Sunday, July 10, 2011

RIP Uncle Roly

I just got the news that my uncle Roly passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 104. Yes, over 100 years on this earth.

Roly was not only my uncle, but a really special man to me. Some of the important firsts came to me via Roly.

His life was pretty interesting and I'd say he was the first "techie" I ever knew. His ham radio license was an old one, and it always struck me that it was VE7 RT ... Roland Tufnali, his initials. He had big antennas at his house.

I've heard the stories about his early days working for United Airlines. He sold you your ticket, took your bags to the plane, and guided the plane leaving the runway, yes, everything but flying the thing.

When I was young my parents weren't much in to sports. They were, and still are, wonderful parents, but my interest in sports was often shared with Roly when we visited his home. One day he took me to my first ever professional event. I saw the Vancouver Mounties baseball team play. The stadium, the green field, the lights, the crowd ... things I will never forget.

Once Roly had been away some place and he brought me back a gift. It was a two transistor radio. Two transistors! I listened to that every night. Baseball, boxing, and and introduction the "Burns Hotline" talk radio. I think that was one of the reasons I dabbled with UBC radio when I went there.

Another time, Roly brought me my first electronic calculator. No more slide rule for me. My math, okay arithmetic, skills were excellent, but I loved using that calculator.

Roly had the first television set I ever saw. He had it in the late 1940s, before I was born. In his attic and connected to some amazing aerials, I heard about how the neighbours used to come over to watch. I think the Indian Test Pattern was quite fun to see. Another first for me to see was the home computer he had, a Radio Shack model that used tapes. He would spend hours programming it and I had some fun with it as well. I remembering him making the challenge to me to write a program to calculate the third side length of a triangle if you knew the other two sides. That impossible puzzle kept me busy for some time.

Roly and his wife Muriel, who is very much alive today in her 90s, had a beautiful cottage in Boundary Bay, Point Roberts, WA. I can't count the number of special memories there... learning to swim, Ben's Store, Metcalfes, my cousins Wendy and Janice, and many more. Annual family picnics have been held there for years. Roly was quite inventive with things he did at the cottage too.

He was in the same home as my dad and while I don't get enough time to make the trip there, I did try to say hi and talk to him when I visited dad. In the past 6 months or so, the communication was pretty much one sided, but he always seemed to have a bit of a twinkle in his eye when we met up.

I'll most certainly miss "my favourite uncle" Roly.


Seaotter said...

Love your memories, Bob.

~Chelsea~ said...

Beautiful, Dad.

Anne Davis said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your Uncle Roly.

Anonymous said...

Such wonderful memories - I'm glad you felt moved to share...


M Coleman said...

Enjoyed reading about your long-living and special uncle - sounds like you resemble quite a bit with your math and technology interests! :) My thoughts are with you - I know you will treasure his legacy.

Diane Hammond said...

What a lovely tribute to a man who appears to have lived life fully! Keep him alive in the stories you pass on to your grandchildren.

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