Sunday 17 August 2014

At 30 - Bob Olver

Some former colleagues would say family, journalism and cats comfortably filled the life and times of Robert Henry Olver, who died recently at 80 in Peterborough.

His media life covered a lot of bases, including a stint on the Toronto Sun sports desk during the glory years of the tabloid.  

Bob's blog and a series of postings called Songs of the Catkin Cats captured his feelings for felines. It can be read here.

Bob's children prepared the following obit:

OLVER, Robert Henry - (1934-2014) Our dad, Bob, died peacefully on July 27th at the age of 80 in Peterborough with his family at his side. He is lovingly remembered by his wife, Kathy; his children Robert, Heather, Matthew (Lisa), Chris (Vanessa) and Peter (Shannon); his grandchildren Ryan, Erin, Juliette, Owen and Jesse; and by great-grandchildren Breanne and Owen. Bob was also a loving father to Mark, who passed away in 2008.

A retired journalist, newspaper editor and author who recently completed his memoir, "Catness", Bob is also remembered as a tireless champion of the cat community, working with his wife Kathy to save the lives of countless animals over the years.

A memorial service will be held in his honour on Sunday, August 17th from 2 - 4 pm at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, 106 Trinity Street in Toronto (King St. and Parliament St.). In lieu of flowers, donations to Bob and Kathy's beloved Catkin Cat Farm would be gratefully accepted at any TD branch account number 255-5173241282615

A book promotion for the award-winning author reads:

Robert Olver has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and author, writing for major news organizations such as The Toronto Star and The Toronto Sun, Reuter News Agency  in London, and The Sun of London.

Olver's first novel, The Bicycle Tree, was published by McClelland and Stewart and his non-fiction work, The Making of Champions, was published by Penguin-Viking in 1991. His freelance work, fiction and non-fiction, has appeared in many publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Vanity Fair, Maclean's magazine and Chatelaine.

Awards include The Macmillan-Bloedel Award for Excellence for a series on drug addiction and two Dunlop Awards for news features on social issues related to sports. Olver and his wife, Kathy, are dedicated gardeners.

Their garden, known as The Cat Garden, was started in 1991 and has several times been featured on The Discovery Channel's TV series The Guerrilla Gardener, on CTV's Mark Cullen Gardening and in many newspaper and magazine articles.

In 1990, the Olvers founded The Catkin Willow Fund for Stray Cats, which mission is to rehabilitate abused and abandoned cats and to work with feral and even wild cats as well.

Our permanent feline community is limited to 30 at present, but we have helped hundreds of cats since Catkin Willow began.

Memories of Bob can be shared here by emailing

John Iaboni, former sports writer: "When Bob Olver first walked into the Sun's sports department and started editing copy, my first impression was: What the heck is this non-sports type who seemed more like an English professor doing here? Fact was he was a terrific editor.

"When he wasn't sure of what we were trying to say, he would actually ask us what we meant instead of putting pencil to type and ignoring our styles, writing skills and, yes, feelings. If the explanation made sense to him and beamed with enlightenment over some sporting phrase of fact he didn't know or comprehend, he'd leave it; if not, he'd recommend a way to write it so that the he and the reader would clearly get the picture.

"Bob's way would invariably be the right way. He was a great guy to work with and helped me become a better writer. My condolences to Bob's family."

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