Robert Lunness (76)
Robert was born at Adwick as one of eight children to Joseph and Kathleen. He went to school at Carcroft and enjoyed a happy childhood. As a boy he would help his dad with the livestock but he initially worked in haulage of which he made a great success. Jean told me that they met as teenagers.Clearly Bob was a bit of a looker as a young man who was dead ringer for Elvis in his youth. They married in 1962 which meant that they have been together for 62 years. She also told me that it was a very happy marriage as they moved first of all to Adwick then Thorpe in Balne, East Cowick and Burghwallis.
Indeed, it was buying the farm at East Cowick in 1983 that marked the beginning of a significant development in the family’s life. The farm was initially arable but Bob had a keen eye for livestock and particularly pedigree cattle. He bought Charolais and then Simmentals. It was with his Simmentals that Bob achieved national recognition. His cow Stewerts Law Melody won Best of Show at Stoneleigh winning the Burke Trophy which was presented by H M the Queen. He also won the interbreed Trophy at the East of England Show presented this time by the Queen Mother. Bob went on to be a well-respected judge both nationally and international and served his term as the President of the British Simmental Society.Bob had a keen interest in football and was an avid Manchester United Fan – even when he was gravely ill he insisted on listening to the match in hospital!
Jean and Bob’s children – Deborah and Kevin – told me how he was a caring dad with a good sense of humour who could be quite strict but who was always there for them. Deborah told me how her dad would take her to show jumping encouraging her to compete at the highest level. I learned how Kevin would look to Bob for advice seeing in him a man of great knowledge and wisdom. This clearly contributed to the respect in which Bob was held by others who saw in him a hard-working man of strong character who was often referred to as ‘Mr Simmental.’
Jean told me how Bob was her rock and best friend; how he would always seek her advice before making a decision and how they worked together as a true partnership. There were times when they visit shows with Bob driving the cattle and Jean driving the motor home. Perhaps a sign of Bob’s soft heart and caring side was when they discovered that they had inadvertently taken some baby birds with them which had nested in the Motor home. Bob wasn’t at peace until he had placed them in the care of the RSPCA.
Shows became a place of socialising for Bob and Jean showing his outgoing nature. And despite not having a true holiday from work for 20 years, they ultimately did enjoy holidays on cruises to the Caribbean and visiting Tenerife which was a particular favourite destination of Bob’s. In later years Bob and Jean enjoyed time spent at their villa in Spain until Jean’s health made this too much for them. As we have heard Bob was a devoted father and more recently grandfather who was very proud of his grandchildren. In his youth he enjoyed dancing – so much so that Bob and Jean were Jive champions. But the dance tune people would remember most was the Floral Dance which he would whistle to himself when he was in a good mood.
Bob had really only been ill for two months and even worked through his pain to the very end. When someone dies unexpectedly there are often things left unsaid, things left undone that you never had the time or opportunity to say or do. That is why wee said those prayers of penitence which remind us of the unfinished business in all our lives. For the Christian, however, death is not the end but a point of transition and change. In Jesus God became like us so that we might be like him. Jesus died as we die so that we may rise as he rose. That is the Christian hope.
Bob did have a private faith – he prayed every day. Deborah told me how he prayed with her when he was very ill; a deep sharing of religious experience that is important for us all. Today I commend Robert’s soul to God’s eternal keeping giving thanks for all that has been good in his life: as a husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague. As a man who worked hard and achieved much; a man who was respected and loved by others.
My Robert this day rest in peace and rise in glory.