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"FOB" 2003 Obituary


FOBES o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-22 published
Lloyd Dee FOBES
By Rena POLLEY Thursday, May 22, 2003 - Page A20
Father, brother, carpenter, baker, storyteller. Born January 31, 1934, in Ryley, Alberta. Died April 20 in Toronto, of cancer, aged 69.
Shortly after we moved onto our street, a man with a white goatee and a leather hat, wearing grey sweat pants and moccasins, went over to where the kids were playing and handed them a bag of brownies. He said he had just made them and wanted to know what they thought. The kids all disappeared, followed by the slamming of front doors, and the now-familiar scream: "Look what Dee gave us!" We all asked, "Who's Dee?"
We got weekly reports from the kids about this Dee fellow. They usually began with "Did you know..." and followed by "... that Dee was an Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer?" "... that he bakes hundred and hundreds of desserts?" "... that he has three daughters, four sisters and a brother out west, and another one he calls 'Sister' who lives nearby?" "... that he was a looker when he was younger?" "... that he drinks 20 cups of coffee a day, and if you need any work done, he is also a carpenter?" Oh, we thought, and obviously a great storyteller.
Then one Mother's Day we opened our door and sitting on our porch was a freshly baked carrot cake. "It's from Dee," the kids said, "Happy Mother's Day." The next day there was a knock at our door. Dee stood there with bags of baked goods. "I just made these," he said rubbing his hands together. "I think you will like them." We didn't introduce ourselves because we felt we knew him intimately and assumed he knew us. He came by weekly after that with more baked goods.
When the weather got warmer, Dee sat on his front porch. The kids would sit with him as he held court, regaling them with his stories. Slowly the adults began to wander over. It looked too interesting for us to ignore. We sat and ate and talked about anything and nothing. It is where we met each other: all neighbours, all on Dee's front porch, all over a few baked goods. It is where he unwittingly taught us about community.
But Dee could also draw lines in the sand. One neighbour was off Dee's baking list for two years. In a frantic state to leave on a family vacation, she had refused Dee's baking. After many apologies from her and pleading from her neighbours, Dee finally put her back on his list. If you dared to ask to buy any of the baked goods, you were off his list. If you put in a request, you were off his list. As one neighbour said, it was a sad sight to see Dee walk down the street handing out baked goods and pass by your door.
For our annual street fair, Dee would bring over 300 brownies and pecan tarts for the kids to sell. He insisted they keep the money. With part of the proceeds, we bought the kids gear for their street-hockey game. Dee enjoyed watching them play almost as much as he loved watching his Toronto Maple Leafs. We bought him a pair of handmade moccasins as a thank-you gift. When we saw him shuffling around in his old ones, we asked him why he wasn't wearing the new moccasins. He said, "Oh, they are too good to wear, I still have them in the box."
We finally met "Sister." Her name is Anne. When Dee became sick, Anne and her two daughters Alecia and Carolynne spent every day at the hospital with Dee. His daughter Karen came from British Columbia as well. We learned that after Anne's husband died, Dee lived with her for years under the guise of helping her renovate but it was really to be a good brother to her and a surrogate father to her daughters.
It has been 11 years since Dee moved into the basement apartment across the street. The porch is empty now. Over the simple gesture of sharing food, Dee taught us the power of community and made our street a better place to live.
Rena POLLEY was a neighbour of Dee Fobes.

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