Wandong and Heathcote Junction came together on Saturday to commemorate a man who was considered a prominent figure in the community.
Robert Bamford, 69, died in mid-April, but dozens of residents gathered outside Wandong IGA – where he would often sit in his favourite chair – to remember his life and the impact he left on the community.
Residents Roger Fletcher and Ian Blyth presented a eulogy at the gathering reflecting on their experiences with him.
“We knew Robert through his friendly greeting as he either sat in his chair between the IGA and Dundee’s or when he made his way around the town,” they said.
“We knew him for his pride in this place in the way he picked up litter – down to the smallest cigarette butt – and placed it in the nearest rubbish bin.
“Robert was a well-recognised member of the Wandong community – a community that shared in his friendly greetings, bought him a coffee, a meal or cold drink, while pausing for a brief chat.”
Although a private man, after his death, members of the community reflected on memories and post their thoughts online – helping to shape the elements of his life.
“Robert was a gentleman,” one member posted.
“Miss you already Rob – it’s not the same without you there in your corner – it feels weird whenever I go shopping,” said another.
“He always had a “g’day love” when I’d see him out the front of Dundee’s,” another said.
His 13-year-old Staffy named Shy stayed alongside him until the end, passing less than a week after he was gone.
Several community members spoke at the ceremony about their recollections of Robert.
It was shared that he once was a nurse and then a toolmaker at a company in Melbourne’s north.
“Robert’s chair will be empty now and every time we walk past it we will miss his friendly hello,” Mr Fletcher said.
Mr Fletcher said the commemoration was motivated entirely from the community.
“I thought it was an excellent turnout. I think it’s a great illustration of the community in Wandong-Heathcote Junction,” he said.
“He spoke to more people in one day than most people speak to in a week.”
Roberts chair remains outside the IGA alongside Misty’s ashes, flowers, pictures and a few of his favourite items.