This little guy who passed away last Saturday (12/15/07, ironically the birthday of my friend, the deceased Dr. Holly Kabakovich) was one of the finest human beings I knew.
What made Bob so special was that he never acted special. He just made everyone feel like they were special. Especially those not considered special by most people.
I knew "Lion Bob" as a volunteer at the homeless shelter I ran for years in Aurora. He'd show up with his church, St. Timothy Lutheran, and proceed to instill a glow of hospitality everywhere he went. He could talk to anyone--and did--as he distributed toiletries or handled the seemingly endless sign-in list.
Bob, with his 2 prosthetic legs, coke-bottle thick glasses, and short less-than-svelte body had more charisma than anyone I knew. He backed it up with lots of hard work and plenty of smarts. I don't know how many committees he WORKED on, or how many languages he spoke, but Bob was about making a difference with his life, despite the hand he was dealt, including the worst that diabetes can throw at a person.
I worked alongside Bob at the Naperville Noon Lions' funnel cake booth at the Naperville Rib Fest, a huge (gazillion people come to this!) event where the Lions sell enough funnel cakes to retire the U.S. debt. Bob stood and tirelessly handled the cashbox all day long, combining correct change and a great big thank-you to hundreds of customers. I never saw him sit, nor did I hear anything but enthusiastic comments from him.
Bob's obituary fails to do justice to this giant. He towers like a redwood over the rest of us mere mortals. His wife--the love of his life, Peggy Martin, knows that.
Seems to me that filling Bob's shoes will be an impossible task. He'll be a powerful reminder to the rest of us that we have lots to do and excuses don't cut it. Farewell, Lion Bob, my friend....