15 of 30 speeches finished. Halfway through my 2012 stretch goal and only a few projects back from my Advanced Communicator Gold. Woot woot!
I'll include my speaking notes from the presentation tonight below:
I have been blessed by the presence of some amazing people in my life. When I joined Toastmasters I immediately became Vice President of Public Relations and I remember my first session of officer training (my 3rd meeting) quite well. I sat at a table with Fred Punko, John Baragar and Bob Larmour. And over the next couple hours I had my brain blown with the depth of experience and wisdom therein.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I’m here tonight to talk to you about my friend, Mr Toastmaster, Bob Larmour.
Let me try to describe Bob to you:
I heard him described once as “Ichabod Crane”. Bob was tall, gangly and old. He had worked as an electrical engineer for BC Hydro before retirement and was incredibly knowledgable. I remember walking into a Toastmasters meeting the first time I saw Bob - in a room full of people casually dressed in jeans he stood out in his black suit and tie. That metaphor always stuck with me. Bob was a suit in a room full of jeans.
When I knew him he was actively a member in five of the ten Toastmasters club in the city. He literally had a Toastmasters meeting to assist with every night of the week and cheerfully did so. He also was an active volunteer for the PG Symphony and used to billet for their travelling musicians.
Bob always had a word of support for a upcoming Toastmaster and believed in leading by example. I only started becoming a parliamentarian after watching Bob fill the role for a month and feeling guilty that no one else was stepping up. And you know what, I loved it. Roberts Rules of Order is still one of my favorite things in the world.
Bob’s approach of leading by doing is very much what I try to embody as a club president. I would rather not say a word to you about the importance of doing speeches but show you by my actions. I feel that Bob taught me that. Consistent attendance, passionate participation, always making time for other learners.
I remember my first night chairing - I had dreaded taking on chairing for so long. And I botched all sorts of things my first time out - I didn’t introduce guests, I forgot the meeting forms, I was clumsy during the business meeting. I had an unfortunate evaluation by the general evaluator. I think he felt that I was experienced Toastmaster and expected better of me. His evaluation felt like salt in the wound. I agonized over it - I literally couldn’t sleep that night. That night I questioned seriously whether I wanted to remain a Toastmaster. But the next day Bob took me aside and he made me a deal. For the next three weeks I chaired both the Prince George Toastmasters club and the College Heights Toastmasters clubs. Every week, without fail. And by the fourth or fifth time I actually felt fairly confident and I continued on my Toastmasters path.
I only knew Bob for such a tiny sliver of time - effectively my first year of the six I have spent in Toastmasters - but he still remains what I aspire to.
I want to share with you my last memory of Bob Larmour:
Bob had been under the weather for a couple weeks. He was working with Kerry Deschamps to get the College Heights Toastmasters club up and running. They were really struggling to find Toastmasters support. One night he couldn’t make it and I ended up, for example, chairing/table topics master/table topics evaluator/prepared speaker for five guests with myself the only Toastmaster. I suppose at this point I wouldn’t bat an eye at it but back then in my first year that was a major endeavour. So I wasn’t particularly worried when he called and asked for help in running the club for a week. He said to me, and I will always remember this, “Mike, I’ve got double vision right now”. I didn’t think too much of that - I wrote it off as an obscure expression meaning that he was tired. I remember telling him that I would take care of it and I thanked Bob for all the things that he’d helped me with over the last year. I didn’t realize this would be my last conversation with him - me thanking him for helping while he was more worried about the next group of learners.
We realized in a couple days that Bob was missing. In the end, they found him passed away in his basement, alone and unnoticed. His expression about double vision was a symptom of a massive stroke.
As the days turned into weeks turned into months turned into years, I still find myself missing Bob’s guidance and support. Whenever I get angry I remember his instructions to me about how we never tear down people in Toastmasters, but we build from within. We support, we nurture, we motivate. We add value. Toastmasters give back.
It seems some kind of cruel irony that a Toastmaster lacks the words to express himself, but I literally cannot explain what Bob has meant to me in my life. I will say only that I would count myself a success if I was half the man Bob was. I would count myself a success if I touched a single person the way that he affected me. To me he will always be Mr Toastmaster.