Robert Wilfrid Matthews
1918 – 2003
…Bob Matthews was born at his family’s home in Huronville, Saskatchewan on October 17, 1918. It would be more than seventy-five years later, after already having lived a full and active life, before Bob would have any indication of his impending kidney disease.
Shortly after his birth, Bob and his family, parents Wilfrid and Christina, brothers Lindsay and Percival and sister Patricia, moved to Winnipeg. In 1941, with World War II raging, Bob joined the air force. On October 20, 1943, while in Vancouver, a group of airmen decided to attend the United Services Centre where a young woman named Beatrice Amy Nanson happened to be working as a hostess. Bob and Amy were married at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver on May 12, 1945. Bob was discharged from the service the following year.
…In 1948, Bob and Amy moved to Victoria and went into business with Bob’s uncle selling office equipment at a company, which later became RW Matthews Agencies Ltd. Approximately ten years later, when Bob’s uncle retired they took over the business. At one point Amy went in to help out for a few days and ended up staying for more than twenty years.
During their time in Victoria Bob and Amy had two children, Philip and Robyn, both of whom are now married and living on the Mainland. While the children were growing up the family lived in the Cadboro Bay area.
In addition to working together, Bob and Amy also enjoyed much of their leisure time together, golfing and playing bridge. Bob played his last bridge match only a few days before he went into hospital, shortly before his death.
…One hobby they didn’t share was Bob’s love of music and singing. He performed with numerous choirs over the years including the Victoria Village Squires, the Totem Tones Quartet, the Fish and Chaps Quartet and most recently the Pacific Aires, as well as with various church choirs. The performances often meant travelling throughout western Canada, particularly while he was singing with the Totem Tones. He also played ukulele and piano, although the latter was only done for his own enjoyment. Bob also enjoyed sketching.
After thirty years in the office equipment business, Bob and Amy decided to sell it in 1978, when Bob was sixty years old. Shortly after Bob and Amy decided to move from Cadboro Bay to Allbay Road on Robert’s Bay in Sidney. As their children were now grown they were also able to travel extensively, everywhere from California, Hawaii and Southeast Asia to England and Europe. They also made frequent trips to Chilliwack, the Okanagan and Saskatchewan to visit family. The one place they never made it to, though, was Australia.
It wasn’t until March 1995, at the age of 76 that Bob first became ill. In October of 1996, after about eighteen months of being very tired and generally unwell he landed in hospital. While in hospital he was diagnosed with kidney failure and was told that he needed to start dialysis immediately. It was left up to Amy and the rest of the family to decide whether he should go on hemodialysis or peritoneal as Bob was too unwell to help decide. Although a difficult decision at the time, since they had no knowledge of or experience with kidney disease, they never regretted choosing hemodialysis. Over the years Bob dialysed both at Hillside and the Renal Unit.
…Bob’s diagnosis came as a real jolt to the Matthews. Suddenly, Bob and Amy faced a huge lifestyle change. Their travelling was severely curtailed, although they still made the occasional trip to Chilliwack, Kelowna or Saskatoon. Bob gave up golf, due to his generally poor health. (During his seven years on dialysis he averaged about three hospital stays a year.) Bob continued to sing, but only with the smaller Pacific Aires choir. Eventually, Bob and Amy decided to move from their home of twenty-five years on Allbay Rd to a senior’s complex in Sidney. In preparation for their move they held a garage sale that earned of phenomenal $1000, all of which was generously donated to VIKPA.
…They moved into their new home on December 13, 2002 and Bob died exactly one year later, on December 13, 2003. After Bob’s death, his family asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to VIKPA in his memory. VIKPA received more than forty donations totalling some $2000.
Although Amy still plays bridge, she is no longer able to play in the couples groups, which she so enjoyed. She gave up golfing around the same time Bob did, when he started dialysis. She is still active, though, and still drives, but she finds the evenings particularly lonely. Fortunately, Bob kept a diary throughout much of his life which she has started reading since his death. She says it has been a real comfort and makes him seem closer, and because they were married for fifty-nine years, much of it is her life also. What a lovely gift to leave behind.