Shortly after midnight, the morning of March 18, Oak Bay lost a dedicated volunteer.
Bob Carter died in hospice at the age of 90.
“The perfect Irishman he got through St. Paddy’s Day,” said friend Illarion Gallant. “He knew it was important.”
Carter was known in the community for decades of volunteer work with the local volunteer association and CNIB.
“Bob Carter left a beautiful legacy at Oak Bay Volunteer Services and the community of Oak Bay,” said Renee Lormé-Gulbrandsen, executive director of OBVS. “Having volunteered with OBVS for nearly 30 years, Bob’s commitment to the community was evident in the countless hours of companionship and services provided to our clients, as well as the many volunteer hours spent providing administrative support to the organization, including his participation on our envelope stuffing team in his later years. Bob’s friendly smile and engaging conversation will be missed by many at Oak Bay Volunteers.”
He was awarded an Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work with CNIB, notes Mayor Nils Jensen who visited Carter the day before he died.
“He was such a wonderful man, gentle, kind, unassuming and he really had a sense of wanting to contribute and add to the community. He was a volunteer, he helped out wherever he could,” Jensen said. “He lived a full and fulsome life and contributed wherever he went. It was an honour to know him.”
The CNIB (formerly Canadian National Institute for the Blind) office on Richmond Road has a library named Carter-Ainsworth in tribute to Carter and his partner of 50 years Frank Ainsworth. Ainsworth continues to live in their Oak Bay home, dealing with health issues of his own.
The weather drew them to Oak Bay from Toronto about 30 years ago. They moved in July, and by November both were signed up with Oak Bay Volunteer Services.
Gallant “inherited” the family friend when he moved to B.C.
“He was second in command in elections Ontario and my father was in advertising. They were bad boys. They were Toronto business guys and they would go for afternoon scotches. That’s how they did business back in the day,” Gallant said. The two artists shared a mindset.
“What I really appreciated about him was his sense of community and the importance of making his contribution,” Gallant agreed. “He really respected and believed in civic life, he believed in community and respected Nils and council.”
Jensen recalls a day Carter came with an oak leaf. Carter approached Oak Bay with the idea of a stainless steel oak leaf design that could be engraved with a message for the recipient. After searching he’d found the perfect one to work with artist Gallant and craft the oak leaf shaped memento for the district.
“He donated them out of the kindness of his heart because he felt Oak Bay should have something to recognize special efforts and special occasions,” Jensen said. “Those are the kinds of things Bob would do for people.”
You won’t find an obituary or service for the self-made, altruistic, well-read and cultured man, Gallant said. It isn’t what he wanted.
“He was 90 and he had a good life and I think he was ready.”
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