In Memory

Robert A Russell

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09/10/12 06:23 PM #1    

Michael Francis

Rob had a heart attack on July 22.  His wife Allison was out walking their dog, and had to return early because the dog was misbehaving.  On returning she found Rob on the floor; she and her sister resuscitated him and he was rushed to hospital and a by-pass performed.  He contracted septacaemia as a result of the operation, and never recovered from the coma he was in.  He slipped away  on Friday 5th October.

Sincere condolences to Allison, their children, family and friends.  Rob was intending to join the reunion, so this loss is all the more sad.  RIP

01/11/12 05:52 PM #2    

Malcolm Goldhill

To Robert; My Final Farewell

Rob and I have been friends since we were 13 years old. Rob made friends easily, a gift which he used wisely.

As a young man, Rob was fiercely competitive, wanting to do his own thing. He set specific goals and planned them well. His first goal, of course, was to marry Alison. He then set his mind to build their first house in Gallo Manor and achieved this soon after working for Genop repairing cameras. This was despite having had to borrow a shirt for the interview from Mark Hansen (he’s here today from East London) and proudly earning a salary of R275 a month. He worked hard and was willing to do the best he could in whatever challenge he faced.

I enjoyed Robert’s somewhat “off-key” sense of humour. I remember Kim & I coming up to Joberg a day or so before we were all due to go on a yachting holiday. Alison had got hold of a suggested packing list and was busy encouraging Rob to pack accordingly. Every time she called out an item from the checklist, Rob would put his whole head into the suitcase calling for the item at the top of his voice. Of course no items were ever really checked, but it was hilarious and the more we laughed the more animated he became. His humour was witty and incredibly sharp; you had to come back with a quick snap if you wanted to avoid the occasional sting.

As you may well know, Rob had a keen interest in photography and the tapestry of his life was focused on cameras, photography and the movie industry in particular. What you may not know however, is that in our early years at Selborne College in East London, Rob was called out of the class by the principal. We were all abuzz with curiosity. He returned and proudly announced that he had just won a photography competition, and the prize was a fantastic overseas trip. That seemed to set the tone for him to weave a common thread of photography and film throughout his life; finally combining his own company, Panacam with Panavision; where he remained until he went into hospital on Sun 22 July 2012.    

Rob loved doing woodwork; and he became proficient at this hobby. In fact he underpinned his techniques by leaving an indelible mark at their home both here and in Cape Town by producing a number of items of hand-crafted furniture.

Robert was an adventurist and enjoyed going on exciting holidays with family and friends... he told me so! The first such holiday we shared together, with both our families, was a trip to Disney World in 1996. He was at his happiest while watching his children Julie & Warren in pure delight; saying this gave him untold pleasure. Since then, Rob never tired of planning the next trip.

Rob’s spirit of adventure developed a passion for the thrill of sailing. Initially, a boating trip on the canals of the Norfolk Broads created our mutual desire for a little more speed & thrill on the open seas. We were all privileged to have put together a number of yachting holidays in Greece, Turkey and Croatia. These were special times with Rob & Alison that Kim and I will treasure forever. In fact Rob has made quite sure that we’ll never forget them; he’s made a DVD of every holiday... neatly packaged; labelled and stacked in specific order in the lounge. They’re there right now!

Robert was a man who kept his promise; except for one, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  Rob loved to entertain at home... he was a showman and a good cook. We enjoyed many gourmet meals together. They were great times of much laughter and friendship. He would play his own selection of music from the 60’s and 70’s and force us all to guess the name of the band. Although we sometimes moaned about that; I so wish we could do it again. Bob’s Burgers was another favourite of his. Around the table, Rob taught us a great truth; he said that dessert is important. However, on those occasions he usually promised to round off the evening with his favourite desert “Top-Hat”, but in fact I don’t know anyone who was ever served Top-Hat. Maybe Alison knows! 

To Alison, Julie and Warren. We share your grief but we also share the fact that if matters go sadly now, they will not always be so. I believe that if Rob was standing here today, he would want to reassure all of us that in fact, all is well.

Rob, thanks for the privilege of being your friend; I now say Farewell & Godspeed. Malcolm

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