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RIP Bob

My friend and comrade Bob died on Friday night. He’d been ill for a while, but when he was finally diagnosed with cancer a month ago it was incurable.

I first met Bob through the IWW, but got to know him, and his partner Sally, much better when I joined the AFed in 2007.  At AFed quarterly national meetings he was not just a regular attender, but an important participant.  In any organisation there’s unglamorous, administrative roles that require commitment and responsibility – the jobs that when its time for them to be rotated everyone kinda looks at the floor and shuffles their feet.  Well Bob was one of those who would step up to the mark.  Politics was not just a hobby to him, but something he took seriously, and I find that sort of personal responsibility inspiring.

He had an opinion on pretty much everything.  And could be stubborn as hell at expressing it!  He had the integrity and strength of character to put forward unpopular minority positions, and though I did find he would listen to and think about other’s point of views, he was not short of his own!  A particular gripe he had was with what he saw as a fetishisation of consensus decision making and though there were a few others who shared his view at one national conference it was still predominantly Bob who took on debating with most of the rest of us on one constitutional change.

The Afed has lost one of our “parents” – he would drive to fetch food and drink supplies for us all at summer camps, or run folks to the train station. He took on an uncle role for many of the younger members and stubborn and cantankerous as he could be, he was also very nurturing and sweet. To others he was a popular teacher. For one of his pupils, Rabar – a young asylum seeker from Iraq, he went beyond the call of duty by fighting, together with Sally and the rest of their family, to successfully prevent imminent deportation. This was at a large expense of time, energy and other resources to all of them, and driven by compassion as well as solidarity.

And he appreciated being cared for too – during the anarcha-feminist gathering last year, for which he did a lot of work beforehand as well as background slog during the weekend itself, a couple of us spotted him getting cranky behind a stall and snuck round, one to each side, to give him a hug. He softened and melted – the strong around us benefit from affection as much as the rest.

He was too ill to be at a national meeting a few weeks ago, but was still with us in that slightly spooky way that loved ones can be. I know that he’ll be with me at future AF events too.

Bob – I respect, love and miss you. I’m glad to have known and learned from you. I will carry something of you with me, and will always remember your integrity, responsibility and commitment to make the world a better place.

“Don’t mourn, organise”

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