Heart of Gold

Bench Dedicated In Memory of Dr. Tony Robertson

by Sophia Wasylinko | 09.29.22 | In Focus, News

There is a new bench outside the Education and Social Sciences building on the VIU Nanaimo campus. On it is a plaque that reads: “In memory of Dr. Tony Robertson. Well-loved and respected professor, teacher, and friend.” The bench was officially dedicated on Friday, September 23, in memory of Dr. Tony Robertson, who passed away […]
Dr. Tony Robertson, an older man with grey hair and beard, sits with his guitar.

There is a new bench outside the Education and Social Sciences building on the VIU Nanaimo campus. On it is a plaque that reads: “In memory of Dr. Tony Robertson. Well-loved and respected professor, teacher, and friend.”

The bench was officially dedicated on Friday, September 23, in memory of Dr. Tony Robertson, who passed away suddenly on June 28, 2021 at the age of 71.

Robertson taught in the Department of Psychology at Vancouver Island University for over 30 years. Like the plaque says, he impacted countless lives along the way, whether students, faculty, friends, or family.

Department of Psychology Chair Deborah Matheson said, “He was someone who lived to work. He loved his work, he loved the students.”

Matheson organized the memorial bench dedication along with fellow Psychology faculty member Dr. Caroline Burnley. They put the bench in a spot where Robertson often watched birds and surreptitiously fed the campus rabbits. A plaque with a guitar—an instrument he loved to play—was installed there this summer.

During the dedication, Matheson read a letter from Tara Cooper, a former Honours Student under Robertson currently doing her Master’s in Psychology at UVic.

Cooper shared how Robertson nurtured her curiosity and provided opportunities for exploring it. He also supervised her honours thesis, which she presented in Malaysia in June 2021.

“I was fortunate to have met Tony and to have learnt from him,” Cooper wrote. “It pains me that I will not be able to share the following chapters of my education with him … I will never forget him as I draw upon the knowledge he shared with me.”

Philosophy Professor Oscar Clemotte played an original composition called “Corazón de oro (Heart of Gold)” on his guitar. Clemotte, Robertson, and retired Dean of Social Sciences John Black often played music together on Friday afternoons.

Matheson and Burnley then spoke to Robertson’s wealth of knowledge, which he was always willing to share. So willing, in fact, that people seeking advice from him would have to make sure they had enough spare time to listen to everything he had to say. 

But the professors also praised his patient listening ear. He calmed tensions and always had a door open to students eager to visit him.

Students Katelyn Hart and Kristen Farley also presented a scrapbook to Robertson’s wife, retired VIU librarian Faith Takishita. The scrapbook contained drawings, cards, and other pieces from a memorial board that they and another student, Gale Hatchen, helped put together. The board had stood across from Robertson’s office on the third floor of the Education and Social Sciences building for the past year.

The service ended with closing remarks from Takishita and current Dean of Social Sciences Elizabeth Brimacombe.

Matheson hopes students will remember how giving Robertson was of his time and how much he helped people. “He was just an all-around good person with a really good heart,” she said.

Dr. Tony Robertson’s words and presence will be greatly missed, both on and off campus. Rest in peace.

 

Robertson earned his MA and PhD at Carleton University and conducted research at Simon Fraser University and Lions Gate Hospital before coming to what was then Malaspina College.

He also chaired the Education Council (now the VIU Senate) and participated in the recent rebranding of the Psychology Department. Outside of VIU, he served as Adjunct Associate Professor for the Department of Psychology and Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria, as well as Director for the Nanaimo Brain Injury Society (NBIS).

Editor

Sophia is in her third year at The Navigator and fifth (final!) year of the Creative Writing and Journalism program. Outside of The Nav, she volunteers as a Peer Helper and is doing another year of Portal Magazine. This summer, a solo trip to Japan ignited Sophia’s wanderlust. She hopes to return soon, next time with a stop in Korea.

"“I was fortunate to have met Tony and to have learnt from him...It pains me that I will not be able to share the following chapters of my education with him.""
"“He was just an all-around good person with a really good heart.”"

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