Eulogy for Bob Carson on behalf of the New Zealand Carsons
Over the past few days one has been able to read through Facebook and the various articles published about Bob that he has the respect of so many, and his nature as such has given so many much pleasure and reward in knowing him. This is no better illustrated in his love and devotion to his family.
Here in New Zealand we had an added advantage in that there was a part of Bob that was part of his Jigsaw which was uncompleted and that was his family heritage which the foundations lay in New Zealand.
To understand his situation, it all began when his father Arthur, who at the age of 22 left New Zealand and his Father, Mother, 3 brothers and sister, on his overseas adventure, to never return. The only person he did meet again was his sister Alison, who visited the family in 1953.
Bob and Bill’s father was also a man who cared greatly for his family, and although things were tough for him and he could not return home, was a good communicator and wrote often to his family back in New Zealand, and they in turn replied on a regular basis. Fortunately for Bob, this correspondence was not discarded and that recorded history became a valued source of family history to Bob and to his cousins in New Zealand.
When Bob’s mother died the contacts were lost for many years and it was not until 1998 when my brother, the eldest of our generation, visited Canada and through his investigations there, made contact with Bob and Ann. That was the beginning of a wonderful period of time for Bob and his family, and his 5 first cousins in New Zealand and their families, but more importantly my family and me.
It was soon to prove that Bob and I had a lot in common as we would find out over the next 13 years, as I had obtained the Carson scrap books and letters that the family wrote to their Mother in particular. We were very fortunate to visit Canada and stay with Bob and Ann on 2 occasions and experience Bob and Ann’s generosity, and we have very fond memories of those visits, by getting to know their family, Rob, David and Dan, plus Dean and Corrine and one cannot forget Mr Barkley and Ann’s dog Benjy. I record such experiences as;
- Staying in the Carson family home in Orillia.
- Visiting the cottage on a number of occasions and sitting under the octagon roof lounge which Bob was so proud of having built, and sitting outside around an open fire reminiscing and looking at the stars in the northern sky.
- Visiting the funeral homes in Orillia and Midland which were part of Bob’s success story.
- Cruising the 30,000 islands and going through the canals in their launch.
- Visiting Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Quebec and the many beautiful lakes, towns and resorts which gave my wife and me a greater appreciation of Canada.
- To attend Bob’s 65 birthday at the Cottage, and his surprise 70th.
- Visiting Bill and Linda (Bob’s brother) and spending a night with them in Hamilton
- But the most important thing was getting to know Bob and Ann and their family.
One should also mention the Alaskan Cruise that we took in 2011 soon after his 70th birthday which we all enjoyed. We were planning our second cruise together along the Rhine later this year or next.
I am pleased that my daughter Belinda has also had the opportunity to stay with Bob and Ann on 2 occasions, the first time to experience a Canadian Easter, and the second a true Canadian “Carson” Christmas which she will never forget. To sit before an open fire with Bob’s family and friends, when she is used to sitting in the hot sun.
My wife and I had the pleasure of having Bob and Ann stay with us on 2 occasions in our family home in Auckland, plus Rob, David and Dan. On their first visit, a Carson reunion was held on John Carson’s Kiwi Fruit orchard, and this gave Bob the opportunity to meet all his cousins and their families, plus the sole surviving member of his father’s generation. This function filled many missing parts of his family Jigsaw.
It was from this gathering that Bob became a friend to so many first, second and third cousins as one can see through his “Facebook friends” and they have continued to remain in contact until his death. Bob spent many hours looking through the old photo albums and scrap books. During their first visit they toured New Zealand, which happened to be the wettest January on record for New Zealand, but that did not stop them, and one of the Cities they visited was Dunedin, the home town of our Great Grandfather, but also where his father Arthur and my father Charles were born. More of his Jigsaw was completed here through his investigations.
March 2013 was Bob and Ann’s last visit down under, and on this occasion they were accompanied by Dan. Although there were many memorable moments, the most rewarding was our trip to Gisborne. Gisborne is the City where our Father’s spent their younger years, and was recognised as their hometown. Our Grandfather, “Captain Alexander Carson” was the Harbour Master and during his term of office, oversaw the development of the Gisborne harbour so the Carson family was a well respected family in the community. Our visit was an important one for Bob as well as myself as we;
- Overlooked Gisborne and the Harbour in particular from this well known hill called Kaiti and could see for ourselves what our Grandfather had achieved.
- Visiting the Carson family home and the back yard which meant so much to the 4 brothers.
- The Carson plot at the cemetery.
- For Bob and Dan to swim in the sea off Waikanae Beach where his father swam daily.
- The Gisborne Boy’s High School where our fathers attended. This was a highlight for both of us, as we took the opportunity to returned a gold pen that was presented to William (Bill) Carson by the school prior to his tour with the New Zealand Cricket team in 1937. The Head Master of the school called a full assembly and both Bob and I were introduced to the entire school where we made the presentation, but they in return made presentations to us. This was followed by a 4 hour tour of the school, where we saw old school photos of our Fathers, shown the class rooms that Bob’s father learnt his woodworking and engineering skills, and lastly to be shown copies of their yearly reports dating back to 1915 to 1920.
Bob‘s family jigsaw was now complete, and our family are proud to have had that opportunity of contributing and being a part of Bob’s life, in his search of our families history.
This is just a small snapshot of what became a cherished relationship, not only between Bob and myself, but between wives and our families who now share our memories together, and for his extended family in New Zealand who, like us, are far better off having known him and his friendships that he bestowed on us.
Bob and I also share another common interest, and that we are both Freemasons. Their are 3 fundamentals principles of freemasonry, Brotherly love, Relief and Truth.
Brotherly love, to respect and understand your fellow brethren,
Relief, to support him in his time of need.
Truth, be honest with one’s self and to others as you would expect of them.
I am sure that these principles would typify Bob, not only to our Brother-hood but to all his friends and family.
Robert James Carson was a great man, and a person who we loved and respected and will be missed by so many of his New Zealand family but will not be forgotten.
Bob, rest in peace, you have done well.