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For more than half a century, the man has been the most recognized — and talked-about — citizen in his hometown of Campbellton, New Brunswick.

That’s rather odd because he has never run for office … nor has he had a half-decent job, let alone a prominent one. He has also never owned a vehicle … nor had a driver’s license. And get this: forget high school, the man didn’t complete grade school.

What’s really bizarre is that in his 70-plus years, he has committed no crimes — yet he’s been punished far more than most criminals.

Who is he???

His name is Bobby Steeves.

People in Campbellton, a community of 7,300, all know Bobby’s name. But they don’t know his story …


In some ways, it’s my story too.

It’s everyone’s story.

I was a little kid when I first saw Bobby Steeves. The year was 1957 and I was walking down Duncan Street in the west end of Campbellton, headed to my grade-one class at the Roseberry Street School.

Tucked away in my Roy Rogers packsack were pencils, an eraser, wooden ruler, a Hilroy scribbler [with treasured tiny, shiny stars from the teachers] — and my Dick and Jane reader.

And like most youngsters, I didn’t have a care in the world. Life was fun. Easy street.


SEE BOBBY RUN

Suddenly, some major excitement was happening. A lad, a few years older than me, was being chased by a bully. The bully — I’ll call him ‘Baboon’ — soon caught up to his prey, Bobby Steeves.

Bobby tripped and fell, landing face down in the grass alongside a picket fence. The chase ended right there. The youngster was trapped. He lay on the ground, trembling. Looming over him, fists clenched, was the victorious Baboon.

Baboon towered over his hapless, helpless victim, punching and kicking him. Turtling to shield himself from the blows, the kid screamed and pleaded for mercy.

It didn’t help.

I had no idea what Bobby had done to deserve such a hammering. I now realize it was because he was different. Here’s a clue: he ran like a girl.

Not only was the assault non-stop, so was the diatribe. Every slam was laced with a profanity.

I was just a kid, I know, but I hadn’t heard — or seen — anything like that before. I was stunned … yet sort of fascinated by it all, like a fan at a hockey game when a fight breaks out.

Even though Bobby whimpered and pleaded, the assault continued until his tormentor was exhausted. Mission accomplished, Mr. Tough Guy — beaming from ear to ear — proudly glanced in the direction of a small group of kids who’d seen the whole thing.

I was part of that group.

I was secretly hoping Bobby would start swinging and deliver a knock-out punch — just like in the old black and white westerns at the Capitol Theatre where the good guy — the handsome dude wearing the white hat — decked the bad guy, the not-so-handsome guy with the black hat.

There would be no knock-out punch. Not even an attempt. Bobby remained on the ground, curled up, whimpering.

Nobody came to help Bobby Steeves. He was very much alone. There was no intervention — and no objection. Zip. And no sympathy, or so it seemed.

Sure, you could say that we were just kids and Baboon would have beaten the snot out of us too if we told him to stop. Maybe. But maybe not. Before I walked into class that day, I’d learned a valuable lesson: How the silent majority behaves.

I also found out who I was. The unprovoked assault on an innocent person left me feeling cheap. Sixty years later, I am humbled to say, what I witnessed that day — and my reaction to it — still gnaws at me.


A HATE CRIME

Bobby Steeves was guilty of the crime of being different. He was — what we jokingly referred to in the day — a queer. A homo. We could easily toss in another 10 or 20 descriptors, including ‘easy target.’

There are moments when one’s life seems upside down, when things are terribly messed up. For Bobby Steeves, his life was ALWAYS upside down.

Someone once found Bobby shaking like a leaf in a canoe, of all places, hiding from a goon who wanted to pound the living daylights out of him. Baboon wasn’t the only asshole in town.

Another thing, and it’s an important point. Bobby wasn’t bright. He was — in PC parlance — ‘mentally-challenged’ which made his journey in life that much more hellish.

Maybe every community has a Bobby Steeves, I don’t know. I suspect the world is full of people like him. They may be a couple of crayons short of a rainbow, but deep down, perhaps — and you must decide if this is important — perhaps they’re actually kind and forgiving people. I think that’s important.

When I turned 18, I pulled out of Campbellton with a suitcase of new clothes, a cheap Kodak Instamatic camera and some old memories, mostly good ones. However, I could never delete from the hard drive on my shoulders the hammering that Bobby Steeves took that day. I tried to make sense of it but couldn’t.

The months and years would morph into a decade before I finally ‘worked out’ who Bobby was. He was gay. He wasn’t heterosexual, like me. Like most of us. That was strike one. Bobby was also simple. Strike two. Boom.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Never heard of it.

I’m sure the good folk of Campbellton never thought of Bobby Steeves as a victim of a hate crime, but he surely was. And yes, of course, the world was ‘a different place then,’ etc.

My brain and heart don’t always agree on things, but I’m telling you what my heart was thinking. Something was terribly wrong here.


OLDER, WISER

I returned to Campbellton from time to time, sometimes spotting Bobby doing his Forrest Gump thing and by that, I mean walking and running here and there. He still walked like a girl.

And he was always alone. Can’t say I ever saw him with a friend.

People driving by often called out his name. “Bobby!” they’d shout and lay on the horn. Like a trained seal, Bobby would turn, wave and smile like the sun. A fun time for all. The guys, especially, seemed to enjoy teasing Bobby … and perhaps he didn’t mind the attention, I couldn’t really tell.

And what did I do about this abuse? Zip. Let’s be honest here. I wasn’t part of the solution; I was part of the problem.

Mind you, back then that “small-town mentality” was very much alive in places like Campbellton. I’m talking about views on sexuality, religion, old grudges, etc. I raise the point because it’s not purely an ‘age’ thing but where one is brought up as well.

I made no effort to sit down and talk with Bobby Steeves … although as I got older I thought it would be a good idea to get his thoughts on life and meaningful stuff like that.

In late August 2016, I was back in Campbellton and figured I’d get around and meet Mr. Steeves. He wasn’t hard to find. I soon discovered that he had a basement suite in what used to be his small family home at the west end of Lansdowne Street.

I knocked on a paint-blistered side door. No answer. I then put my ear to the door hoping to hear somebody inside. The only sound was the barking of a small dog.

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FINALLY. WE MEET.

I returned a few days later and knocked on the door again. This time, the man I was looking for was home. “Who is it?” a voice called out.

I opened the door slightly, told him my name … and announced that I was coming in. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, Bobby Steeves was standing to my right. The puzzled look on his face signaled he had no clue who I was and why I was visiting him.

We shook hands. I jokingly said I had good news and bad news … the good news was that I was not a Jehovah Witness; the bad news was that I was a reporter. Don’t think he got it.

What Bobby did get, however, was my business card.

“I saw you a long time ago,” I remarked, hoping to grab his attention, “… but it wasn’t nice. You were beaten up pretty bad … by Baboon.”

“Remember him?”

While Bobby studied my card, I continued my trip down Memory Lane without waiting for an answer. “Do you recall that day, Bobby? You were attacked alongside a wooden fence, not far from here.” “Yes,” came a near-whisper reply, his eyes darting back and forth as he tried to work out where this was going …

Bobby interrupted my story to reveal his attacker’s real name, adding he thought he’d moved away from Campbellton after the police warned him “if he ever attacked Bobby again, he’d go to jail!” Steeves drove the point home by wagging his finger at me.

“Whatever happened to that son-of-a-bitch?” I asked. The answer: “He moved to Ontario and got married … I think he had children.” “I wonder if they turned out to be assholes,” I countered. “I don’t know,” Bobby replied … his voice trailing, suggesting it was time to change the subject.

Sometimes Memory Lane has some huge potholes.

“What’s the name of your roommate?” I asked, motioning my head toward a small mutt that couldn’t sit still. “Pitou,” he said. “He’s a nice puppy.”

Pitou is a classic French name for a dog that roughly translates into ‘cute little puppy.’

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The dog was loyal to Bobby but he jumped all over the place. I asked Bobby to hold him steady so I could take this photo.


THE GOON

New Brunswick has more than its share of Rhodes scholars, but Bobby’s tormentor sure wasn’t one of them. Baboon could barely read and write — and ‘according to unconfirmed reports’ — he once got someone to prominently print ‘Hells Angels’ on the back of one of his proud possessions, a black leather jacket.

Baboon was later stopped by police and asked why he was wearing apparel like that. He quickly explained that he didn’t really belong to the Hells Angels. “That’s not the problem,” said the officer, “why are you wearing a jacket that says FUCK OFF?”

I don’t know if that story is true or if it’s another ‘urban legend.’ No matter. It’s now part of Campbellton folklore.

Bobby and his tormentor had one thing in common. They were both simple. One was harmless, the other hopeless.

The physical attacks and the harassment Bobby suffered were — for a large part — condoned by the people of Campbellton. Remember, we’re talking 1950s and 60s … and people weren’t as tolerant of those who were ‘different.’

As Michael Landry puts it, Bobby Steeves was the bravest man to walk the streets of Campbellton.


ANNIE’S PAIN

About 10 years ago, I got word from a good friend that Bobby’s mother, Annie, had died. She’d loved her son dearly. That touched me, as real love does.

Someone recently shared that Bobby often visits his mother’s plot at the Campbellton Rural Cemetery, at the west end of Duncan Street.

Another hit.

Bobby and I talked about this and so I asked, “Would you care to show me your mother’s grave?” He agreed. He was pleasantly surprised I took an interest in something that was dear to him.

Bobby kept his word. I dropped by his house one morning and said, “let’s go to the cemetery.” Campbellton being Campbellton, the graveyard was only a few minutes’ drive away.

Once our seat-belts went ‘click,’ I did a U-turn and we were off to the races. “Nice car,” he said.

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BOBBY’S PAIN

The grave of Annie [Flannagan] Steeves [1910-2003], in the far southeast corner of the cemetery, was adorned with flowers. No other plot had as many.

The flowers were synthetic. Fake. However, Bobby’s love for the woman who stood by him through all his pain was anything but fake.

We walked up to the grave. “Was it you who got these beautiful flowers?” I asked. “Yes,” Bobby replied, glancing my way. “Did the flowers, by chance, come from other graves …?”

Perhaps it was out of place to ask, but I did anyway. Bobby ducked the question. He rubbed his chin and said, “My, she was wonderful! … just wonderful!”

That she was, Mr. Steeves. I can’t begin to fathom the stress and sorrow that poor lady went through.

“She loved you dearly, didn’t she?” Bobby nodded again, this time in silence, his eyes fixed on a small, gray speckled tombstone. At this point, I figured he might open up and say something. But no, not a word. I understood. People can still say plenty even when they say nothing.

Bobby leaned over and began brushing grass clippings off the base of the tombstone. A simple grave in a far corner of the cemetery had been transformed into a private shrine, and I sensed that Bobby wanted things to be ‘just so.’

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

We then went for breakfast, Bobby Steeves and I. We got back in the rental and drove to the sleepy village of Tide Head, just west of Campbellton, pulling up at one of my favourite dining spots — the Sanfar Restaurant.

It’s here where owner and friend Dave Richards, with two plasticized menus in hand, escorted us to a table in the corner of a back room.

It was a quiet spot. Private. We could talk without anyone listening in.

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Sanfar Resort and Restaurant, Tide Head, New Brunswick. That’s my ‘nice [black] car’ in the lot … click on the photo to enlarge.


“HE’S HARMLESS …”

Bobby Steeves was mentally challenged but he sure had excellent table manners. He also knew how to say ‘thank you.’

The man ate everything on his plate, and at Sanfar they serve big helpings. I got a few things off my plate as well. I had a few questions but one, in particular, made Bobby uncomfortable. “You’re gay, aren’t you?” He looked up, stopped eating, waited a few seconds and announced, quite definitively, “Yes.” Bobby’s eyes never left mine, a clear signal his sexual orientation was none of my business.

I broke the silence. Getting back to that decades-old attack by Baboon, I remarked, “… what did your Mom say about those who beat you up?” “She told me,” Bobby offered, “not to mind them …”

How it must have broken Mrs. Steeves’ heart to see her boy crying, bloodied and bruised when he hadn’t done anything wrong. She must have thought, where’s the justice here?

I wondered too about how other family members handled this “situation.” They must have struggled with it as well. A burden for all.

Don’t let anyone tell you the 1950s were always Happy Days.

However, a lot changes in half a century … including our views on those who don’t fit in. Bobby Steeves is no longer hunted down and turned into a human punching bag. For the most part, the catcalls have also ended.

Today the people of Campbellton not only accept Bobby — now an aging senior — they also treat him well. Dare I say with respect. They’ll share a coffee with the man and if the weather is bad — even if it’s not — they’ll give him a lift home.

They have now rallied behind him.

“He’s harmless,” a cousin of mine pointed out. Another described him kind and friendly, having a good heart.

I’m not around Campbellton a lot [I live in Alberta] so I don’t see Bobby much but I gotta say, he is sometimes on my mind.

Over the years, I have come across situations where people have been wronged and I’ve had a chance to put the truth out there — as in ‘do the right thing.’ Shine a light, etc. Sometimes my mind will replay the attack on Bobby, him on the ground squirming, the blows landing in slow motion — and a little voice in my head says, Stand up, for Christ sakes! Don’t let this be another ‘Bobby Steeves moment’ where you keep your mouth shut.

‘Baboon’s’ assault on Bobby Steeves is more than a bad memory. It’s a curse. In a strange twist, it has made me a better person, certainly a better reporter. I don’t mind sharing that with you.


ANGELS: THEY’RE EVERYWHERE

In early 2016, during civic election night in New Brunswick, one of the candidates running for office in Campbellton spotted Bobby Steeves milling about her election office and gave him a lift home.

The side trip meant a little less time with her family on this, the biggest day of her career, but so be it. It was important to her that Bobby got home safe.

That night, Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin became Campbellton’s first female mayor.

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FINALLY …

I believe that a good number of angels — both in Campbellton and in that “Better Place” — have been looking out for Bobby, and I suspect they have put in some overtime too. Good for them. If I get to Heaven I’ll buy ’em a beer.

I told Bobby I was bothered about what happened a long time ago. I also shared that I knew he’d been persecuted for no other reason than he was different. Unlike other homosexuals in Campbellton, Bobby didn’t have the smarts to conceal who he was, nor did his family have the resources to keep his secret a secret.

“What do you have to say about those who mercilessly targetted and humiliated you?” I asked. I was now giving Bobby — a true survivor — an opportunity to unload on the Baboons and others who’d made his life a living hell. Here was his chance to tell them how he really felt …

Bobby paused. I waited. Then came his answer, and what he had to say completely caught me off guard. “These are nice people,” he said, in reference to the men and women of Campbellton. “Nice people,” adding, “I have lots of friends …”

Finally. That knock-out punch.


FLOWERS FOR BOBBY

A follow-up: There’s been a positive response to the article on Bobby Steeves … it is now past 17,000 views. No other story on my blog has ever been off to a start like that.

Most of the readers are from Canada, but the article has also been read by people in more than three dozen countries. So. Bobby’s story is touching folk around the world, as it should.

The number of sincere and courageous comments on the blog site alone number 60-plus, most ever. Then there’s Facebook with 400 shares, plus more than 100 comments. All in all, quite a show of support for a man who’d been shunned his entire life.

Last fall, Carolyn Price of Halifax and an anonymous friend in Campbellton teamed up to have a “Flowers for Bobby” box at the Customer Service counter at Sobeys in Campbellton. The box is now closed.

People made donations which were put on a gift card so that Bobby could buy his own flowers, real or otherwise. Hundreds of dollars was collected.

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Screen Shot 2016-11-09 at 7.46.31 AM.pngThe Bobby Steeves story is much more than a yarn about bullying and being different, both timely topics on their own. It’s also a story of love, forgiveness, understanding … and, I guess, redemption.

Makes me want to say that the Big Guy upstairs works in mysterious ways, like the Good Book says. I owe Him a beer too.

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Bobby Steeves with the flowers and a solar-powered butterfly he chose — all paid for by donations to ‘Flowers For Bobby.’ Photo taken June 20, 2017, by Brenda Lee Letourneau.


A CLASS ACT

In June 2017, at a small, red-bricked school in the Village of Tide Head, a veteran K/1 teacher decided to go beyond the textbooks and give her students a real lesson about life. Donna Doucet-Savoie talked to the young ones about Bobby Steeves and the difficult times he had.

The students then crafted birthday cards for Bobby …

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Students at the elementary school in Tide Head proudly display their birthday cards for Bobby Steeves.

The unique act of kindness, which was posted on several Facebook sites, led to a corporate pat on the back for Doucet-Savoie. Beth Stymiest, Superintendent of the Anglophone North School District, fired off a  kudos letter to the innovative instructor, naming her as a Starfish Award recipient for her “extraordinary act of kindness that made a difference in someone’s life.”

It sure did. Her gesture also touched Facebook readers across the world:

Congratulations Donna, you received the recognition you certainly deserve and the students learned a great life lesson [Linda]  The world needs more great people like you!!! [Tracy]  Children need to learn valuable lessons at a young age to carry through their lives. [Gloria]  You are certainly an inspiration to these students and everyone who knows you. [Jane]  Congratulations not only to you but your students.” [Daniel] “The kids will remember [this] forever. [Jacqueline]  I too grew up in Campbellton and this story touched my heart in a personal way. It is so heart-warming in our troubled world to hear stories like this. [Claudette]  If all who are in a position of influence on little hearts and minds were to do the same all over the world just imagine! [Leslie] She has a great caring heart and all her students will surely learn to follow her loving ways. [Nancy]  It is so refreshing to read about kindness. [Bev]  You are one special teacher and hope there are more teachers out there as my grandkids move forward. [Diane]  You make us proud to have been teachers. [Shirley]  You are setting such a good example for our kids. [Shelley]  A very kind gesture on the part of you and your students. [Carmel]  Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life. [Edris] Tide Head School is the best! [Bonnie]  You did a beautiful thing by sowing love in kids’ hearts. [Margot] Lovely gesture — still so proud of my hometown of Tide Head and its teachers and students. [Ruth] I bet your kids will take that act of kindness through their lives. [Phyllis] Maybe we can beat back ignorance one wonderful teacher at a time. [Lucienne]


RECOGNITION

Thanks to Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin and an outpouring of public support, the City of Campbellton honoured Bobby Steeves at the Civic Centre on Sunday, 2 July 2017 with two certificates of recognition for his contribution to the community.

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I was around to Bobby’s house shortly after he received his awards. A friend shared that Bobby had cried after realizing he had been honoured.

Nice to see tears of joy for a change.

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I asked Bobby to show me the birthday cards that had arrived in the mail. There was sure a whack of them. I set some up on his kitchen table and snapped a photo. Many of the cards — all of which had heartfelt messages — arrived with Tim Horton’s cash cards. Bobby revealed that he’s been using the cards.

One birthday card was from far away. “Look, here’s one from Australia!” I exclaimed. Bobby asked, “What’s that?” and so I explained, “Australia is on the other side of the world.” “Oh my,” he said.

I saw Bobby at few days later at a McDonalds on Roseberry Street. He was alone at a table, nursing a cup of coffee. I sat down beside him. “When are you leaving?” he asked, and I replied I’d be back in Alberta within a week. He shook my hand and said, “Have a safe trip.”


CARE TO CONTACT BOBBY?

For those who’d like to get in touch with Bobby Steeves, his snail-mail address: Basement Suite, 168 Lansdowne Street, Campbellton, New Brunswick E3N 2M9 CANADA.

Bobby was born on 29 June 1944 [source: birth certificate], so if birthday cards are your thing, there you go.

Note that Mr. Steeves does not have access to the Internet, nor does he have a computer. – Editor

80 thoughts on “The Knock-Out Punch

  1. Thank you for your article … nicely written!!

    I am so happy you took the time to share Bobby’s story with everyone.

    I hope more people do like you and make an effort to treat him with respect and kindness if they do happen to cross his path. Sometimes a free coffee, free meal, a Walmart gift card … or even just a ride somewhere makes a huge difference in someone’s life.

    I feel inspired by your article and I will take the time this year to start working on a Christmas basket for him.I will keep it in my car until I spot him in town and I encourage everyone to do the same.

    Imagine what would happen if everyone started this as a new trend!!??

    Together, we can make this Christmas for him a magical one.

    Thanks for sharing his life journey. Cheers!!

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  2. Very heartwarming! When I was a teenager, Bobby and his family moved in the side apartment in the house we lived in on SugarLoaf Street. My mother and father had great respect for Bobby … and especially my father Pat O’Connell would get very upset if he saw anyone being mean or calling Bobby names. My Mother — known as Tubby — was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to leave her job. My mother would often sit on our front porch chatting with Bobby. Mom liked his stories.

    I remember going home when my sister Darlene passed away and with my mother-in-law and her sister Francis Firth we went to MacDonalds for something to eat and Bobby was there. I went up and said hello, he remembered me as I had moved away in 1980 to Edmonton. He looked up and said you dyed your hair! I know you O’Connell girl, you are a red head!! He remembered my hair and my name.

    I asked him if I could sit and have a picture with him, at first he said no pictures, I joked with him and he agreed. I still have them and now he tells my mother-in-law, when he sees her, how is my girlfriend doing? Bless him.

    I never knew that story about the bad beating but I do remember there was Tasty Freeze across from our house and I remember seeing older guys, the ones who thought they were cool spitting in his hands and calling him names. I was young and never really knew what was happening, but I remember it well.

    Yes, he is a legend who would never hurt a soul.

    Reading this has brought tears to my eyes because I have to say when I was a young girl I never understood why he would wear dangling earrings and had a pair of pantyhose hung over his arm standing on the corner of SugarLoaf Street saying he was waiting for Roger to come and pick him up, as they were going to Montreal to get married! That made me laugh and yes I teased him, but if my mother or father ever heard me they would get upset, as they should have. So, yes, I am guilty of teasing him. I am sorry for that.

    Bobby is the hearts of many of us from Campbellton. I hope he lives to be 100 and that this Baboon has karma come his way — if it has not already, as it always comes back.

    Bobby is a legend in our small place called Campbellton. I am glad I had a chance to have my picture taken with him.

    Love your story!!

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  3. There are moments in life when time is interrupted. A stillness overpowers one and only memories surface of what was and could have been. The Bobby story is one of those moments, as I recall seeing Bobby and hearing of the “queer” he was.

    I too was born just outside Campbellton, and like Bobby knew I was different (gay), but unlike Bobby, fate would have it that I was brought up in a very sheltered environment, and so at the age of 13 was schooled far away from Campbellton so I did not risk the brutalities of a “Baboon”.

    However, the time I did spend in Campbellton as an adolescent was filled with fearful memories of encountering the same fate as Bobby. But for the grace of God there go I.

    The loneliness of it all is perhaps far worse that the physical and emotional blows. Thank you or sharing your well-written story, so that one’s life is never lived in vain.

    Like

  4. Wow, so heart-wrenching and touching.

    I did not know Mr. Steeves, but no one should ever have to go through what he did.

    With children of my own I cannot imagine the hurt his mom felt for her boy that had to endure this abusive treatment on a daily basis.

    My heart is broken for them both!

    Like

  5. All of us who grew up in Campbellton remember Bobby … a harmless person who was a victim of an unnecessary hate-crime.

    We are now in Ontario. I read the story word-for-word to my two children. Kids see the world differently these days.

    Thank you for sharing this amazing teaching opportunity.😊

    Like

  6. I was 11 years old in 1957 and imagine you or Bobby are about my age. I too went to Roseberry Street School, then to Lord Beaverbrook.

    I sort of recall your name and Bobby’s from back then.

    I don’t recall the incident you describe of Bobby getting bullied, but I did have a friend who around that age was always criticized for being gay. He was the same age as me and had died this past summer. He had gotten married and had a child. I always wondered how he managed to hide what he was like at that early age later on in his life.

    Do you recall me? Full name is Colin Robert Mann. I lived on Duncan Street up by Day’s store. I wonder how close you guys lived from myself.

    I was quite intrigued by your write-up.

    Bobby’s mother is in the same graveyard as my father. At that time, I chummed around with guys such as Kenny Day, Dennis Aucoin, David Dobson and Doug Sharp.

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  7. Thank you, Mr. Byron Christopher. Thank you very much for sharing and mostly for having taken the time to give Bobby the honours that he so deserves.

    The story brought up good memories of Campbellton back in 1976. I was 11 years old when I first talked to Bobby.

    I used to live on Victoria Street, not far from his home, and in the summer me and my younger sister got to see him often. He was very nice with us and always showed a big smile.

    I never saw anybody being abusive toward him but I remember feeling pity for him. Because he was different and alone, I guess. Now that I look back, he didn’t seem to be unhappy at all.

    And I’m sure glad that his differences made him famous.

    What I’m learning from your story is that we should never be ashamed of who we are no matter how obvious our differences are. Bobby is Bobby and this is how we should all be, ourselves.

    A great lesson of acceptance. Thanks again and thanks to Bobby Steeves.

    Like

  8. I grew up in Campbellton and knew Bobby Steeves since I was a child because he was a good friend of the family.

    I was told that he was a “queer” but it wasn’t a big thing. He was kind to everyone, treated everyone respectful and always had kind words.

    He never looked at life as hardship but always looked for the good in everything … and I am so very happy for him and proud to have him as my friend.

    Thank you Bobby for being my friend.

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  9. I regret the number of times I drove by Bobby when it was raining and I did not pick him up. I’m embarrased to say that and I regret it.

    I didn’t know he had so many friends.

    Your article woke me up.

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  10. I was deeply touched by this story.

    I was unaware that Bobby was still alive. Although I knew about him, I knew nothing of him.

    Being gay and living in Dalhousie, I know how it feels to be different and to being put aside by people one’s own age.

    Luckily I was never bullied to the extent that Bobby experienced. Nice to know that he made it through these difficult times.

    Thanks to the author for sharing this painful memory.

    Like

  11. I too remember Bobby from growing up in Campbellton in the Sixties and Seventies.

    I was always ashamed and felt bad for the way Bobby was treated — but i was also ashamed for the way I never stepped forward and tried to stop it.

    I hope he understands how many did really care.

    Thanks for a good story that brought back good and bad memories.

    Like

  12. I too was bullied as a child by a neighbourhood kid. He even knocked out my bottom teeth (permanent teeth) when I was 8 or 9 years old.

    He also pelted snowballs containing rocks at my head when I walked to catch the school bus, etc.

    Fortunately, my mom rushed me to the dentist who happened to be in his office doing paperwork (it was a Saturday afternoon) and Dentist Vautour (RIP) in Dalhousie replanted my four knocked out teeth and told me to eat soup and only soft food for a week or two until these teeth were ready for chewing real food.

    All but one tooth re-rooted and re-established a blood supply!

    I have never forgot the feeling of this assault/terror and those feelings came flooding back when I read about Bobby’s ordeal with Baboon the bully who beat and bloodied him while he innocently walked to school.

    I cried for Bobby and I guess for me too as these feelings
    /memories came flooding back like it happened yesterday! It has been 50 years since I was assaulted!

    I am so glad for reporters like you who bring these stories to life!

    My bully (KG) was never held accountable — and it was wrong on so many levels that he got away with this reprehensible act just the same as Baboon.

    Perhaps a book or movie could be made about Bobby’s life … as a lesson to bullies and silent bystanders everywhere.

    I lived and worked in Campbellton at the Soldiers’ Memorial and the Campbellton Regional Hospital from June 1978 to July 1997 and knew of Bobby Steeves but did not know how he had been bullied.

    Such a sad and heartbreaking story indeed.

    Thanks for sharing Bobby’s story.

    Like

  13. I read your article about Bobby and found it so uplifting. It made me think that there are still good people in the area.

    I was happy to read people take the time out of their day to talk with Bobby or buy him a coffee. I know how much that means to him when someone does just a little thing like saying ‘hi.’

    I worked at Kmart for years and I knew a lot of people but as life went on, I developed a decease called MS. I have slowly been withdrawing from society … but when I get out and someone comes up to me and says, “Hi how are you? … I haven’t seen you in awhile.” That makes my day because people actually remember me.

    So I am sure what is going to happen to Bobby in the next while is going to do wonders for his soul … and it is because of you getting the ball rolling with the article. I thank you for that.

    Like

  14. I am a very good friend of Bobby Steeves.

    I now live in Cabo, Mexico in the winter and in Sylvan Lake, Alberta in the summer but for the last two summers I have been in Campbellton and hoping to spend more time with my family, the Savoie’s.

    I love Bobby and he will always be my friend and always welcome to my house.

    I had a few beers with him this summer past. I saw him almost every day walking by Yvon and Brenda’s House on Duncan Street and we would invite him in for a drink and had a talk. I always enjoyed talking with him. He made me smile all day long.

    He was our sitter when we were in school and he would cook for us all and clean our house cause Mom and Dad were working so he was our Mom and Dad. Everyday he was there when we got home from school. When I say Mom and Dad I mean Marcel and Mommy Savoie.

    I am sure that everyone that knows Bobby knows my parents which we miss sooooo very much.

    This story moved me so much I am crying and I can’t stop. I defended Bobby always and I know of many that did the same. God Bless you. I know lots of people love him the way I do.

    So thank you very much for this beautiful story. I am printing it so I can read it when I am missing home and Bobby.

    God bless you all.

    Like

  15. This story made me cry. I remember Bobby well. I often gave money to him and told him to spend it on himself, not to give it away. I went after those who hit and teased him. That was so wrong, so wrong.

    Like

  16. I remember him well. I was born on June 11th, 1944 so that makes us about the same age.

    Have not heard anything about Bobby in a long long time so thank you very much for the story. Been away from Campbellton now for over 20 years but great to hear about people and things like this …

    Like

  17. Was talking to bobby today at Sobeys and I asked him if he had gotten some gift cards for Christmas in his mailbox. He got very excited [was bouncing with joy]; he also told me about the money raised for him.

    Some late happiness for the poor guy.

    I remember people being cruel to him, and it being totally acceptable to everyone [well, almost]. I also recall people chasing him with cars. Bad stuff.

    Too bad so many have to get old to develop some passion for the less fortunate. Ironically, Bobby Steeves was a doormat for many people’s inadequacies … all to boost their own self-esteem.

    Bobby’s hands are badly mangled now, but it doesn’t slow him down. Chirpy like a puppy, he was.

    Everyone remembers Bobby … but how many will remember us?

    Like

  18. It is difficult to imagine a time and place where it was socially acceptable to openly display such prejudices. But I too remember.

    Thanks for a well-written story! And for sharing Bobby’s true essence of being.

    Like

  19. I remember Bobby … always made me feel sad inside when people made fun of him.

    I’m very glad you shared he’s life story. Thank you.

    Like

  20. I remember bobby well. I also remember the teasing by the teenage boys. He would get mad and tell them off.

    I have been away for many years and I appreciate you doing a story on him. God bless Bobby and the city of Campbellton for being so kind to him now.

    Ignorance and bullying were a big part of his life.

    Like

  21. I knew Bobby all my life. He was harmless and so kind … he would not hurt anyone.

    I often saw men chase him but I was just a young child and I couldn’t understand why they would do that … but as I grew, I understood why he was so different. The men who tormented him didn’t know Bobby as a very kind soul.

    Bobby would never say a bad word to anyone — and he dearly loved his mother. She was a very poor woman, but such a loving person. She took in all the unwanted children and cared for them.

    I want to thank you so much for doing this article. People can now see Bobby as one of the kindest people around.

    Like

  22. The older generation in my family always referred to Mr Steeves with negative remarks. I was very young at the time but it never sat well with me.

    As time passed and I matured into adulthood it was only then I began to realize the negativity was based solely on their ignorance.

    I look back at those times as a sad reminder that in some ways the men we looked up to for strength and guidance were actually the weakest of all.

    Like

  23. It just goes to prove that there are still some great people in the world. Just a great story … too bad it hadn’t come out much sooner.

    God Bless you, Bobby.

    Like

  24. Such an extraordinary thing you have done. Atonement, to the extent it is due, is best when coming from within, and with no outward prompting.

    Like

  25. Love this story. Thank you for honoring this man who endured so much pain and abuse for just being different. Bobby is one of the people who always puts a smile on my face because he is always happy and kind.

    Like

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