Bob died unexpectedly, but peacefully, at home on Wednesday March 3. He died just as he sat down to do his morning crossword, seventeen days before his 80th spring would begin.
Despite our profound feeling of loss, we are so thankful for his life, and proud of his legacies. More than six decades have passed since Bob, at just sixteen, first preached at Athelstan, Que, and enrolled at McGill University. Across those years, Bob has ministered at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Biggar, Chalmers Presbyterian in Hamilton, Alberton Presbyterian in Alberton, and in countless remote rural churches. After graduating McGill, he completed his education at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and while studying there in 1961, he met his wife Jan, whom he has faithfully treasured and adventured alongside ever since. Bob and Jan raised three daughters, Susan Horikiri (Ren), Anna-Marie Bernhardt, and Elizabeth Bernhardt. He loved his girls endlessly, and as much so his four grandchildren Brett, Kyra, Erin, and Anna.
Bob worked every day until his last, with immense devotion not just to his parishioners, but to the whole community, and to the world at large. He was a man of talent and intellect, and he used his gifts in service of others. He was involved in causes like Telecare, Dawn Patrol (Bernhardt House), and The Reid Trust. He researched, wrote, and created; he learned technology and herded ages-old organizations into the electronic era. He worked in radio broadcasting, local television, and as a columnist. His accomplishments are too many to list, and he was a humble man who would not want us to try. Bob lived generously, saw generously, and spoke of others generously. He was a friend, teacher, and mentor. He was the call you could make in the night. Bob always showed up.Though he was always working on something, he was not always working. Bob loved Jazz and Dixie music, reading, and discussing. He had a sparkling sense of humour, and enjoyed simple things like coffee, wine, crosswords, and the beach where he rescued his (over) indulged cat, Sandy. Bob adored Sandy, who is searching the air for his presence, as are we.
Until we meet him again in our own hour, we have comfort from so many fun and happy memories of him, and guidance from his example of how to toil with compassion and humility in this broken world. Due to current restrictions, a celebration of life will take place in the future, when things are better. Things always do get better. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to causes or charities that are on your own heart, or to our local helping organizations such as the 541 Exchange, Keeping Six, Men’s Street Ministry, or to the Alberton Ceiling Fund, 528 Alberton Rd, Alberton L0R 1A0.
The family requests that Friends and Presbyters respect their privacy for the next few days.