FENTY, Robert Alexander
March 5, 1939 – February 18, 2017
Bob passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at his home in Nanaimo, BC, surrounded by his wife and four children. Aged 77 years, he fought a courageous battle with cancer.
Bob leaves his beloved wife of 55 years, Marie (née Hammerstrom) Fenty; his daughters, Cindy (Paul), Debbie (Jim), and Shelley (Steve); son, Brent; and five grandchildren, David, Stephen, Linnea, Bryson, and Emily. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara, and her family; in-laws, Linda, Larry (Rose), Carol, and Lyle; many special nieces and nephews; life-long friend, Dorothy and daughters; close friends, Maureen and Dennis McLeod; and many other loved relatives and dear friends. Bob was predeceased by his parents, William Alexander Fenty and Anne (Phipps, Fenty) Fry, and grandson, David Maier.
Bob was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and grew up in Melfort and Wetaskiwin. He joined the Sea Cadets in 1955 and then enlisted in the Canadian Navy in 1957, where he served for three years. After the Navy, he returned to school part-time while also working for a wholesale jeweller in Vancouver. He later moved to Calgary where he worked for Eaton’s department store in the fur department. Bob and Marie met in Calgary and were married in 1961 in Entwistle, Alberta. They moved to Edmonton where they began their family, and Bob worked as Sports Manager for the Royal Glenora Club. Bob went on to work for the Federated Co-op in Calgary, then was transferred first to the Co-op store in Red Deer, and then on to the Eckville, Alberta store. During these years, Bob was actively involved in the Boy Scouts of Canada and the Optimist Club of Red Deer. Bob and his family returned to Edmonton where he began his career as a jeweller with People’s Credit Jewellers. Several promotions then took Bob and his family back to Red Deer, then to Regina, Saskatchewan, and back again to Calgary where Bob was Area Manager for McKenzie’s Jewellers, a division of People’s Jewellers.
Bob and Marie had a lifelong dream to return to Vancouver Island where Marie was born. They were able to realize that dream when they purchased Grassick’s Jewellers in Nanaimo in 1987 from Rotarian Glenn Forbes. Glen agreed to sell on one condition – that Bob join the Nanaimo Rotary Club. Bob embraced this opportunity, as he was no stranger to service clubs and had been a charter president of the Optimist Club in Red Deer, Alberta. Bob and Marie operated Grassick’s Jewellers in two different locations (Church Street and Brooks Landing) until 2007 when they retired. Bob continued to work two days a week (up until his illness prevented it) at the Brooks Landing Home Hardware. When asked why he wanted to keep working, he stated, “I get paid for having fun,” and he truly enjoyed working with long-time friend and owner, Jack, and his team.
Bob was a proud Rotarian and an active and passionate community volunteer for the entire 31 years he has lived in Nanaimo. Bob served as President of the Rotary Club in 1994-95. He believed strongly in the many programs Rotary focused on that serve as a conduit to world peace. These included the Rotarian Group Study Exchange program where he was both a committee member and District chair for four years. He was on the Board of Directors as a Director for the Youth Exchange program. These programs work with team leaders and youth from around the world. The Youth Exchange program provides opportunities for youth, both here at home and around the world, to learn about each other’s cultures and to also gain leadership skills. Bob was an avid reader and worked tirelessly over the years supporting the Rotary club’s biannual fundraising book sale.
His commitment to Rotary was evident in the many awards he received including the Paul Harris Award, which is the highest award an individual Rotarian can receive. Only 150 are awarded each year by the Board of Rotary International, and it recognizes Service Above Self. He also received an award for his outstanding perfect attendance of 25 years and was recently awarded the Rotarian Honorary Membership in recognition of his outstanding service.
Bob was responsible for starting the Nanaimo Cops program after Grassick’s Jewellers was robbed a couple of times and the increase of crime in downtown Nanaimo started to threaten the livelihood of local businesses. In addition, he became involved with a Nanaimo downtown business association to try to help with rejuvenating the downtown business area. Bob also looked for any opportunity to volunteer. He was involved with BC Seniors and Summer Games and Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation, to name just a few.
Bob had a personal love of cooking, which led him to volunteering at Barsby High School Culinary Program with dear friend, Chef Bruce Chandler, and later with Chef Holly Knox after Bruce’s sudden passing. Bob loved working with children and making them smile and laugh. He believed strongly that you should serve your community, expand your horizons, meet people, and make friends from all over the world.
Bob loved his family and really enjoyed travelling, camping, and exploring new places. He especially liked relaxing and spending time at his property on Lake Cowichan. His personal passions included cooking, baking, winemaking, reading, and various different hobbies. He touched the lives of many people and was a true pillar of the Nanaimo community. His smiling face, positive attitude, and larger than life personality and voice are going to be greatly missed.
Bob’s family would like to thank the medical team involved in his care: Dr. Janssen, Dr. Brown, Dr. Sulpher, Dr. Layher, Dr. Kulla, the NRGH Palliative Care Unit team – Dr. Audi and nurses, Dawn and Julie, and his long-time doctor and friend, Dr. Swain.
A celebration of life will be held on what would have been his 78th birthday on Sunday, March 5, 2017 at the Coast Bastion Hotel Banquet/Conference Center from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Private family burial to follow on Monday. In recognition of his significant contribution to youth in our community, the Rotary Club of Nanaimo has created the Bob Fenty Memorial Scholarship for a local graduating student. In lieu of flowers or memorial gifts, please make donations to this scholarship. Please contact the Nanaimo Rotary Club for details and criteria.