November 13, 1948 – December 20, 2023
at the age of 75 years:
Robert Martens, affectionately known as Bob, passed away on December 20, 2023, at the age of 75 after a short but difficult battle with what was probably cancer. Despite moments of profound sadness and at times being “madder than a wet hen” (as he so eloquently put it), in the end he went peacefully and at a time more or less of his choosing.
Born on November 13, 1948 at New Westminster, British Columbia to Jack and Jean (nee Holland) Martens, Bob was a man of many words and a graduate of the School of Life. He tried out any number of employers, most of whom did not meet his standards. He became a certified tree arborist, loved to work with wood using his carpentry skills. In 1975 he took one eventful voyage as a deckhand from Halifax to Vancouver via the Panama Canal, for which he was paid the princely sum of $800 and after which he became a confirmed landlubber. He does not recall how he spent the money.
Bob was happiest outside, especially around trees. In winter he worked in mills, enjoying the smell of fresh cut red cedar, and in summer he wielded a chainsaw for anyone who would pay him to clamber up a white pine and trim the branches away from the power lines. He could name every tree and shrub in the Lower Mainland and the birds that lived in them.
Married once, that we know of, Bob had no children of his own but was like a magnet for the kids at any gathering thanks to his gift of the gab and sense of adventure. He was the long-haired Cool Uncle with the radio voice who bore a striking resemblance to Dr. Johnny Fever. A ride around the block in Bob’s MG was a highlight of every family visit. Bobs favorite sport to watch was football , he was a keen lover of the English language, he loved to do crosswords and would often shoot a new word at a friend only to have the friend give him a puzzled look, he would then explain the meaning of the word with a slight smile on his face. In the mid-90s Bob moved to the BC Interior to be surrounded by even more trees, birds and good friends. He built a new life using only his wits, skills and charm. Among friends and neighbours, Bob was known for his ingenuity and generous spirit. After knowing him barely a day chances were he would be building you a new set of stairs for your back deck, all the better to have a few beers and shoot the breeze.
Bob loved his family, he is survived by his brother Bill (whom he shot the breeze with at great length on many topics), sister-in-law Gail, niece Melanie (Drew), nephew Mike (Tammy), and great-niece Sarah, as well as the many friends he collected over the years, Bill and Gail, as well as friends Roger, Wayne, Peter and Kevin eased his final days. A special thank you to the doctors, nurses and home care workers of BC Interior Health, who cared for Bob with grace and kindness.
In lieu of flowers you can honour Bob by planting a tree, feeding some birds, telling a funny story, popping open a beer, watching some football, or all of the above. Just don’t smoke a cigarette because cancer sucks.
If you would like to make a donation in Bob’s memory, donations to SLGH Women’s Auxiliary or a charity of your choice.