Good People Doing Good Things — Rob White

Today’s good people post is a bit different than my usual fare, as you’ll see, but I don’t think there can be any argument that Rob White is … was … a good people.  Let me tell you a bit about Rob …

According to his wife, Roberta, he was an unconventional sort.  When they first met, Rob was living in a warehouse, where he made the elaborate paper mâché sculptures that he crafted throughout his life.

“We didn’t even have a kitchen. It wasn’t like a nice loft warehouse. I mean, it was an industrial warehouse on the south side of Edmonton. He was extremely unconventional. He was very eccentric. He never held onto things — like if something was given to him, he would just give it away again.”

When it came time to get married, they “hijacked” another ceremony and gave their vows with red twist ties fashioned into rings.  Later on, when Rob needed a more conventional job, he became an industrial scaffolder, despite a fear of heights.  Rob never gave in to fear.  His two sons, Strider and Alliance, recall what their dad taught them about fear …

“Whatever you’re scared of, go out and master it. Fear is a beacon, run as fast as you can towards it.”

Rob and Roberta married in 1994, started a family and eventually settled in Edmonton’s Parkview neighborhood on a street named Candy Cane Lane.

Last Tuesday, April 6th, Rob was walking his dog, Ace, when he saw a woman’s dog run onto the partially frozen Saskatchewan River.  He quickly tied Ace to a tree and ran to help.  Walking across the ice, Rob was able to grab the dog, but before they could head to safety, the ice broke beneath his feet … man and dog were plunged into the icy river.

Rescue crews arrived within minutes, and while they were able to rescue the dog, they eventually lost sight of Rob and just over three hours later, the search was called off, with Rob being presumed dead.

Now, you may be thinking any number of things at this point, but this was only Rob’s final act of trying to help someone.  Reminisces from his best friend, Chris Barrett, give us a full picture of the person that Rob was …

“He saw somebody in distress. Somebody who needed help. He tied his dog up and went out and did it.  In the paper, all kinds of people are second-guessing what you would do, what you wouldn’t do, but that’s Rob. It wouldn’t have been a thought. Kindness was his brand.”

Rob and Chris met in the 80s, a period of time when both were jumping from one hot business idea (or so they thought) to the next. White’s involved a hot tub rental company.

“I said sometimes he was basically his own cartoon. He’s his own comic book. In your entire life, if you’re lucky, you meet one person like that.  Rob was embarrassingly kind, so there’s zero surprise he would do something like that.  When I say embarrassingly kind, I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean, you look and go, ‘Wish I could do that.’ You know, what he can do so easily. Because he was so authentic.

When I think about today, and when I look around social media, and I look at what people are focused on, with whatever’s going on – you know the whole country is grieving right now over the last couple years, for example – why does a story like this stick out the way it is? It is because there is nothing else other than a guy who was an amazing person who just did that. Just gave it up. That random act of kindness. How can you not be interested in that story?

I’ve seen him so many times where he was always going to do the right thing and didn’t need prodding. He’s the kind of the dad we all wanted to be.”

As I said in the beginning, this is a bit different than my usual ‘good people’ posts.  Our friend rawgod sent this to me a few days ago, suggesting Rob White for a spot in a good people post, and at first I was hesitant.  I’ve never, to the best of my recollection, done a post about someone who died while being a good people, and it seemed that it would add a bit of sorrow when I try to make the good people posts uplifting.  But, as I read several stories about Rob, what he did, and the person he was, I felt drawn in by him, came to respect the life he led and his unselfish devotion to helping, whether another person or an animal.  R.I.P. Rob White … I wish that everyone had a heart like yours.

14 thoughts on “Good People Doing Good Things — Rob White

  1. Thank you for this, Jill. There are yet other parts of the Rob White story to be told, but I shall only tell one, of which he is only a part. You mentioned his paper mâché sculptures, he loved to make beautiful things. But he also liked to make things beautiful. You also mentioned Candy Cane Lane, the street on which he lived. Candy Cane Lane is famous in Edmonton. It is just a short little street, but come Christmas every house on the street does the Christmas light thing up big, and bigger every year. People from all over Alberta, and some non-Albertans too, drive down the magically named Candy Cane Lane to see the magical lights. It is said to be the brightest street in Edmonton, if not a much bigger area. And Rob White’s house led the way. His artistic eye saw things for Christmas lights to do that no one else could think to do. Living 800 kms away, I never got to see it in person, but every year the news shows on every Edmonton channel took a video trip down Candy Cane Lane to show off what an artist could do with lights. The look-see cars were bumper-to-bumper, and at the end was a box where people could give donations of gifts or money to help support all the Christmas charities in Edmonton: food banks, homeless shelters, toys for kids, whatever. There is no record of what they collected over the years, they don’t want to be known for how much, just for doing it to help others whose lives were not as incredible as theirs.
    What Christmas 2021 will be like is anyone’s guess, Rob’s family might not be up to celebrating in the usual way, who could blame them. But I think their neighbours will all chip in to honour Rob’s legacy, and keep every house on the street lit up. I’m sure it would be what Rob would have wanted.
    The world lost not only a good person last week, the world lost a great man who never cared that no one knew. He just did things because they needed doing. RIP.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for adding to the story of Rob White, my friend. I can see that he was a wonderful human being and the kind of person I would love to know. The world has lost another really good people 😢

      Like

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