Obituary Robert Bruce Vorlich Bain

Robert Bruce Vorlich Bain, (OH 1967-1971), died 19th July 2009.

Eulogy to Bob. This tribute was written by Bob’s wife Cath, putting herself in the third person, in the aftermath of Bob’s death. It was read by Rev. Jim Reid (with a few amendments) at Bob’s funeral service at Kinghorn Church on Tuesday 5th August 2008.

Robert Bruce Vorlich Bain, known as Bob, the youngest child of Bill and Joyce Bain and brother to Bill and Finella, was born in Paignton, Devon in May 1954. Family friends of his parents recall “a joyous, happy, laughing baby” who “kept that spirit to the end”. Such childhood antics as attempting to ride a tricycle down stone steps led his vigilant mother to fear that she might be considered a neglectful parent. In reality he was cherished and well cared for.

Bob was schooled at Montpellier and Blundell’s in the south west of England. A friend from those days refers to his “quirky intelligence”, a description that will strike a chord with many who knew him.

Bob had some heady experiences backpacking through Europe during the ‘70s. The place that most entranced him was Dubrovnik - he had hoped to revisit with his family one day. He continued to land himself in scrapes. On one occasion he and a group of fellow travellers settled down on a railway line with a picnic, Bob having ascertained that no more passenger trains were due that day. The picnic was abruptly interrupted and hastily cleared as lights loomed in the distance – the possibility of a goods train had not entered his head.

Bob graduated from Imperial College in South Kensington, London with an upper second in Botany in 1976. His wife Cath (then an eighteen year old Fresher) vividly recalls an encounter with a highly distinctive twenty-year-old student sporting long fair hair, a scruffy denim jacket and an independent and carefree attitude. The long hair did not last but the jacket and independent outlook were both preserved. The carefree attitude was inevitably tempered by age and experience but was never completely lost.

Bob and Cath, still very much a couple of kids, married in 1977 just before Bob embarked on his doctorate at Stirling University. The couple subsequently had a brief sojourn in Surrey before settling in Fife. They lived in the same house in Kinghorn since November 1983 and the four children they have brought up here, Duncan, Fiona, Jennifer and Alistair, were the source of profound pleasure for Bob. One of the very last people to see Bob alive had just met him for the first time. She was struck by “a deeply gentle and loving man” who “spoke with warmth, enthusiasm and pride” about his family at some length.

Bob lectured at Napier University for almost twenty-five years. His cavalier attitude towards formalities caused raised eyebrows among colleagues on occasion, but his sense of responsibility and commitment towards his students as individuals ran well beyond the call of duty. Very recently he was full of enthusiasm as he developed a new course – he considered the necessity of teaching himself completely new skills an exciting challenge rather than a drawback.

Indeed, a thirst for new challenges never ceased to engage Bob. Innovative and ingenious schemes appealed to him most. DIY to Bob did not mean putting up a few shelves; it meant complete extensions designed and built from scratch with minimal assistance from professionals or indeed anyone else. Cath once returned from a ten-day stay in hospital with a badly injured toddler to find Bob on top of the roof carrying out Heath Robinson style repairs to a chimney. Though his wife did not appreciate it at the time, those who knew Bob well would realise that this was his idiosyncratic way of coping with his deep concern for his small child.

Fishing involved evening and sometimes night vigils on the banks of the River Earn near Crieff, yet his softhearted attitude towards his “earth born companions and fellow mortals” resulted in his returning his catch to the river.

Tending and developing the family garden absorbed him throughout the whole of his time in Kinghorn. This interest recently had a new lease of life with the purchase of some adjoining land, which now boasts a flourishing vegetable garden and a meadow, flowers from which have been incorporated into the floral tribute.

Socially Bob thrived on spontaneous gatherings with small groups of an eclectic range of friends. His ability to engage in stimulating and well-informed chat covering a huge range of interests coupled with a ready capacity for making people feel at ease resulted in his circle of friends effortlessly and continually rising.

Bob cared deeply for his family, phoning his parents in Crieff nearly every day and visiting frequently. Family holidays were enough fun for his children to elect to come along even as young adults. Sometimes a certain amount of role reversal took place. When his two eldest were still children they once demurred at the prospect of climbing into a fenced-off area.

“We can’t go there Dad, it says Danger,” said one.

“We can’t go there Dad, it says Private,” said the other.

But Bob, being Bob, led them on regardless.

On another occasion his youngest and a friend witnessed Bob falling fully dressed from a rope swing in the middle of nowhere into a pool below. He escaped with no more than a complete soaking.

Throughout thirty years of marriage Bob and Cath continued to find each other’s company stimulating and invigorating. The many interests they shared included history, archaeology and natural history, and both experienced great pleasure in exploring sea cliffs and the countryside, throughout Scotland, in Cath’s native county of Pembrokeshire and on holidays in Europe.

Bob elected to be christened and confirmed in the Church of England as a teenage schoolboy. As an adult he attended the Kirk at Kinghorn sporadically, but read from the Bible on a daily basis. He had a deep feeling of spirituality though he considered the precise nature of his views very much a private matter.

Cath and the rest of the family have been greatly touched by the many and varied gestures of kindness they have received. One friend wrote of grappling to express her feelings about Bob’s death. She succeeded better than she realised and her words have been chosen to close this eulogy: -

“The world seemed a better place with him in it and seems a worse place without”.