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Recipient of SFU’s first home-delivered degree dies

Valerie Bob will be remembered for her courage and perseverance
Sisters Frances Bob, left and Jillian Harris, right, with Cowichan Tribes chief Lydia Hwitsum at Valerie Bob’s PhD commemoration on Aug. 9. (Photo by Don Bodger)

The Penelakut woman who became the first person ever to receive a PhD degree delivered to her home by Simon Fraser University faculty members has died.

Dr. Valerie Nadine Bob, also known as Elle Val Hawk, was 66. She could not leave her home in the Tsussie Road Reserve to receive her degree after being bed-ridden with cancer so Drs. Dorothy Christian and George Agnes from the Graduate Studies office at SFU brought it to her on Aug. 9.

Related story: SFU degree presented in groundbreaking fashion to Penelakut woman with cancer

Bob died on Friday, Sept. 1. She is survived by sisters Jillian Harris and Francis Bob; daughter Sophia Bob; son Ricardo Hardin Jr. and seven grandchildren/great grandchildren.

Funeral service was at the Duncan Shaker Church on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

“She really prepared us for this day, reluctantly,” said daughter Sophia.

“We have a lot of support with our family and friends and it’s been very helpful.”

Sophia added her mom’s words to live by were posted on her Facebook page intro, a quote from T. Winder: “Lead with love, be gentle with our hearts and lean into our own power and be positive.”

Valerie Bob was well-known in the community and touched the hearts of all her friends and acquaintances.

Christian and Agnes brought along full PhD graduation regalia that included the robe, hat and hood to Bob’s home to honour the completion of her Doctor of Philosophy (Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies) degree.

“This is the first PhD conferred in this manner at SFU,” confirmed Agnes at the time.

Bob had battled cancer for three years, but continued to fulfill the requirements for her PhD that was particularly important in preserving the writing, culture, songs, prayers and stories of the Hul̓ q̓’umı̓’num̓ language.

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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