Having known Uncle Bob since my early teens, he has always been a big part of my life. He, with the late Livy Wijemanne and Vernon Corea, from the then Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation, were always most welcome guests at our parental home. Whenever they covered an event in Kandy we always had a seat from a vantage point to view the Perahera or a front row seat at a concert. I was even persuaded by them, at 14, to participate in the first Maliban Talent Quest, which they brought up to the hills - an experience I quite surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying, once I got over the shock of standing before a mike in front of a hundred faces!
It was Uncle Bob, who to my delight, invited me to join them for the Jetliners first anniversary dance at the Coconut Grove, and that was when I first met his family. That, sort of cemented a lifelong friendship which has lasted to this day. Their home was home to me when I began work in Colombo. He loved having the family around him, and was never happier than bringing home a huge sack of mangoes which he proceeded to cut and feed to all of us around the table, including their pet Weimaraner ! He was perhaps the most popular compere of that era, and I was their guest at every dance Uncle Bob compered!
Bob Harvie was the toast of the sports world, when it came to the art of commentary! Apart from his impeccable diction and use of the appropriate and accurate facts, names and terminology ~ which he was an absolute stickler for - Uncle Bob was able to bring any event vividly alive to listeners island wide, and even in the sub-continent if I remember right, in those days when TV did not exist. His almost magical word-wizardry would encapsulate in his own inimitable style, all the excitement of a crucial rugby encounter, magnificent Independence parade, nail-biting motor sports event, beauty pageant or black tie dinner-dance. I think I can safely say, the likes of him has never been matched …
Aunty Dolly was the ‘wind beneath his wings’ and has been with him through thick and thin - the worst being the loss of Alexis, their son, which needless to say - took its toll. They continued to live a quiet life in reasonably good health, by the Grace of God, and although she will sorely miss his presence, she will always have the consolation of having been there for him all his life. He adored Sharon, his little girl, who was his pride and joy! I think he never really wanted her to grow up!
Though with time constraints and the accelerated pace of life, our meetings were not all that frequent, not a birthday passed by without a call and a visit every now and again, which we felt was so much appreciated. Uncle Bob also had a great fondness for my husband, Daya, with whom he would love to share old stories of the time when they both worked for the Upali Group - Daya had initially introduced him to Upali Wijewardene.
…and then last week with dignity, as he had lived, Uncle Bob made a quiet exit from this world. [Thank you Aunty Dolly, for giving me the chance to say ‘goodbye’]. I am grateful that my life was enriched by knowing him and for all that I learned from him. May he rest in peace, in the knowledge that those who loved him in life will continue to do so, as the fragrance of his memory lingers on in our hearts. - Sriani de Silva