Angus W. J. (Ron) Robertson RIP

Written by  //  January 12, 2020  //  Absent Friends  //  No comments

ANGUS W. J. ROBERTSON (Ron) May 30, 1930 – December 28, 2019
Our beloved Dad passed away on December 28, 2019, at the age of 89. Ron was born in Toronto and grew up in Montreal, Nassau, and Montebello. He was one of the original first-year Charter Members of Sedbergh School, and earned degrees from Bishop’s University (BA ’50), Oxford (Wadham College, BA-MA ’53) and McGill University (BCL ’56).
His career in the Foreign Service included postings to Colombo, Sri Lanka and the UN in New York, and he later served as Ambassador of Canada to Finland. His last posting was as Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ron was an expert skier and daily jogger, had a lifelong interest in cooking, and was a generous host to friends and family. His natural curiosity led him to be among the first to try new technology, and he loved travelling and exploring the world until late in his life. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of literature and world history and was a great, spirited storyteller. He was a born animal-lover. His home, like his mind, was always open, and many friends gathered at his table over the years. He was a loving father and grandfather, and the keystone to our family.
Son of the late Angus Gerald Robertson and the late Catherine Grace Waldron. He will be greatly missed by his children, Miranda Abrams (Douglas), Anthony Robertson (Isabelle Solon Helal), Alexander Robertson (Huma Fazil), and Zoë Robertson; and his grandchildren, Sydney, Elliott, Harry, Émilie, Sophie, and Haris. He will also be fondly remembered by his former spouses, Rochelle de Zylva Schmallenbach and Terhi Salomaa; as well as cousins, Marion (Manny) Robertson and Chuck Gross, Renée Sorese and Marc Gelinas; along with extended family and many friends and former colleagues around the world. He was predeceased by his brothers, Douglas and Richard Myles and by his cousin, Susan (Suzy) Robertson Sorese. The family would like to thank Anita Herrera for her support over the years.
Family and friends are invited to Racine, Robert & Gauthier Funeral Home at 180 Montreal Road Ottawa, Ontario on Saturday, January 11, 2020 for a visitation from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., followed by a Funeral Service at 3:30 p.m. in the chapel of the funeral home.

12 January
A note about Ron’s funeral sent to some of his far-flung friends
The weather was not as bad as had been predicted. The freezing rain held off until later in the evening, but it poured all day.
It was a simple service, held at a funeral home with which Ron had struck a bargain some 20 years ago (!) when it was just opening and was offering ‘specials’ to people who ‘booked early’. So typically Ron.
His children did him proud.
The four children were the only eulogists. First the two elder ones, starting with Miranda, followed by the two younger ones. Each pair stood together as they spoke, so avoiding the awkward getting up/sitting down intervals. Together, the four wove a delightful narrative that was perfect in tone, painting a colourful, intimate, portrait of Ron’s life and their lives with him, and injecting moments of humour.
They carried off the entire event with such grace; it was a perfect tribute to the remarkable man we knew and love. He would have been so proud of them.
Of course, Ron had planned the funeral, so it was short on religion, although there was a presiding clergyman (not sure what denomination) who spoke well and kept things moving along. The 23rd Psalm was recited.
The only prayer was the Our Father.
There was a female piper – that was not part of the plan, she was a substitute for the designated piper. I think it is the first time I have seen a female piper and no doubt Ron would have enjoyed the originality!
The room/chapel was packed and though a lot of white hair, there were also many younger people, a reflection of Ron’s abiding interest in and mentoring of the next generations, as well as the perpetually open door at home for his children and their friends.
Following the service, everyone was invited to Ron’s house for a convivial reception – it was packed and almost impossible to circulate, but it was a further example of Ron’s eclectic collection of friends.
On the train coming home, Ron’s cousin Marion (Manny) Robertson, Reed Scowen’s daughter Amy and ex-wife Mary Anne (McNally) were in the same car. I had never met Manny, nor Amy, and had not seen Mary Anne for years, so that made for a very pleasant, chatty, trip with lots of good memories exchanged. A fitting end to a long day of fond farewell to Ron.
One final note: Zoe was the one who wrote Ron’s obituary. When I congratulated her on how well done it was, I mentioned that in one of our many, many, phone calls, Ron had sharply criticized an obituary that used the word ‘beloved’ and said he thought it was superfluous and silly. I was careful not to use it in the obituary I wrote for David! I noted that Zoe had used it in her opening sentence and she laughed, saying that she had done so despite Ron’s opinion as, after all, he was beloved. Another sign that Ron’s encouragement of independent thinking has taken root in his offspring.
I shall miss him terribly, but am grateful to him for connecting me to all of you and I know we will honour his memory by continuing the dialogue that he started.

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