Obituary of Robert Farquharson
Bob passed away April 10, 2021, his wife Anne at his side and surrounded by family, in spirit if not in person. Bob lived a full life and was engaged and eager to explore its possibilities right to the end of his 98 years.
Bob was born in Gleichen, Alberta and grew up in Delia. He joined the war effort in 1941 and flew for the 435 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force in Burma, transporting supplies to the troops behind enemy lines. Following an officially arranged visit to commemorate the effort 50 years later, Bob realized that there was a story to be told about this largely forgotten piece of the conflict. He threw himself into the telling: writing a book, For your tomorrow: Canadians and the Burma Campaign, 1941-45 (2004), and seeking out every opportunity to share his research and his memories with military associations, historical societies and young people.
After the war, Bob returned to Canada and began Undergraduate studies at the University of British Columbia, followed by a PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, where he met his future wife, Anne Rhoades. In 1960 they moved to Toronto, where Bob had been hired as a professor of German literature at Victoria College, University of Toronto. Bob taught and contributed to the life of the university for 28 years. He served as Chair of the combined university departments of German; started Seminar, a scholarly journal on German literature; and served six years as Associate Dean and Vice Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science. He passed on his love of learning to his students, was respected as an administrator and made lifelong friends among colleagues.
Bob and Anne loved their farm in Mansfield, Ontario for the connection it offered to his rural roots and as an outlet for Bob’s eagerness for projects, from raising cattle and fixing fences, to building a new, energy-efficient farmhouse, to rigging up a cable ride for his grandchildren.
You rarely find a picture of Bob alone. He got a thrill from every connection and was active in every community he was part of: work, church, family, friends. Even in his latest years, he enjoyed a packed schedule of social and lecturing commitments. His friends and family delighted in hearing about his latest piece of historical research, but Bob also kept a careful eye on current events and could match wits with the best. He saw possibility everywhere and opportunities for a little fun in everything.
Bob was an exemplary husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and colleague. He leaves behind his wife, Anne; his children, Rob (Betty), Elizabeth (Peter) and Laura (Blair); grandchildren, Nathan, Daniel (Dominique), Christine, Ben, Emily, Clara and Ry; great-grandchild Theo; and all their families, as well as the children of his beloved late sister, Grace, and late brother George. We will miss him dearly but his positive outlook, the twinkle of mischief in his eye, his curiosity and his determination to make things right or better in any way he could, will remain with us and guide us forever.
Bob was greatly assisted in a peaceful passing by the staff at Christie Gardens and Toronto General Hospital. Donations to the Bloor Street United Church, Christie Gardens Foundation or the organization of your choice will be warmly welcomed. A virtual memorial service will be held on April 24th. Details can be found at www.humphreymiles.com, where condolences may also be left.
© 2021 Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel Limited. All Rights Reserved.
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