My Friend Bob: A Personal Tribute
Cambridge, ON — Bob Magloughlen died yesterday afternoon. He was one of the good guys, as many have called him in the e-mail trail that started forming since some of us learned the awful news Thursday evening. It appears to have been a heart attack that felled him, during a meeting at Challenger Motor Freight. By all accounts he was gone before the ambulance reached the hospital.
A proper obituary will follow but for now I want to make this announcement personal. It matters that we announce Bob's passing this way rather than by means of a series of bare historical facts about the life he lived. He was never one for ceremony, and in fact Bob's wife Rosemary has decided there will be no funeral. That seems appropriate to me, but there will definitely be a celebration at some point soon. That's also appropriate, and it will inevitably hold much laughter as people tell tales about the time Bob did this or did that. There will be no shortage of stories.
Larger than life at times, with a roaring laugh even bigger than that, Bob was a friend of mine. A good friend, over all the years since I first entered this trucking game back in the late 1970s. I'd go so far as to call him one of my mentors as well as a chum. I'll miss his beaming smile and his utterly endless capacity for laughter. Not to mention his huge warehouse of truck knowledge.
In latter years Bob was a consultant to Dan Einwechter, president and CEO at Challenger, using his broad experience to dispose of the trucks that had reached the end of their first life in the fleet. Bob's extensive international expertise led to sales in places as far from home as Libya and Russia. Many were retailed locally by his friend and business partner Doug Watt of Next Truck Sales in Breslau, ON.
A mechanic by training, Bob first entered my world in a previous magazine life. He was then national service manager for Cummins, so I got him to write an 'ask the expert' sort of mechanical advice column in Canadian Driver/Owner, answering questions posed by readers. I soon realized that he loved to be a champion for the little guy, that he liked nothing more than resolving an owner-operator's truck or engine issues. I learned and learned again in the process.
For many years he showed that same trait in his work as vice president at Western Star and later in running a Volvo dealership in Waterloo.
I could write that Bob didn't suffer fools gladly, as that old cliché has it, but the fact is that he wouldn't suffer fools at all. Few people are as direct as Bob was, even fewer less afraid to speak their mind in situations where forthrightness might not be entirely normal or expected. It would be impossible to count how many people had suffered his wrath and gone away with tail between legs after trying to pull one over on him -- an essentially impossible task -- or in some other way being an idiot. Bob could topple the mighty with one swath of well chosen words strongly delivered.
At the same time he had a heart of pure gold, and if you were his friend he had an infinite number of ways to show it. Loyal to a fault, he would defend you and promote you and take pleasure in doing it. I'm nowhere near alone in being on the receiving end of Bob's generous spirit.
As one commenter put it in that e-mail trail I mentioned earlier, a man who knew Bob well, "with Bob's passing I think it's safe to say that a part of our lives just became a little less fun."
I'll miss you, Bob Magloughlen. And thanks for everything. — Rolf Lockwood
I invite you to comment on this article in the space below, or send me your own favorite Mr. Bob tale directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.