By Stephen Vance, Staff
It has been said that the good guys don’t get the ink in newspapers that the bad guys get, and that likely isn’t far from true, so here’s some good ink about a good guy that our municipality lost this week – municipal employee Bob Harding.
Bob had worked for the municipality for more than 25 years, and in those years he earned a reputation as the “go to” guy when something needed to get done. I first met Bob when I was managing the Meaford Farmers’ Market. Bob was the guy you could call on a late on a Friday afternoon when most other folks had their eye on the weekend.
In the early years he worked for the Public Utilities Commission for the Town of Meaford, and since amalgamation he had been the Utilities Supervisor for the Municipality of Meaford.
Sadly, last weekend Bob passed away unexpectedly, just a few short months after having lost his wife.
Anyone who has been involved in organizing special events in Meaford has likely crossed paths with Bob. As a qualified bucket-truck operator he could be found each year hanging scarecrows from lamp-posts, banners for the Meaford International Film Festival, or holiday wreaths in December.
Though I didn’t know Bob well, I crossed paths with him often whether it was through the farmers’ market, the newspaper, or other activities I was involved in. Several years ago when I was the coordinator of the annual Window Unveiling event, I discovered how much that one man was able to do. Coordinating with the police and other emergency services to arrange the closure of the main street, operating the bucket truck to get holiday decorations hung – not long after all those scarecrows had come down, arranging waste and recycling bins, and the list could go on and on.
Everything he did, he seemed to do with a smile on his face, and a hearty chuckle was never far from the surface. He made people feel comfortable, and he left others feeling confident that if he said something would be done, it would.
“I love the variety in my job, I never know what I will be doing next,” he told me in an interview in 2011.
While he was one of the best known municipal employees due to his involvement in helping prepare for major events, on most days you would find him maintaining street lights, or trees located on municipal property, or assisting road crews, and in the snowy winter months he was a spare driver for Meaford’s snowplow crew. He was also a licenced water and sewer worker, and as such he could be sometimes be found at the water treatment plant.
Outside of work, Bob enjoyed sports, small engine repair, and in recent years, with one eye on retirement, he spent free moments on his boat.
His wide range of skills and experience made him a valuable member of the municipal staff. His smile and kind heart made him a valuable member of the community.
Whether Bob would have ever actually retired could be debated, as even Bob was not entirely certain.
“I love my job so much that I just might keep going,” he told me in 2011, and I don’t doubt that he might have.
Bob Harding will be missed by his co-workers at the municipality, he will be missed by all of the various volunteer groups that hold events in this town, and he will be missed by the entire community.
Thank you for your service Bob, you served your community well, and in doing so, you earned the respect of many.