Lawrence Robert (“Robin”) Jackson died at home in Deep Creek on September 4th, 2010, ten months after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He was 60 years old.
Robin was born at St.-Jean, Quebec. He grew up in a busy household with two brothers, a sister, and a parade of pets. These included his dog Mickey, many times Fastest Eater champion at the local fall fair, and a tiny skunk whom Robin rescued and dubbed “Pepe,” who lived to a ripe old age. Robin was an exceptional student and skipped two grades, resulting in his being the shortest person in his high school for three years. He joined the local militia unit and was delighted to earn his license to drive a “deuce” at the age of 15. Driving cars came later, including a Mini woodie station wagon, and a red Miata.
Robin’s father Larry was a mechanic who worked for Stelco in Hamilton. Robin too spent summers at Stelco during university, working his way up from sweeper to “pickle line hooker”. He never lost his affinity and respect for folks who punch a time-clock or make their living with their hands.
Robin came west when he was offered a scholarship to the military university at Royal Roads, Victoria. He tried it for a semester, but chose civilian life. He plunged into the vibrant social scene of the “Summer of Love” generation and never looked back. He saw as many concerts and films as possible – anyone who contested “Did you see (name a band) live?” with Robin was likely to lose.
Robin graduated from McMaster University with a B.A. (Hons) in Economics in 1972. After an ambitious trip to the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia that ended when the money ran out, he found work with various employers in Victoria and later Ottawa, including the National Energy Board. In 1975 he married Bonnie Dale Ehlers, who became an elementary school teacher and shared the adventures of Robin’s life for the next 23 years. In 1977 they spent seven months traveling in Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Sri Lanka and Greece. When they returned, Robin entered law school at UBC in Vancouver.
Robin graduated with his LL.B. in 1980, and chose to article in the Interior. He started with Alan Perry and Cindy Derkaz, and later Gary Brooke and Peter Robertson, all of whom became lifelong friends. He was called to the Bar and quickly became a partner in the firm that became Brooke Jackson Downs.
Robin had to teach himself many areas of litigation, and so he learned as he went. He was never afraid to tackle a complex case or an intimidating opponent. His work ethic was stellar, and he fought intelligently and negotiated fairly. Instead of specializing, Robin took on criminal, family and general litigation cases about almost everything: houseboats, contracts, houses, disputed wills, common-law property division, contaminated sites, investment fraud, and livestock. He had an insatiable curiosity, and he learned something from every case. He took particular delight in outworking and winning applications against expensive counsel who parachuted in from Vancouver and underestimated him as “just a country lawyer”. Robin qualified as a family and general mediator in 2003, and kept his mediation skills sharp even after his retirement. He served with the pro bono clinic in Salmon Arm, and remained a member of the West Coast Environmental Law group.
Robin and Bonnie traveled to Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in 1982, a rich and fragile ecosystem that captivated him. He treasured memories of swimming with seals off the Galapagos, and meeting ancient tortoises. Robin and Bonnie later took an entire year to travel throughout Africa, finishing in Europe, and returned home in the midst of the Fly to Ida fire in 1998. Robin quickly rejoined the Ranchero Deep Creek Fire Department, where he had served since 1987, despite the fact that his own house was threatened by airborne embers from Mt. Ida.
Robin was a dedicated environmentalist who believed that real change started with personal action and local projects. He was a life member and past director of SEAS starting in the 1980’s. He served on the CSRD OCP advisory group for Ranchero-Deep Creek from 2005-2009. He also found time for outings with the Shuswap Mountaineering Club from 1999 onward, numerous canoe and hiking trips, and the occasional hot springs tour.
Robin and Bonnie divorced, but remained friends. He married fellow lawyer Jan Crerar in 2002. They traveled to Cuba in 2003, and throughout BC and Alberta yearly. Robin worked steadily towards his retirement day which was December 31, 2006. Freed from law practice, Robin took lengthy journeys in the deserts of the USA in 2008, and Mexico/Copper Canyon/Baja in early 2009. He was planning a two-month expedition to Brazil that next winter, forestalled by a seizure that signaled the onset of terminal anaplastic astrocytoma.
Robin elected to fight the disease, which was checked by radiation treatments, but resumed its attack after proving resistant to chemotherapy. Throughout, he was comforted and cheered by innumerable visits from friends and family, and flooded with food, flowers, letters, cards and gifts from near and far. Not a day went by without a tangible offering to Robin’s household, health or morale. Robin was humbled and truly overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection from his family and friends. The Shuswap friends are literally too numerous to mention here, but to all of you: thank-you.
Extraordinarily, Robin’s former wife Bonnie Jackson stepped forward during the initial crisis, and became the staunchest ally he and Jan could ever have imagined. Bonnie put her own life on hold, never stopped asking “What can I do to help?”, and did her utmost to the very end of his journey. Bonnie chauffeured Robin to and from Kelowna, ransacked Askews for exotic fruit, read him his Economist magazines, cooked delicious and healthy recipes, and made sure he always had flowers even if she had to strip her own rose garden. Bonnie’s selfless devotion and patience inspired Robin’s other caregivers to give him their best.
Robin also leaves behind him his loving parents, Larry and Marjorie Jackson of Innisfail AB, brothers William (Kathy Sereda) of Bella Bella BC, and Ken of Ladysmith BC, sister Nancy (Ray Jackle) of Bowden AB, many beloved nieces and nephews, and extended family in Ontario and the Maritimes.
Robin’s family and Jan would like to sincerely thank Dr. R. Mosewich, neurologist; Dr. Chevalier, neurosurgeon; the BC Cancer Agency (Interior); Rotary Lodge in Kelowna; Dr. James Levins GP; Dr. Chris Main and nurse Cheryl Bawtree, chemo; the nurses and aides of Community Care; Lawrence and staff at Remedys; the ER doctors and nurses of SLGH; and the BC Ambulance crews who answered the 911 calls.
Robin specifically directed that there be no funeral or memorial service. However, anyone wishing to honour Robin’s memory is invited to make a contribution in his name to the Shuswap Community Foundation, to support local environmental projects.
Online condolence can be sent through Robin’s obituary at www.bowersfuneralservice.com