Sadly, Robert (Bob) Wroblewsky passed on Nov. 6, 2022, his 75th birthday. He was at home in Sandy Lake, with his wife, Cathy. Complications from surgery on his spinal cord, due to injury, made the end of his life very difficult, yet he commented the day before, “I’m happy”.
At 12 years of age Bob bought his first transistor radio with money he’d earned from selling bottles he had collected in ditches. For the rest of his life he enjoyed the fifties music he listened to on that radio.
Bob farmed with his parents and brother, near Brunkild, from a young age. In 1966 he bought land from his paternal grandmother’s estate. Working for Monarchware and Furnaceman in the winters, doing road work, and later driving a school bus for the Red River Valley School Division, helped him get through some tough farming years.
In 1969 Bob’s brother, Ron, bought Sperling Garage where, together, they did repairs, sold Triumph and Yamaha motorcycles and Rupp snowmobiles, while continuing farming.
In 1977 Bob married Cathy Worms, originally from Graysville. From the beginning they shared a love of music, whether it was the owner of Haynes Chicken Shack in Winnipeg playing the piano while they dined, or, The Platters performing at The Town ’n' Country, also in Winnipeg, or watching The Sound of Music on television, every time it was on. Over the years, they had many good times while travelling, camping and hiking.
In 1978 Bob sold the land and started Sperling Autobody, in Sperling, to where they eventually moved. Painting, repairing, restoring and embellishing vehicles became both his work and his hobby. For the rest of his life, he got satisfaction from sourcing and suggesting vehicles for friends and family. Bob also began driving the school bus again, this time for the Prairie Rose School Division.
Bob joined the Sperling Community Club and the Sperling Volunteer Fire Dept. He enjoyed the training involved with the Fire Dept., attending the various conferences associated with the role, and felt honoured in his 5 year term as fire chief.
Because Bob became sensitive to the paint he was using, he sold the shop in 1994. However, in no time he bought a building in which he could work on vehicles like the backhoe he’d purchased. Bob could not be without a shop of some kind. He also worked for 2 farmers for a while before he began driving truck for L.P. Enterprises.
Bob and Cathy moved to a farm property in Horod in 2002 so that they could live in the Parkland area and be near Riding Mountain National Park. Here, with some improvements they made, was a very pleasant shop that Bob greatly enjoyed working in. He continued to drive truck for Penner Oil in Manitoba and Saskatchewan but was happiest on off days working in the shop.
In 2003 Bob became paraplegic after an accident with the semi he drove. They bought a house in Sandy Lake and had it adapted to his needs. Bob began to drive with hand controls in his modified van. He set up shop again, at least to some degree, in the garage. He soon became a regular at the coffee shop, as he had been in Sperling. He was invited to join the Sandy Lake Town Committee, and volunteered for the Lions Club and Communities in Bloom where he was able. For about 10 years he dispatched for the Sandy Lake Handivan.
Bob enjoyed variety in vehicles and machines. On eBay he found a Chariot into which he could wheel his chair and drive. Of course it had to be repainted and adorned. This, for the most part, he did himself. He was pleased with his new toy which filled in for the motorcycling, dirt biking and snowmobiling he’d done in his previous life. He worked on models in his basement workshop, often modifying and painting them to be small replicas of vehicles he’d owned, including distinctive tow trucks and the semi he’d driven.
Bob switched to paint-by-numbers when he could no longer complete models with satisfaction. He would listen endlessly to music on YouTube while he painted, reading in between, while paint dried. He enjoyed giving away many of these paintings.
By 2010 Bob lost most of the use of his left hand. He was finding the Chariot difficult to operate, so he sold it and bought a similar machine, again on eBay. It had a Yamaha motor so he named it the Yamahauler. As usual, it must be repainted and decorated with stickers, (including the Tasmanian devil), which, this time he needed more help with. Bob had fun with it, calling it his chick magnet. His last ride in it was in 2014 with his friend Dave on motorcycle.
His left arm which had compensated a lot for his left hand, could no longer manage the hand controls in the van and soon he was unable to drive. In 2017 Bob began having trouble using his right hand. He tried working on puzzles for a while, and persevered as long as possible in the reading of actual books.
In 2018 he lost entire use of his right hand and arm. He was still able to read with a “PageFlip” but soon switched to Audible Books which were a godsend for him. He could no longer navigate the laptop on his own, but with help continued to follow favourites on YouTube.
“Alexa” was another solution for him, enabling him to answer the phone, make calls, listen to radio shows like Swap and Shop, and of course, listen to an enormous variety of music. Bob enjoyed singing along. He had a lifelong talent for remembering lyrics. Singing was his physical exercise. Discomfort and pain in his head was a constant in the last years, but it was a rare day that he wasn’t singing or humming.
Bob had a natural happiness inside him— or at least a contentment— almost regardless of circumstances. Nothing got him down for long. His gift for rising above challenges was practiced many times. His sense of humour could be extreme, but he loved the laughs.
Bob wasn’t perfect and probably quite ordinary, but in kind of an extraordinary way. He will be missed so very much.
Bob was predeceased by his parents, Elsie and Fred Wroblewsky; his parents in-law, Anna and John Worms; stepmother-in-law, Anne; his brother-in-law, Stan Cross, and his sister-in-law, Connie Worms. He is survived by his older brother, Ron Wroblewsky of Anola; his siblings-in-law, Iris Cross of Griswold; Sharon and John Warms of Fairford; Mary and Charles Worms of Bemidji; Sharalee and Terry Worms of Darlingford. He is also survived by his nieces, Bev (Cross) Holloway (Andrew), Jack and Janie, Mepunga, Australia; Marion (Cross) Irsa (Bill), Wyatt, Calgary; Cheryl (Warms) Cook, Tyrell and Jazzy, Winnipeg; Jami Worms, Darlingford; and nephews, Zach Worms (Jen), Boden, Addie, Judson, Sadie and Mabel, Altona; Jason Warms, Breanna, Brandi, Trevor and Brooklyn, Winnipeg; Myron Warms (Ginger), Breena, Mia and Mason, Fairford. He is also survived by very good friends.
Over the years, we have received incredible support and excellent help of all sorts. Heartfelt thanks to family members, friends near and far, the Sandy Lake Drop In Center, the entire Sandy Lake Community, HomeCare nurses over the years, the Palliative Care Program nurses, local nurses, retired or otherwise who were there for him. Special thanks also to Rae’s Funeral Home.
Private family celebrations of life will take place. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Spinal Cord Injury Manitoba, Inc, 211-825 Sherbrook St., Winnipeg, MB, R3A 1M5, 204-786-4753; Sandy Lake Fire Dept., Box 321, Sandy Lake, MB, R0J 1X0, 204-585-5344; R.M. of Morris Fire Dept. (Sperling Hall), Box 518, Morris, MB R0G 1K0, 204-746-7300.
Spinal Cord Injury Manitoba Inc.
211-825 Sherbrook St, Winnipeg MB R3A 1M5
Sandy Lake Fire Hall
302 Railway Avenue East, Sandy Lake MB R0J 1X0
R.M. of Morris Fire Dept. (Sperling Hall)
Box 518, Morris MB R0G 1K0