sister, Barbara; his sister-in-law, Connie, and nephew, Peter, and Peter’s son, Ryan.
As well, he was also pre-deceased by his business partner of many years, Roy Dann. He is survived by his wife, Judy;
We are all missing him and will continue to miss him for the remainder of our lives. Good night, Sweet Prince, as you pass into “The Land of the Forever Young” to join your little friend, Gladys, whom you escorted there the night after her passing, just as the sun set between the two mountains off the Coast of Scotland.
Robert’s celebration of life will be Sat., May 12, 11:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Newlands Golf and Country Club, 21025-48th Ave., (604)-533-3288, Langley, B.C. in the Copper Ballroom. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wreck Beach Preservation Society (28616 Haverman Rd., Bradner, B.C. V4X 2P3) or to the charity of your choice.
Arms around you all,
Judy Williams-Corbett (604-308-6336)