Monday, June 29, 2009

A Big Farewell to the Gentle Giant

Yesterday, Sunday June 28th, our beloved friend and fellow paraglider, Bob Johnson, died as a result of a pulmonary embolism. while under care at the hospital. He had been having events of weakness and shortness of breath, enough to seek out medical care, for the last two weeks. He had returned to the hospital on Friday because he was feeling worse, then yesterday he collapsed and hospital staff were unable to revive him.

Bob was 49 years old. He has an elderly mother in Aina Haina; two sisters, and a lovable dog named Gus.

Bob is something of a legend around the paragliding community here. He was a skilled pilot, instructor, and always had the time to lend a hand or share some knowledge.

Many of you have your own thoughts and feelings and are welcome to share them here. As Bob's closest friend, "Brazil" Ray has taken it upon himself to help the Johnson family in these trying days, as are many others. Plans are being made as to services and such, and we will announce them here shortly.

Until then, remember that a little bit of Bob lives on in everyone who knew him, be grateful for the moments we had. We'll miss you buddy!


JeffMc said...

firedave: One of the kindest, most generous people you will find on this planet passed today, our own 'Big' Bob Johnson. The world will be missing one of the greats. aloha my friend. Peace.

Sawzall: Thanx Dave. Nobody could come up with the words to mention such a tragic occurrence.

JeffMc: [link]

sandy: [link]

Bon Bon: Wow...thanks Sandy - those are some really great shots. I will really miss Big Bob.

thebeeman: Bob, I only meet him three times, but he was so warm, a big man, so kind.

Lab Rat :Bob, I love you man. Please tell my brother I said hi, and I will see you guys both very soon. I miss you both.

JeffMc: Still in shock this morning. Bob was the "gentle giant" of our group. He had the warmest smile and was just the sweetest guy. Aloha, Big Bob - you will be sorely, sorely missed.

Ginny: Sandy, thank you for the pictures. they are awesome. I am so sad, this is very hard to reason with.

Scrappy: [link]

Sharky: Wow...RIP Bob. One heckuva guy. Always smiling and encouraging the newbies. [link]

JeffMc: [link]

MauiDoug: Thanks Bob for teaching me how to use my A's and C's. Your huge heart will be greatly missed! God Bless your family and rest in peace "Big Bob!"

Steve: I am stunned.....what a great guy we lost. He was always so helpful and good natured. He will be missed.

Larry: One of my first kiting days at MPU I had the pleasure of watching Bob and then sit with him (a total stranger,I) and spoke together like we had been friends forever. One of my very fondest memories of those who make coming back to Oahu to fly such an anticipated event. Glad to have had the pleasure! Sad to think he'll not be there next time.

Unknown said...

I'm devastated. Bob was such a big wonderful part of my husband George's and my life. He came to Seattle and spoke so warmly and so well when George died in November. Bob and Ray were at the ready to fly me and George's ashes off Makapu'u one month ago. No fly day, but Bob brought handfuls of plumeria from Polly's to toss. And Bob was the man to send George's ashes to the wind. There's no solace or sense to this.

Anonymous said...

so sorry to hear that ! Bob was a great guy and it was a privilege for me to know him. Aloha Buddy !

czech peter

JeffMc said...

A video for Bob at Vimeo and YouTube

JeffMc said...

More comments from the Chatter Box...

David Jebb: In life we ocassionally meet someone special. Bob was that to many of us who were graced with his friendship. Our hearts are deeply saddened by his passing. My thoughts and prayers are with him.

Thom: Firedave thanks for this post, as you all know you have big slippers to fill, my daughters loved Bob so much. Please stop by for a swim they need their Monkey Uncle's & Aunties so stop by any time.

Buttercup: Just found out about Bob. Even though Greg and I have been gone three years, it's still hard to handle. Shared hugs and tears with everybody who will miss him so much.

Dangler: Suz and I are just devistated about Bob. I was hoping to see him later this Summer when I visited. I was bummed out that I did not see him the last time I was on Oahu.

nightshift said...

Lori and I miss our favourite paraglider pilot and Oahu friend, Sideshow Bob. I first met him at Tomato Patch years ago. It was his first time launching there, and after watching him crash 3 times on 3 takeoffs, noisily smashing bushes while rolling down the hill each and every aborted attempt- he says," OK, now I'll help you." I said, "Are you nuts?? You crash 3 times in 2 knots of wind and you want me to fly??" He just roared with laughter. Then we hiked down for a few beers. I felt like I had known him all my life. Being with Bob was like relaxing in your favourite leather armchair. He was a mentor to many, especially Ray, and he added so much richness and leadership to our humble club. And he was the main reason Lori ever showed up at our meetings!
We love you Bob.

Brazilian Ray said...

Bob's long time friend, Camille Komine will be helping the family with the service. She can be contacted at 808-282-1740 and
she is planning on the 12th with a fly-in.
Let's gather as much pictures and videos as we can.
more info to come!

Leo said...

Sad day. I remember him mostly for his patience, allowing for mistakes and learn from them with dignity without saying a word. I will miss that guy, and was hoping to see him when visiting. Aloha big boy.

Leo (Brazil)

Chris Polito said...

Bob and I go back to being best friends in high school(Kaiser). For 32 wonderful years we have had a bond I know was very unique and never taken for granted. He was and is my Best Man for my wife and I (married 27 years). My heart is broken for all of us privileged to call him a friend and we know what an awesome honor it is to have been in his life. I have had the privilege to meet many of his paragliding family in Oregon and Oahu. Ray, I have no words...
I will be there for his send off and look forward to seeing you all again. Much aloha

Denine Polito said...

Oh, Bobby. We will miss you so. All the memories.... How will I tie my shoes without you? Love and Aloha....denine

Berndt said...

Jeff created a very moving video in honor of Bob that seems to capture a bit of who Bob was - or maybe I just see it that way because I had the privelege of knowing him.

Like the video, there are images that play in my mind's eye: Bob giving me site intros when I first started flying the local sites. Bob striding out of his garage with that big gentle smile and a huge handshake. Bob offering me a place to stay after my accident.

I see other images like Bob kicking back on the lanai of his completed house sharing some cold ones with friends as the sun is setting... But that hasn't happened yet, and I can't seem to comprehend that now it never will.

I will truly miss you, Bob.

Prior commitments put me on the mainland on the 12th, so I will unfortunately not be able to join everybody at the memorial, but he will definitely be in my thoughts and I'm sure I can rely on at least one person in attendance to hoist a cold one in celebration of Bob's spirit for me.

I have found a couple of pictures amongst my digital mess and have posted them on flickr:

It seems Flickr no longer provides links to the original resolution, so if anyone would like any of these, feel free to email me.

Suicide said...

Well . . . Hillery & I have just learned of the loss of our beloved Big Bob. This is so terrible.

A few days ago, we were discussing plans for a trip back to Oahu, so that P-3 could see all of his aunties & uncles. Of course, we want to see everyone, but we were particularly looking forward to putting P-3 up on Uncle Bob's shoulders and watching him laugh and kick his little feet. All children love Uncle Bob.

It is too soon for me articulate any emotions . . .

I wish we could be there with all of you right now.

Peter III, Hillery & Peter

J. Millhouse said...

So weird how the best go first sometimes. The time I spent with Bob left an impression of kindness and joy. Super Sad.

Anonymous said...

Bob was first to welcome me on my first visit to Hawaii. He introduced me to Poki - his favorite after flying dish. Great guy. I am sorry that he won't grace the Woodrat fly camp again with his benevolent spirit.

Paul Murdoch

Patricia Childress said...

It is heart warming to see the photos and read the kind notes that so many friends have shared re: Bob Johnson's life and death. We, his NC family share in your loss and ask for your prayers; especially for his mother; Polly;
sisters; Ginger and Mary Jane; special friend Alyssa; and his extended family and friends. My cousin and I visited Hawaii several years ago and found Bob the same adventuresome, loving, considerate and fun "Big Kid" that we had remenbered as a child when he had visited his North Carolina family as a child. He certainly knew how to live and to love!

Anonymous said...

I was just informed of Bob's passing. I worked for him for a while in Honolulu. He had a heart to go along with his height. My favorite picture is of him bending (way down) over a grill, teaching my children how cook meat just right....He was always willing to answer any question and was quick with a joke and a smile. He was a really big kid....with so much love to give....This is a big heart goes out to his family and loved ones that were so important to him.