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Jan Advocate 2017

110 V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 THE ADVOCATE Robert Duncan Ross, Q.C. Some of us have remarkable careers. Some become legends. Fewer still attain the stature of lore within the profession. Bob Ross was one of the latter. He was much more than a remarkable lawyer. His professional status barely defined him. He was a maverick, a character, a philanthropist and a supporter of lost causes. His practice and his life were focused on helping the disabled. He was stubborn, tenacious and fiercely independent with a spirit of irreverence and adventure. Bob passed away on August 7, 2016 at the age of 90 leaving his wife Sheila, their four children (Cathie, Robbie, Nancy and Gordie) and a multitude of grandchildren to carry on the family’s legacies. Bob graduated from the second UBC law class in 1949. When asked what he remembered from his prior undergrad years at UBC he said he only recalled playing rugby and the military drills that all young men of his age had to participate in during the World War II years. At his memorial service his daughter read a memorandum of an adventure he took during his articling years in 1950. One can still imagine the twinkle in his eyes when he left his articles unfinished and hitchhiked with a friend to Florida to find a berth on a sailing vessel that would take them on an adventure around the Caribbean for half a year. The sailing curse never left him. Bob was well known in the decades that followed for his competitive sailing at Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and eventually for his very pink wooden sloop, the Penelakut. He participated in ocean racing like Cape Town to Rio and many years of the Swiftsure race in Victoria. After his Caribbean adventure he returned to Vancouver to marry the young Sheila Graham, and they began their grand adventure in life together. Bob told me he never liked conformity and he did not want to be cooped up in a partnership with others because he felt confined and bored. So he struck out on his own. He was an early pioneer in plaintiffs’ personal injury law. He was well known for his trial work, particularly for disabled and spinal cord injury clients. He took on some very challenging and seemingly hopeless cases, often with success. To my knowledge all of Bob’s cases were self-funded—i.e., he bore all the disbursements for the lost cases for his clients. He had significant successes with swimming pool diving cases, which had a direct impact on designs for home swimming pools.


Jan Advocate 2017
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