‘A good and decent man’

Published April 1, 1999

“My brother need not be idealized nor enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. He should be remembered simply as a good and decent man … ” Those were the opening lines of the funeral oration delivered at Robert Kennedy’s funeral more than 30 years ago and they serve just as well for our friend and brother, Robin Gibson. “My brother need not be idealized … ” No, he should not be. Robin did not have a sentimental or romantic notion of this word “partnership” we all use. He did not assume the supplicant posture of white liberal guilt, nor did he deny his privilege. He never lost touch with the reality he encountered. He accepted and was willing to probe the contra-dictions inherent in the partnership model. “He should not be enlarged in death beyond what he was in life.” Robin wasn’t necessarily a visionary but he did have a vision and that vision was profoundly ecumenical. I met Robin at the Canada-Asia Working Group table where he came as the Asia/Pacific representative for Primate’s Fund. Looking back more than 10 years, I can still see Robin eagerly jumping into the discussions, tossing out questions, probing the proposals and listening to his colleagues. It didn’t matter that the idea had emerged from one of the other denominations. Clearly, it would have been better if it was Anglican but it didn’t have to be.Robin had a vision of Canadian ecumenism. While some disagreed with the shape proposed, none opposed the vision. Robin firmly believed that the Canadian churches were simply more effective when we worked together. “He should be remembered simply as a good and decent man.” Daisy Francis is a member of the Canada Asia Working Group


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