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Jan Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 1 J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 111 Bob had a tradition on his birthday of taking out the counselors of the BC Paraplegic Association on his sailboat. We always motored because sailing was a challenge for the guests. We would pile everyone on board, lash the wheelchairs to the dock, and take off for a potluck motor sail around English Bay. One year the motor failed while we were off Kits Beach drifting a bit too close to shore. We said nothing to alarm the guests and with little more than a wink between us put up the sails. Together we maneuvered the pink Penelakut right up to the Royal Van dock perfectly under sail, but not without a reprimand and lecture from the dock master. Bob’s size, strength and quick wit always got us out of jams in those situations. Bob was an advocate for the disabled during and after his legal career. He received his Q.C. toward the end of his law career not just for his advocacy, but also for his support of disability organizations such as the BC Paraplegic Association. He was an early backer of Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion World Tour and the Disabled Sailing Association. Bob was very proud that two of his beneficiaries became competitive para-athletes; one of them went on to compete in the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. Bob made it a practice to call his clients and friends on their birthday even years after their encounters were long past. Over the years, many, including my own son, commented on how much they enjoyed these calls. Bob brought me in as his last associate in the late 1980s toward the end of his law practice. He was one of those counsel who was known by all the court registry staff, the court reporters, many of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal justices, and all the restaurant staff in the neighbourhood of the Vancouver courthouse. We could hardly walk a few paces before someone was razzing him, often because of his fashion sense, which was more Herb Tarlek than Harry Rosen. I was always amused at the kibitzing that went on between Bob and some of the justices we appeared before, like Sam Toy, who with his wife Margaret were Bob’s great friends and neighbours. After Bob received his Q.C., he remained too penurious to actually buy his own silk gown. He had one of those very tattered old barrister’s robes held together by a few safety pins and a positive attitude. When asked by one of the justices at trial why he was not wearing the appropriate silk robe befitting his title Bob replied, “I’m waiting for you to die and Will me yours.” Laughter ensued. As always, there was sarcasm and dark wit mixed with humility. People were drawn to Bob for that. Once at trial Bob was about to commence his cross-examination of a defence expert. Before Bob got a word out the witness could not contain himself and confessed his sins—he exclaimed something like, “Yes Mr. Ross, I know you’re going to examine me so I’ll just tell everyone now I am an alcoholic and I’m divorced and I haven’t really done much in my field in the last few years.


Jan Advocate 2017
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