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In Memoriam: Bob Plank

Miriam Nelson and Bob Plank at the jsb.org campaign office

We are sad to report that Bob Plank, one of jsb.org’s dedicated volunteers, has died. As you can read in an obituary in today’s Times Colonist, Bob passed away on February 7, 2011, at Victoria Hospice, after a battle with cancer.

A contractor by profession, and a lover of classic machinery – he proudly restored a ’65 Thunderbird – Bob always brought a passionate yet practical point of view to all debates about the fate of the Johnson Street Bridge. Bob gathered more than 200 signatures on the petition to force a referendum on the bridge’s replacement. Fiercely independent, and armed with a mischievous sense of humour, Bob also made his own “Vote NO” signs leading up to the referendum campaign – and posted them inside the Conference Centre during a pro-replacement event, arguing that the building was a public facility and should permit opposing views. We will always remember his great spirit in keeping up the fight to save Victoria’s landmark bridge.

A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at the Esquimalt Legion (622 Admirals Road) on Saturday, February 26, from 3 pm to 7 pm. If you have your own memories of Bob, please feel free to add them here.

9 comments to In Memoriam: Bob Plank

  • Anne Russo

    Bob Plank was one of the staunchest, most energetic volunteers to come forward to champion the Blue Bridge. I always appreciated his cheerful willingness, his feisty determination to stand up and be counted at city meetings and his gleeful sense of humour. He was one of the very special people brought together by the Blue Bridge campaign and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to get to know him.

  • Brian

    Bob was a big inspiration to me over the counter-petition drive. His steady determination to see i through combined with his irrepressibly wry humour over the course of the campaign and beyond will be sorely missed.

    I’ll see you all at the Legion on the 26th and if we have a bottle of Blue Bridge Ale left I look forward to raising a glass of it in his honour.

  • carol sokoloff

    very sad to hear this news… it hardly seems possible for such an invincible spirit. I’m so pleased I had the chance to know him (all due to the JSB effort.) I hope the aggravation of past months did not hasten this sad event. carol

  • Dennis Robinson

    Bob could often be found at Serious Coffee in the Cook Street Village, during the counter-petition campaign. One week there was a cold snap, and we found refuge in that shop while we discussed the merits of the Blue Bridge. While I sometimes didn’t see his point of view, he didn’t mince words, since that was his style. He was a valuable contribution to the campaign team, and will be missed by those friends.

  • Carmel Thomson

    I remember Bob’s wit, good humour and sense of fair play. In a polite and friendly manner, Bob would dare to say what others would not. He would substitute mild or indirect words for language one might consider to be too blunt in order to make a point. And make a point he did! I share several memorable Bob Plank euphemisms below.

    On the $8.6 million rehabilitation option: “Back up a little bit there. The understanding you had originally, when you were with Delcan (you) quoted an $8.5 million figure, which you are disputing. But then after you left Delcan and went to MMM, your successor quoted that same figure.”

    On escalating costs: “I think originally it was $4.5 million somewhere. Then it was 8.6, then $25, and then … it jumped to $35. Then all of a sudden we’re at $100 million. There’s been so many figures, you could loose your hair.”

    On the state of communications: “You could have saved everybody a lot of headaches here if you said that it was $8.5 million to sand blast it, paint, mechanical, electrical. Anything like the ‘S’ curve (any of those frills), the bicycle lanes and all that are ‘extra’. Then people would at least know where it stands.”

    On the condition of the bridge piles: “You start looking into this in this computerized age and find out the Superdome was on wood piles, the Romans were building on wood piles, the Empress Hotel is on wood piles. So, you get through that hurdle. The next thing is maybe they’re not creosoted. So, then you start looking into that one and find out creosoting became an engineering standard in 1850 and pressure coating was the standard by 1865. It must be a bit of stretch to think that here we are: We’re not sure if our bridge is sitting on the right piles!”

    On the general state of affairs: “When it comes out $8.5 million, in the minds of my neighbours, and then all of a sudden it goes to a $100 million, it’s sort of like the Basi-Virk thing. What happened here?”

    Bob Plank was a gentle, sensible and practical man. I count myself lucky to have known him and to have worked together with him on the Blue Bridge campaign.

  • Marlene Hunter

    I would also like to offer a little memorium about Bob, whom I saw occasionally when he popped into the office on Blanshard at the same time that I was there. He was always so friendly and full of fun. Perhaps he is still, somewhere in the stratosphere, sending us friendly and funny thoughts.

    Because it was a relatively long time ago, now, I had to stop and think before his image flashed on to my interior screen. Now that it has done so, the one thing that stands out above all others was his delightful and somewhat nonchalant humour.

    Blessings on him, wherever he is.

  • Stephanie Ustina

    Miriam, Though I never met Bob, I remember my first contact with the Blue Bridge folks at the Fernwood Pub where I was fortunate to sit at a table with you, and I was amazed at your strength, fiery spirit and humour. And by all the accounts, and the picture of the two of you on the JSB website, Bob was the same. One spirit, two bodies. My heart is with you at this difficult time. Steph Ustina

  • Leena Plank

    Thank you for all the comments people posted about my dad. He was a character and felt very strongly about honesty in politics and business. I thank him for instilling this ideal in me-even if it’s frustrating and seems like a pipe dream at times. He asked all the right questions about the bridge but unfortunately never got all the answers he worked hard to find. We all respected his commitment to issues he felt strongly about. I will miss debating with him about important issues. It’s nice to hear people talk about my dad’s unrelenting spirit and enduring sense of humor. He will be greatly missed for sure.