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 Montreal Fireworks Forum —› News —› Rest in Peace, Robert Burch
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Posted: Jan 21, 2017 17:55:38

For anyone who's been to the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, you will probably have run into fireworks photographer extraordinaire, Bob Burch.

Bob has been very ill recently, and today, Saturday 21st January, ended his life voluntarily at The Lachine General Hospital in Montreal.

Here is Bob's farewell message from Facebook.

Rest in Peace, Bob.

WELL, I made it … 69 spins around the earth on this wheel called life.

For those who have noticed my absence on Facebook of late, it is because I have been hospitalized for advanced stage COPD. Rather than wait for the foreseeable end, along with its attendant panic attacks and other extremely negative manifestations, I will use Quebec's recently enacted doctor-assisted “End of Life” option – as applied to cases when quality of life is reduced to the point where it no longer makes sense to prolong the inevitable.

This will take place around 5:00 pm today, January 21. So for most of you who read this, I will already be gone, and for the others, I am leaving very soon. It's time to leap off this wheel we call life … time to reflect on a lifetime of adventures … time to appreciate our many friendships forged by common interests … time to ponder what my new future may hold … time to celebrate past moments of success and failures too …

I am truly grateful for the many friendships I have discovered on Facebook and through use of the internet in general ... definitely one the most exciting and enduring creations of the late 20th century. It's been both fun and enlightening to touch base with people from a distant past, and to share experiences with total strangers who have the same or similar interests.

My love of fireworks extends to the many artists and chemists around the world who create the pyrotechnic magic we see in the night sky. Thanks to all of you for being my friend and introducing me to an ever evolving art form. A portion of my cremated ashes will be mixed with gunpowder and stars and sealed inside a large display shell. This will be fired at one of the shows at La Ronde this summer during the International Fireworks Competition. You might say, “It' will be Bob's Last Blast”.

And there is the great fraternity of balloonists that I have met and flown with over the years. From the rich and famous - to the vagabond pilots flying passengers on 'balloon safaris' in Africa, thank you one and all for being my friend. And to my loyal balloon crews in each place I have flown, you are not forgotten. Without you there would be no ballooning. Thank you for being a part of the well-oiled machinery that makes our sport possible. Another portion of my ashes will be scattered from a balloon in a flight over the Richelieu River in the Chambly region. - my Final Flight.

So too is the revival of many old friendships from our earlier adolescence, when we parted company to seek our separate way(s) in life. Many of you have come full circle, dusting off the memories that linked our past. Thank you for the opportunity to renew old friendships and for providing a window into the lives of fellow classmates and their current activities. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Big Reunion, but I felt like I was there in spirit. And thank you especially to Dave Dean for valued advice and catching me up on Who's Who, etc.

Finally, a Big Farewell to the many people I have met throughout my career as a travel writer and photographer. You have provided me with the ammunition for interesting stories and shared many a laugh and a beer in yet another drinking spot at some far-flung corner of the planet. I hope they have beer in the next life; if not, then I will have to invent it.

It's been a helluva ride these past 69 years. The wheel is slowing down and I am about to hop off – but not before I thank Life itself for all the wonderful moments. Thank you for letting me swim with a whale shark, thank you for the morning dew on a field of berries, thank you for sunrises and sunsets, thank you for dreams and thank you for the gift of imagination. These gifts and many more make us who we are, defining both our unique personalities and our common interests at the same time. But I am grateful as well for the little moments in this thing we call life… things like a seahorse, popcorn, mushrooms, rainbows, fireflies, and snowflakes.

I have asked that the main bulk of my ashes be scattered inside the temple of Ta Phrom at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Much of this temple is slowly being reclaimed by Nature as the jungle creeps over the ruins and massive roots engulf windows and doorways. The Buddha is waiting for me … I hope he will guide me and lead me to the next great adventure.

As I cross the threshold and step into the firmament, I will tread softly through the stardust.

I will hold eternity in the palm of my hand and caress the velvet fingers of infinity.

I shall sing and dance to the music of the spheres.

I shall float through the plasma on gossamer wings and listen to the whispers of the solar wind.

I will sail on the river of time and swim in the cosmic ocean.

I shall drink nectar from the cup of creation and dine on galactic spice.

I shall bask in the glow of starlight and sleep beneath the blanket of the Milky Way.

I shall marvel at explosions of dying suns and bear witness to the birth of new worlds.

I will strive to unlock the powers of wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
The end is near and the time has come. I shall leave you now … Robert


Posted: Jan 22, 2017 13:55:30

I have talked countless times with Bob at La Ronde since a decade. I can't claim that I knew him very well: our discussions were typically short and focused on the show we had just seen. Sometimes, he discussed about a comment I had written in this forum, or video recording issues when the extravaganzas (or the weather!) were too intense. He also told me, a couple of times, about his trips around the world.

I keep the souvenir of a discreet guy, who preferred to turn the spotlight (or the camera!) toward the fireworks and the artists who paint the sky, instead of making selfies. His contribution has been celebrated the night of the closing show, last summer, by the competition director during the award ceremony, but gifts were discreetly given to him during the after show party at the Salon des artificiers, as he preferred that instead of going on stage. The moment was emotional, many of us suspected that Bob had just seen his ultimate fireworks show at La Ronde.

The fireworks community has lost a great photographer. When I have the opportunity to bring first timers at the Salon des artificiers, I bring them downstairs where a series of photographs decorate some walls and I show them what is, for me, his best pictures: the British sun from Pains Fireworks in 2007:

http://montreal-fireworks.com/cgi-bin/photogen.cgi?Pics2007/Burch/engl and-08.jpg,600,402

Given one of his latest wishes, it seems that Bob will actually be with us next summer.

RIP.

Fred
 

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