Image by Chris Liverani

ROBERT KOBLANSKI

ROBERT (BOB) KOBLANSKI

November 3, 1938 – December 27, 2020

Bob Koblanski passed away peacefully on December 27, 2020 with family by his side.

 

Bob was predeceased by his father and mother Alex and Emily; siblings Anne, Bill, Rose and Nell; and mother-in-law Irene Mlodzinski (Ma Mere).

 

Bob leaves to mourn his loving wife of 60 years Maureen; brother Allan; children Kristen Lynch (Gerry), Colin, Joel (Glenda), Dale (Chad) and Jamie (Audrey); grandchildren Riley, Riel, Marina and Kara; great grandchildren Connor, Derek and Reya; and brothers and sisters in-law Lynda Pisa (Frank), Charlie Sciberras, Norman Bukoski (Barb) and Dianne Frost (Brian).

 

Born in East Elmwood, at an early age ‘Bobby’ was never interested in school, but had plenty of time for hockey and cars. One patient teacher even tried to keep him in class by bringing in hot rod magazines. It worked for a short time, but his attention was drawn back out of the classroom to the rink.

 

By his teens, Bob was already an excellent hockey player, playing first for the Winnipeg Monarchs, then the Winnipeg Junior Rangers. He was called up to the pros by the New York Rangers twice, but ultimately chose to remain home in Winnipeg. As a player Bob was a fast and talented skater and a top scorer who played many positions well. Once his family was established, in his 30s and 40s, he returned to play forward on the Melrose Eagles (aka the ‘Whispering Doves’) in the Winnipeg old timer’s league, contributing to their high standing in the city, as well as on their many successful tournament trips to the U.S. and across Canada. Bob was a great teammate on and off the ice.

 

Always a hard worker, in his early teens he delivered groceries, and began driving around the same time. He was a natural, self-taught mechanic and got a job at Purvis Motors where he was introduced to the VW Beetle and his lifelong infatuation with Volkswagen began.

 

Bob also met Maureen when they were in their early teens and he was instantly smitten. As with all things that drew his interest, Bob was persistent and eventually they began dating. They were married in 1960 at St. Alphonsus Church and renewed their vows there in 1985 on their 25th anniversary with their five children, and close family and friends present.

 

In the 70s Bob joined the service department at Auto Haus, moved into sales, then co-owned Gran Turismo Motors on Nairn Avenue before returning to Auto Haus where he worked in sales until he retired in 2013. Bob wasn’t a typical car salesman. He was truly excited to put people into cars that they loved. He supported his customers, developed friendships with them, dropped off and picked up vehicles from their homes (on call at all hours of the day, nights or weekends) and helped put their children into their first cars. Known affectionately by his nickname ‘Beetle Bob’, he developed longstanding connections with his customers and their families, some of whom he served for generations. Upon his retirement, Bob was recognized as one of the all-time leaders in North America in VW sales.

 

Bob was always very close to his sister Rose and her husband Charlie Sciberras. As his parents had passed away fairly young, they became his surrogate parents and the Koblanski and Sciberras clans spent weekends and vacations camping, often celebrating together over the holidays.

 

Bob’s love of children extended beyond his own and children naturally gravitated to him. His smile, twinkling blue eyes and generosity extended to many, but he had a special place in his heart for his nieces and nephews including Don, Paul and Peter Sciberras, Linda and Randy Mitchell, Richard Paul, Rick and Vicki Tugwell, Ronnie Ford, Diane Koblansky, Jerry Alan Frost, Marlo Jeffery, Kellea Small, Justyn Pisa, Lisa, Michaela and Taylor Bukoski.

 

Bob especially enjoyed perogies, as well as his wife’s special recipes for coleslaw and apple pie (carefully supervising just how much sugar and cinnamon she added). Never a drinker or gambler, Bob was passionate about playing and checking his lottery numbers, while also pursuing his other favourite hobby – running errands. He often went to car shows, and collected car magazines, signs and toys.

 

Always busy, Bob awoke each morning with a mission – a list of tasks or new project to take care of, and whether it was building a shed or a rec-room, fixing things around the house or in the garage, grocery shopping or just dropping something off at a friend’s, Bob did everything fast.

 

It was a bit of a surprise to everyone when, at 70 years of age, Bob adopted and became instantly inseparable with his beloved toy poodle Dino and later, teacup poodle #2 Seamus. Dino joined him in his car, on the back of a bicycle that Bob modified to fit him, and even on a motorized scooter for a time. He took both pups on his daily rounds, visiting stores, dealerships and the tellers at the Belgian and Cambrian Credit Unions. Almost as fun was regaling anyone he met with his poodle stories – what they’d had for dinner, where he’d taken them that week, and all of their latest antics.

 

With Bob it was always a good time for a drive. In the summers Bob and Maureen went on camping trips with the kids to Rushing River, B.C, California, and South Dakota’s Black Hills. He loved nothing more than a quick trip to Lockport or Selkirk for dinner, a drive to look at the Christmas lights, or a jaunt out to Minnedosa or Calgary to visit his sons and their families. In the late 90s he and Maureen began making their way South across the U.S. to spend a few months wintering in Mesa Arizona, and he looked forward all year to the drive down and back home.

 

Bob made many lifelong friends in the car industry that he kept in touch with, often meeting for coffee: Helmut Schmidtke, Keith Bell, Kenny Lubinski, Jim Reimer, and James and the boys at Giardino Auto, were among his closest.

 

Bob also loved to help out, talk hockey, give rides, chat on the phone, share holiday meals and generally stay connected with his wide circle of extended family and friends – Betty Dall, Susan McVarish, Dan Stepko, Rod Lewandowski , Brian Morrison, Ed Drachenberg, Carol and Phil Allison, Bev and Dan Demoline, Brent Blain, Ken and Fran Taylor, Dave and Elinor Sklar, Jeanette Kirby – and more recently Gerry Blowatt and Kari Goodall – to name just a few… (forgive us if we missed any of you).

 

Never a loud man, in character and personality Bob was larger than life. Whether it was because of his lifelong practice of performing small acts of kindness, or his gentle nature - wherever Bob went he made a lasting impression on people. Many benefitted from his gifts of groceries, yard work, repairs, or small loans of cash when things weren’t going well. He donated winter clothing, food and pet supplies to individuals, children and organizations around Winnipeg. Still others joined him on random trips for ice cream, to hockey games, or received rides to/from work or important appointments at any hour of the day or night. No matter how busy, or how hard he worked, he always had the energy and made the time to help others, putting everyone ahead of himself.

 

Bob will forever be remembered as a kind, generous, sweet and thoughtful man who was quick with a smile or kind word, and before it became fashionable, a warm hug.

 

Bob’s family especially wishes to thank the nurses, doctors and staff of both Concordia Hospital, and St. Boniface Hospital for their care and treatment over these many years, right up until his recent passing. Thank you for treating our dear Bob (and us) with such kindness and compassion.

 

Thank you also to those who kept up our vigil with him as he battled and finally succumbed to bacterial pneumonia over these past few weeks. Please know that you were all on his mind (and mentioned in the many little notes he left behind) during his brief, final stay at St. B.

 

Bob, we wish you love and light, peace, and a well-deserved rest. You’re our heart and our soul, our inspiration to be better, and the essence of what’s good in all of us. We will never, ever forget you Papa, you will be with us every second of every day.

 

Cremation has taken place, and there will be no funeral (at this time). Bob's family kindly requests that all of his friends and relatives take a few minutes to honour his memory by watching the photo-biography above. They also encourage the sharing of photos, memories, and stories by making use of the comment section on this page.

 

Gifts in lieu of flowers may be made in Bob’s name to the Agape Table, or Concordia Hospital Foundation.

ETHICAL DEATH CARE

Cremation & Life Celebrations

530 St, Mary Avenue - Winnipeg

204-421-5501 - www.ethicaldeathcare.com

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