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-Bob Riffle has passed away

287 posts in this topic

It is with the greatest sadness in my heart to have to tell you all that Bob Riffle passed away suddenly last evening.  

His being missed by us all is a vast understatement.

Paul

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I have never personally Bob Riffle but have been in contact via email.  His passing comes as a shock and I want to extend my condolences to his family, friends and to the extended palm family.  It will be a great loss to the horticultural world.

Robert

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Oh no. I never had the opportunity to meet Bob, but I did send many PM's. I know this is a major loss for the palm and horticulture world. My condolences to his friends and family.

Zac

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To all,

   With sadness, I am sorry to hear this bad news. My sincere condolences to his family,friends and to the whole palm community.

   Jeff  Searle

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I was getting ready to post a new topic. I will wait. I am too sad.

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This is such a sad loss for all of us.  Please extend our love and condolences to his family.

Phil

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I'm devastated. I was looking forward to many piano-related discussions, as well as palms, ferns etc.

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I am terribly sad. I will miss him a lot. Things are not going to be the same without him here.

Anna

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Can't find the right words right now. Just that my prayers are with his family.

Bret

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Through his book with Paul Craft i have gained such an education...when i go to this board, or open "An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms", which is nearly every day, I will be thankful that such a person was put in our midst.

My condolences to all who knew him personally.

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My heart felt condolences to his family members.may God give

them the courage to over come this grief.

Kris.

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Wow...I fell asleep last night with his book.

Paul...Can you please post a short bio about him? Most (all?) of us read the book you guys wrote, but I would think very few of us knew much about him. Or anyone else?

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Wow...very sad news  :(

He was never too busy to chime in on a topic or answer a specific question.  Though I never met him personally, he was held with the highest degree of respect and admiration.

My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Matt

:(

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A sad day. A masterful teacher has left us.  His knowledge and documentation of the splendid palm tree is a wonderful botanical contribution.

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oh gosh this is really sad. I am really going to miss hearing from him he always encouraged me with being interested in plants.

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I'm very sad with the news...this is major loss for everyone of us who had the privilege to benefit from his deep knowledge for plants in our daily companionship here in this board. My prayers and sincere deep sorrow in the memory of our friend.

May the seeds of his love for palms continue to germinate around the world, in our gardens and in our hearts.

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Robert Lee Riffle was passionate about plants, palms in particular. He genuinely cared about the content and quality of this forum and in recent months devoted most of his waking hours to its betterment. We’ve lost a dear friend and champion for our cause.

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I had but a few personal e-mails with the esteemed Robert Lee Riffle, but coupled with his posts here on the board and his books, I know I will sorely miss his wit and charm as well as his desire to share his vast knowledge of plants.

It is sad indeed to ponder no new books, no RLR responses to posts here on the board, and knowing I will not get the chance to meet in person the man behind the persona.

Alan

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I had the honor of meeting him in Boynton Beach this last year.  I found him very humble for a man of his magnitude.  He had the time for everyone.  His humor and wit will be sorely missed.

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Bob's passing comes as a total shock to me. I surely will miss Bob, our visits to each others palm/tropicals gardens, general conversations, e-mails, post replies, etc.

I'm also saddened that Bob (and selfishly for myself) did not have the chance to complete his latest palm book, which I looked forward to obtaining for my reference library.

I owe to Bob much of my interest in palms and tropicals. He had a way of esculating (and exacerbating) a once-under- control palm/tropicals hobby that soon went amuck! Thanks, Bob, I will always be grateful for such a fine hobby!

Two photos of Bob (see caption on photo) taken at the June 2003 Central Florida Palm and Cycad Society hosted by me and my wife, Cathy.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/570872...042496162vgTAyo

http://community.webshots.com/photo/570872...042496162Fdrjtt

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So sad. This is a great loss for all of us. He was such a great guy. Robert, you already are sorely missed....

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Mr. Riffle was the a greatest addition to the message board .  It was always good but when he took over it sent the qulity here to the stars.  Very sad as all will miss his insight that in a sense we all got to enjoy for free.  

Adios Amigo

Curt

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As sadness fills our hearts, remember all that this great man contributed to society and rejoice in the privilege that we had in learning from his experience, knowledge and kindness that will live on in all of us. Mr. Riffle, you will be missed.

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I was shocked and saddened to find out about Robert Riffle's sudden death. I was just in e-mail contact with him earlier in the week because he needed a few photos of Euterpe edulis for his new book, and I was able to help him out. The Forum is definitely not going to be the same without Bob and his unique input and comments. I know he will be missed by all of us, and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.

I was fortunate to meet Bob last year when the IPS had its board meeting at the Montgomery Botanical Center in Miami. Bob and I had a long and interesting conversation, that I will always remember fondly. It's with great sadness I realize that I won't be able to have any more conversations with him.

Bo-Göran

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I can't believe it.  What a sad blow.  

Thanks for sharing your passion, Robert.  I was always stimulated by your words.  

Never a harsh note, always encouraging, a true gentleman.

Aloha nui loa, Robert

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Robert,you touched my life with your humor & with your knowledge & passion for palms.

selamat jalan--blessed journey.

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I'm a relative newcomer, only about a year on the board and I can remember Robert took the time to answer my most basic of questions, and he did so always with respect.

As I've continued to grow in my enthusiasm and knowledge of palms, I've naturally learned more of his acheivements in this field. This makes the occasional  contributions to my posts and other topics all the more meaningful, but also humbles you to know that a man of his accomplishments would still take the time to answer or shine light on what must seem like the most rudimentary of questions - again always with respect.

I can tell you that he must have had a great impact on a large number of people, because he certainly helped kindle the affinity for tropical plants and palms I've always had into a (mostly) healthy obsession!

I would also be interested in a bio to know more about what I'm sure was a rich life with many accomplishments.

God Bless.

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I remember the first contact I had with Robert. I had two of his books, and posted a question on Gardenweb and referred to a book I had read about tropical plants. The responder answered the question perfectly, and then asked, "which book did you get that from?". I responded that is was The Tropical Look, by this great author robert Riffle.  The next post, someone pointed out, "did you see the name on the person who answered your question? I looked, and it was Bob Riffle. I was starstruck.

Since then he has answered many questions and shared much knowledge. I will miss him.

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This comes a huge shock for those of us who are not privy to the state of his health prior to his passing. Clearly, anyone who considers himself a member of the palm growing community has to be saddened by this news.

I never had the good fortune to meet him, and feel much the poorer for having missed this experience. His two major works in collaboration with Timber Press are touchstones for tropical gardeners and have been acclaimed by critics far more knowledgeable than me. I have the greatest of admiration for the effort and love involved in producing them. This admiration always extends to his coauthor of the latter work, Paul Craft.

Godspeed to him.

Jay

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It was a dark and stormy night...

Actually, it was a sunny Seattle autumn afternoon in the early 90s when I first logged onto the Gardening Forum of CompuServe during my lunch hour at the office.  

I was in the forum for about 3 minutes when my screen split in half and someone typed a message, “Do you know Dr. Frasier Crane?”  

This was the new age of the Internet for the masses and we’d been warned of stalkers and dangerous beings lurking online waiting to rob us of our identities or our possessions.  I immediately disconnected.  The next day the same thing happened and I bravely answered.  

It was, of course, Bob Riffle.  We were never sure why he chose “Diane Laird / Seattle” to talk to; he didn’t normally chat online.  I later imagined all of us online as individual entities circling the earth, sometimes on parallel paths and sometimes the paths crossing in a wonderful way.

Bob and I chatted online for hours and hours at a time over the next months until finally he insisted on calling me.  Our first conversation lasted 9 hours.  Over the past 13 years, our phone conversations have averaged about 20-30 hours a week.  

The first conversation covered an interesting event in his life – Timber Press had asked him to do a proposal for a book on tropical plants.  He wasn’t sure he would; wasn’t sure they were serious.  Subsequent conversations were my forcing him to write the proposal which we emailed back and forth (I have a business background and can edit ruthlessly) until it was right.  Off to Timber it went and thus The Tropical Look:  An Encyclopedia of Dramatic Landscape Plants was born.  

Over the next year or two I would torture and he would write.  He’d email and I’d edit (writing, not information).  We would get tired and have terrible fights about things like how to pronounce “hosta.”  (He put the plant name pronunciations in at my request.)  Bob discovered that the MS dictionary pronounced (mispronounced) hosta the way he did; one day I answered the phone to an electronic voice saying “hoesta” over and over again as he clicked the speaker icon in the dictionary.

I would say that about 90 percent of the information in The Tropical Look came straight from his marvelous brain without any need to consult outside references.  It was a life-changing experience for me to be a part of that project and the two of us together opened doors in the horticultural world for each other.  He said I changed his life, too; I know I did.  

When The Tropical Look was published, the first half of the dedication read, “This book is for Diane Laird, who wanted it so much she made it happen….”  That’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

This story has a lot of me in it because the two of us have been inextricably entwined.  I’ll continue Bob’s story as my aching heart allows so you can see a little more of the person who was Robert Lee Riffle.  

Did you see the movie, Four Weddings and a Funeral?  There was a poem by W. H. Auden that caused many of us to dissolve in tears.  These lines are with me today:

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song…”

To be continued…

Diane (“Kirkland”) Laird

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That was great stuff, Diane...more please when you have the time and composure.

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Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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This is a major bummer. I only knew him virtually through the internet, but am deeply saddened.  

Rest In Peace RLR

uploaded_RLR.gif

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What a sad sad day.  I never had the chance to meet Mr. Riffle, but he always meant so much to me.  His two books, the Tropical Look and the Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms, are my favorites - many evenings I have read them into the night - what is truly beautiful in this world are contained within their pages.

Those could only have come from the mind of a very special and wonderful person.   We were so fortunate that he maintained this forum for us, and it was made even better by his participation in it.

It's so hard to believe he is gone.  My condolences - and prayers for his family.  RLR, you will be sorely missed.

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I share and echo everyone's shock and sorrow. I am sure you touched more lives than you ever realized. We will all miss you.

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This is a shock! It's hard to believe this amazing person is not among us any longer. Although I never met him in person, I liked him very much. I am going miss him a lot.

Robert, THANK YOU for everything!

Jan

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I don't know what to say as it has all been said here already and I can find commonality in each post. An email never went un-answered when I sent one to him. A big, big, shock.

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Is  hard  to  belive!!

My  comdolences  to  is family!

M@x

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I will miss his advice on the internet as he always seemed to have time for us newbies as well as his regulars.

Roberts advice to me when I visited Miami earlier this year was invaluable and I visited all the places he recommended.

A very sad loss to all and my sympathies go out to his family and friends.

Kev and Jackie

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I only knew him from his books and the message board, but I was always impressed with his willingness and enthusiasm in sharing his vast knowledge with anyone who asked.  His comments were sprinkled with humor as well, I sensed he was a man with many friends.

He will be deeply missed by many.  My condolences to his family.

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