By Lynn A. Wade
Nevada Daily Mail
Robert "Bob" Mabry was laid to rest Thursday, following a funeral attended by a few dozen area residents. The crowd was filled with mourners from all walks of life, who came to share in their sadness that he's gone, and their joy that he had lived.
Some of the mourners knew Mabry quite well; others simply knew him as the man on the bicycle, or the daffodill man.
Mabry died last Friday, his body found by a motorist at the bottom of an embankment. He'd been riding his bicycle and apparently lost control for some reason. An autopsy later revealed he'd apparently struck his head on a rock when he fell. But it wasn't his death that mattered to the mourners at Ferry Funeral Home on Thursday. It was his life.
Gary Jennings, who officiated at the service, said, "He lived his life the way he wanted to; not the way other people thought he should," adding later that if more people followed that philosophy, the world would likely be a better place to live in.
Since Friday, many people have contacted the Daily Mail about Mabry; stopping by to see when the funeral will be; sharing a few words about how he'd touched their lives. One gentleman didn't identify himself, but said he'd just recently come to know Mabry; describing him as a "really good person; a good friend."
Mabry lived on a farm along BB Highway, in a home that fell into disrepair over the years, and with a car few recall ever having seen him drive. Mabry's favored mode of transportation was his bicycle. On that bicycle, he picked up trash along BB Highway, traveled to town, brought daffodills and coupons to local folks and went to lots of community events.
Family and friends remember much more about Mabry.
Mabry's niece, Carolyn Lovelace, remembers her Great Uncle Bob who would sneak her a piece of hard candy from a kitchen drawer, then head off on a hike.
"We have always enjoyed our time together, and my kids have learned more from him, on appreciation, survival, and the difference between wanting and needing than they could have ever gotten in a classroom. He makes you humble, appreciative, and makes you realize we can survive without all of today's technologies. He was one of a kind, more than family to me, He was one of my dearest friends. My heart hurts for the suffering he went through, but I know he is in a very special place, taking a walk."
Her son once asked about an old car on the property, that had been there for many years.
"Uncle Bob proceeded to tell the story of how that was his car he took to college, not leaving out any details, and when he returned it pretty much just sat. Louie was amazed because he graduated college in 1960 and that was almost 50 years ago (at the time.) Uncle Bob proceeded to tell Louie that he could have the car to take to college, but there was a catch! Louie and Kara would have to wait for the raccoon and the babies that took up residency in it to become of age and vacate the premises. This was the same raccoon that stole two of the cell phones he had," she wrote in an e-mail.
She had many fond memories. One was "walking around the farm in amazement of the rock walls he built with his own hands to filter the water to the lake. Over the years the bottom rocks were massive compared to the ones on top; still a good size, but notably smaller."
Another was "looking up at the selections of hickories, pecans, and oaks that were throughout his farm. He would always have a bag of pecans ready for us in December and another round in February."
A memorial message on photos displayed at the funeral said he was a man who asked for nothing, but would give you everything, a sentiment about which many viewers nodded in apparent agreement.
Connie Oyer said Mabry visted many businesses, bringing those flowers folks often talked about and sharing coupons he'd clipped; but it was the memories and stories he shared that meant the most to her.
"When I was Center Township Collector and had my office in Bank of America, Bob came in one day to tell me he had stories to share with me about my dad, aunts, and uncles. He had gone to school with them beginning in grade school. I was so surprised that he knew my maiden name. I was really glad that he took the time to come and share his memories with me," Oyer said in an e-mail.
Kristin Shurley wrote:
"Bob was my father's best friend, he knew him from the age of 9 ... I remember fondly a man, really a family member, who always put others first, seeking no attention or thanks, but always willing to give a helping hand or kind word."
When she was a child, "Bob joined our family in Alaska, and I will never forget two very special moments: Bob cooking wheaty pancakes and Bob scaling the steep mountains with the agility and grace of a mountain goat. I was in awe of this man. As the years passed, I was able to visit Bob in Nevada on many of my trips back home; and we stayed in touch by mail at Christmas. I never lost my childlike admiration and always enjoyed his love of life, the many stories, and his sincerity in how he treated and respected his friends, family -- and yes, even strangers.
"His heart radiated love, his actions reflected his inner beauty ... I'll always treasure the memories and the thoughtfulness behind the many coupons, and used lottery tickets he would send me in the mail, for I always knew that this simple gesture, was one of pure selflessness, always wanting the best for me ... I will miss him, but his spirit will live on, and I hope that through his example all of us can bring a smile and a kind word to others."
Mabry, a U.S. Army veteran, was laid to rest in Moore Cemetery, with full military honors.