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Robert Bibby and the CD-ROM Music Collection Parkdale United Church Orchestra

   In 2007-2008 the Parkdale United Church Orchestra purchased eight volumes of the Orchestra Musician's CD ROM Library - orchestral parts in electronic format of over 600 masterworks from the Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods. This major acquisition was purchased with memorial contributions made by family and friends of Bob Bibby, a member of the orchestra who died suddenly in August 2006.

   One perhaps spends more time learning and playing the music than in learning about one's fellow musicians. So here are some details about Bob Bibby's life - received from Ray Chalk, Tom Bibby, and Elke Bibby.

   Bob was a member of the cello section for more than 12 years. He often showed up at rehearsals with small bits of cello parts rewritten in a simplified version for members of the section. With his snow-white hair and cheerful smile, he was always ready to help out with the extra chores of moving chairs and music stands. As a member of the orchestra he served on several committees.

   In 2006 the Music Committee approved Bob's suggestion of Goldmark's "Rustic Wedding Symphony" for inclusion in a future concert, subsequently purchased for the orchestra by Bob. This relatively unknown work turned out to be one of the more difficult items the orchestra has ever performed. Ironically, Bob never got to play it.

   Robert grew up near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. In his teens he became interested in things electrical, and started by building crystal sets, the most elementary of radios, followed by building several more advanced radios used by the family. His interest in science led to a degree in engineering physics from the University of Saskatchewan.

   He worked in Toronto with Ferranti Electric and subsequently helped build one of the first computers, installed in the Engineering Building, University of Toronto. It had several huge banks of circuitry using old fashioned vacuum tubes and, according to Robert, was nothing but a glorified calculator. It made a significant contribution to the Faculty of Engineering at that time.

   He moved to Ottawa and was a part of the team that developed the Canadian Alouette satellites. Robert looked after the telemetry, i.e. the radio messages sent back to earth from the satellites. He supervised the construction of satellite tracking stations in Brazil, Trondheim (Norway), Resolute Bay on the Northwest Passage, and one near Prince Albert Sask. While working for the Canadian Government he helped develop the early Global Positioning systems for such things as downed aircraft.

   Robert did not talk a lot about his considerable contributions to the scientific world.

   Elke, his devoted second wife, got to know Robert when he brought his pets to her clinic. They already knew each other through their children who had formed strong friendships while attending the same primary school. She says that she and Robert shared a love for classical music, though his first love was his big combined family of seven children (he was a kind, loving, understanding father), and his second love was the Parkdale Orchestra.

Peggy Atherton
Former Librarian
with thanks to Ray Chalk, Tom Bibby, and Elke Bibby.