Celebrating Bobby

Robert Franklin Donohoe, 1955–2009. Robert was born on November 2, 1955 and passed away on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Robert was last known to be living in Merritt Island, Florida. 

I found that information online. Except for his ashes, stored at my sister’s house for the time being, that is almost all we have that remains of our brother Bobby. We know he had two daughters, but we’ve been unable to locate them. We do have lots of memories, though, and some stories we want to share. This blog is as good a place as any to begin.

Unlike our ancestors who wrote hundreds of letters in the 1800s, Bobby did not write much, if at all. Not that he couldn’t–just that he chose a different path, one that took him to the edges of society where he could be free and, for all practical purposes, invisible.

On occasion, however, he would surface, sliding into your driveway on his beatup old bicycle–his only mode of transportation. Then he would volunteer to cut your grass for a few bucks. He may even hang around for a few beers and some dinner. But soon he would be off again to his home on the move–wherever he could find a place to sleep. Under a bridge, in a tent by the river, on a friend’s porch, or at a cheezy motel when he had some steady work–it didn’t matter as long as he was not tied down.

“I like to travel light,” he told me the last time I saw him. That was at the memorial service for our brother Bill, in the fall of 2002. During the next seven years, he called once or twice. 

Thanks to Bobby’s friends in the Merritt Island area, I was able to talk with him three times during his last months. He sounded sick, but, for the most part, he sloughed it off. That was Bobby–a generous, funny guy who was dearly loved by many people.

Next Sunday at this time our family will gather in Charlottesville, Virginia, to remember and celebrate Bobby. Over the next week I hope to share some of the special things I remember about my youngest brother. Here’s to you, Bob.


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