This article catches some fleeting glimpses into the life and times of Bob Won, who passed away at the age of 59 years in Calgary from cancer of the pancreas.
Bob was an unpretentious person, who just epitomizes how "nice guys finish first" - a person from very humble beginnings who worked hard and earned respect within the community, loved people, and enjoyed a wonderful family. In his honour, the CSEG has set up and is administering the Robert J. Won Memorial Scholarship. The CSEG is matching funds with donations from private and corporate sponsors.
Bob was born in Cranbrook, B.C. on August 12, 1939, the middle son of a Chinese immigrant market gardener. As a youngster, Bob helped out in the family business. He was a bright student, an excellent athlete, and well-liked by his peers in school. His mother passed away early, and Bob helped bring up his younger brother and sister on the farm near Cranbrook. His athletic ability showed early. Bob played basketball, baseball, was an excellent boxer, and track and field participant. At the age of sixteen, he even won a Steer Riding trophy! (No wonder Bob looked good in a cowboy hat!)
Wealth was not in the picture, so when Bob graduated from high school, he went to work first as a logger, then for several years on a CPR crew. In 1960, he entered geology studies at the University of British Columbia, but ran out of funds, so he returned home to work. He returned to UBC the following year to continue his studies.
Upon graduation from UBC in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Geophysics, Bob was hired by Chevron in the U.S., and moved to Bakersfield, California. But when a transfer to Louisiana came up, he left Chevron, and moved to Calgary to be with his friends. Bob got a job with ARCO, where he later met his future wife, Karen, whom he married in 1974.
Skiing seemed to be the thing to do in those days, but Bob was not much of a skier. So he took two weeks of vacation one winter, got a book, and went to Norquay. He skied a bit, read how to do the next thing, skied some more, read some more, and so on...came home an accomplished skier. That is how Bob did many things. He was a master mechanic at sports...all he needed to do was to read how to do it, then go do it. The Ski Spree held each February has seen Bob, Karen, and their two sons, Christopher and Michael (especially Michael!) on the podium receiving medals (mostly gold) for the ski races. The Won family have been long-time supporters of the CSEG Ski Spree and although Bob's smile will be missed, we hope Karen and Michael will continue to attend. Christopher can't attend this year, as he's away at school...the University of Waterloo, Computer Engineering...on the Dean's List several times.
Bob worked for several oil and gas companies over the years, (Petro-Canada, Francana, Sceptre, and Canada Northwest Energy) and he was a Chief Geophysicist. He even got laid off ("if you've never been laid off in the oil & gas business, you've never lived..."), His last employer was Canor Energy, where he was again well respected both for his professional ability and his personal attributes. Bob was a careful, smart professional geophysicist, who was known for his ability to maintain an "even keel" in all situations.
Socially, Bob & Karen supported the CSEG functions regularly. Bob was an accomplished curler and golfer, (as is Karen) and his list of trophies from the Doodlespiel is long. At the Doodlebug, Bob won a "ceramic" (Flight Winner) plus the "Low Net" Trophy and became a "regular" in the low-handicap flights in the tournament. In addition, he did a stint on the Doodlebug Committee. Costumes at the Doodlebug were a favourite of the Won's...do you remember the famous (gigolo??) Roberto Juan? Bob was very competitive in sports, but never let the desire to win outshadow the need to be a good sport and a friendly competitor. He was the anchorman in the small, but moderately famous "Lucy International, Invitational Team Golf Championship" which he and his (slug-golfer) partner won ten of the twelve years it has been in existence! A tribute not only to his ability as a golfer, but his willingness to playa sport (golf, in this case) with people far below his ability, yet compete in a friendly, unruffled manner. Those of you who golf well must know how frustrating it can be when both your partner and opponents can't hardly get off the tee box, with a couple of foursomes backed up behind you....Bob never got concerned, because that's just the type of person he was.
Shortly before his death, a friend (also with cancer) wondered out loud to Bob whether they had been "dealt a bit of a bad hand". Bob's reply was no. He was pretty thankful that he'd gotten to where he was in life, that the'd lived a good life, had a wonderful family and a lot of friends. In another conversation at that time with the author, when asked if there was anything special he'd like to leave with us, he replied that he'd always tried to treat people the way he'd like to be treated...Well, he surely did a good job of that, because the tributes to Bob are overwhelming. At the 27th Annual Doodlespiel in late January, we all raised a toast to "Captain Bob"...a nice guy who finished first...and will be lovingly remembered by all who knew him. May God bless you, Bob, our friend.
When the future recipients of the Robert J. Won Memorial Scholarship receive their scholarship, we hope they will get a feeling about the character of Mr. Bob Won. Should anyone wish to contribute to this scholarship fund, personally or corporately, please contact Heather at the CSEG office. An income tax receipt will be mailed to you.