Posted 14 August 2006 - 07:25 PM
I got the call on Friday evening at 10:30 that Bob had passed. I was shocked and speechless as I had just spoken to him 2 weeks prior. Bobby and I had many evening discussions on the phone about plant meetings, palms and the proper pronunciation of the latin genera, that I constantly slaughtered.
The first time I met Bob was when he came to Mercer Arboretum around 1998. He had been to the garden before, but visited with our botanist at that time and she was not too much into palms or tropicals. I did not know he had come to the garden then. When Ms. Em (later referred as Ms. Neiman Marcus because she was so much maintenance!) brought him to the garden, we did a cart garden tour and I had the most wonderful time talking about the palms and tropicals we had in our collection. He was a botanical genius, passionate about plants and passionate about the people who shared the same love. Bob loved many tropical plants, as well as palms. He was so diverse, so educated, and so hell bent in training me to use the latin words properly when referring to plant genera. The classic I still can't pronounce is Rhapis... You may say Rayfis, but the proper way is Raa-Pis... This was an on-going correction for me to this day!
He was my tropical botanist. I am a horticulturist by trade, so I was always asking him the different characteristics of genera and species. One awesome conversation we had was I asked him to explain the difference between Xanthosoma, Alocasia, and Colocasia which had always baffled me. He did so with perfection.
Bob was like my big brother, who taught me the ways of the botanical world. I love Bob and will miss him greatly. He signed my copy of the "Tropical Look Book" and it said, " To Linda Gay, one of the most knowledgeable, wonderful, pipples in my life.....
My love and respect......
I hold onto those words and tear up with feelings of already missing him... He is in my heart forever... Mercer will dedicate the beautiful Livistona saribus in our collection as Bob's Memorial Palm (it is my favorite and the most beautiful and exotic palm in our collection) and I will find a way to put a bench beneath it for his spirit to rest and reflect and for those of us still left on this planet to connect with him...
I will miss you Bobby!
Linda Gay, Mercer Arboretum Humble, Texas