bob everton (1952-2004)

got a call this morning that a close friend passed away last night from a heart attack.

bob everton was only 52 years old, his life spent as a radical and educator, he was a cornerstone of the vancouver activist community and i’m sure his death will impact people strongly, just as his life did.

i have spent the day crying and sleeping and will leave shortly to vancouver where there are people gathering to be with one another in the wake of this powerful life now gone.

there is a tremendous loss in my heart knowing that bob is no longer there as my friend and confidante, for he is someone who helped me through some of my darkest times, providing me with compassion and support and healing energy when my struggles were the greatest. many a bottle of wine we drank on the balcony of my last apartment in vancouver, watching the people go by as he promised me that revolution was just around the corner. bob had a way of making you believe in your work as an activist, and that we would all live to see societal transformation on a grand scale – it was only a matter of years.

he believed that for most of his life i suspect – and as far as i can tell he never wavered in the face of the brutality our system brought to bear on himself and others.

a conversation i had with him last year keeps coming back to me today because it brings me some comfort…. those of you who know bob, know that he was in chile during the 1973 coup by pinochet’s forces, and had been working there as a leftist activist for some time. as a result of his efforts, he was arrested and taken to one of the stadiums where leftist-sympathizers were being detained, interviewed and then shot (in one of the stadiums there was a wholesale massacre of thousands of people at one time – bob was in a different location than this). bob and his compatriots were held there for 10 long days, awaiting their fate which they were certain would be death – after an interview with the generals trying to get further information on people to round up from the frightened men and women of the social democratic movement.

at the end of the 10 days, marked by plots to escape and frightening treatment and threats, the canadian government intervened under some pressure from activists in the country and bob was allowed to leave the makeshift prison.

last year was the 30th anniversary of those events, and during that week bob came over to my house and we drank a bottle of wine while i asked him questions about what that had been like for him, how it was to walk free when so many people he know were murdered by the chilean fascists. what he told me then was this: (paraphrased)

“i never expected to walk out of that stadium alive, when they finally did release me i kept expecting to be shot on the street or re-arrested. because i never expected to live beyond those days, i have viewed every day since then as a gift – time to be spent in the struggle and in having a life worth living”

those thirty-one intervening years since bob was released from the chilean stadium were not only a gift of time for him – but for everyone who knew and worked with him over the years. his energy for organizing up until his last days was infinite and beyond his activism – he was a solid friend who was there for those who he loved.

i only got to know bob well in the last two years (though knew him peripherally for years before that) – and i feel very priveleged to have spent the time i had with him. i am still shocked that he is gone from my life, and the life of my community – and so sorrowful that i will never share a bottle of red wine and a talk with him again.

4 Comments on “bob everton (1952-2004)

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  2. I remember in the early 1980’s taking one of my first classes with Dallas Smythe at SFU. I was lucky to have Bob as one of my classmate. He said something to me that has stayed with me ever since and informed every decision I have ever made in my life…We are all basically looking for a sense of community. I am sure that he has touched many lives and left a strong mark, even if the contact was only for a brief time.

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