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Students UBC homeless guy "ChairBo"

Discussion in 'Employment and Students' started by onthefly, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. rila

    rila Guest

    Or to host a funeral?
  2. Adrian

    Adrian Guest

    The New Sub definitely needs a statue of him. He has spent around 12 hours a day every day for the past 15 years in the SUB. He's probably been in that place more than anyone ever. He deserves to be remembered in UBC's history somehow.
  3. Lindsay

    Lindsay Guest

    We need to do something!!!! I went to UBC for 6 years and saw him every day. He deserves to be remembered....what can we do???
  4. milquetoast

    milquetoast Senior Member


  5. milquetoast

    milquetoast Senior Member

    A bit of his background story (source: http://ubyssey.ca/news/travers-roy-wimble-1928-2012-778/):

    Travers Roy Wimble: 1928-2012
    By Justin McElroy & Laura Rodgers

    Travers Roy Wimble started almost every morning the same way.

    “I’d see him at McDonald’s, having a coffee,” says Michael Benz, a man who collects cans and bottles on UBC campus. “It was at about a quarter to six. And then at about 6:30, I’d catch him going back over to the Student Union Building.”

    Once inside, Wimble would sit down in a wide, square chair near the entrance to the south concourse—sandwiched innocuously between vending machines and the wall—and begin to read a newspaper.

    But last Thursday, when Wimble failed to appear, AMS janitor Tootsa Gheorgheos noticed immediately.

    “I was worried, because I saw in the last couple months that he was more pale than usual, and he was quite old,” she says.

    Later that morning, Gheorgheos learned why Wimble was not in his chair. The night before, he had collapsed near the corner of Wesbrook Mall and University Boulevard and when the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services reached Wimble, he had already passed away.

    Wimble was 83.

    Immediately, thousands of students began to pay respects to a man few knew but everyone saw.

    Some spoke to him for years without knowing his age or background. For most, even his name was a mystery. Some called him Santa—for his beard—or Abraham Lincoln, for his stoic presence: seated deep in the chair, like the memorial in Washington.

    Many called him Chairbo, or simply, “the man in the SUB.”

    But Travers was called “Travis” or “Trev” to friends, and treasured his privacy. In a span of nearly 25 years at UBC, he revealed little about himself. And yet a campus is mourning in a way he might not have expected.

    He didn’t have a home. But he had a community.

    * * *

    “I was thinking this story should have been written when he was alive, you know?” says Irfan Reayat, an AMS security guard who occasionally talked to Wimble.

    What we do know can be pieced together from the recollections of those that spoke with him often. Anthony Wheyne would talk to Wimble as he went back and forth to Wreck Beach. He says of the man, “He was a listener, which I think is one of his charming attributes.”

    Wimble was born in 1928 and grew up in Vancouver, raised by his mother.

    “I don’t know about other brothers and sisters,” Wheyne says. “He didn’t mention that, but I got the impression that times were sort of tough for him.”

    To make money as a kid during the Depression, Travers would ride on the bumpers of cars, helping drivers steer when visibility was low.

    “In those days [there were] major pollution problems, like fog so thick you can’t even [see],” Wheyne says. “Travis as a child used to ride on the bumpers of cars through Hastings Street, pointing out which way for the guy to steer, because you couldn’t drive through there some days.”

    Wimble told people that he served in the Korean War as an adult. He married and began raising a family. At one point, according to Wheyne, he worked in a laundromat.

    But he lost both his wife and daughter to accidents, incidents which those who knew Wimble say left him heartbroken.

    “I would say, ‘Trevor, God really loves you,’” a UBC Food Services worker told Global News.

    “And he said, ‘No, God doesn’t love me, because he took my wife and my daughter.’…It made him very sad.”

    * * *

    Wimble began sitting in the south concourse six years ago, but had been a daily visitor to the SUB since 2002, and UBC Security said he had been on campus for nearly 25 years.

    The university generally prevents homeless people from becoming regular patrons of any one place, but made an exception for Wimble.

    “At first, I asked, ‘Why do we allow him here?’” says Sindy Sohi, who became manager of SUB custodial services two years ago. “I was told that he was allowed to stay, that campus security was fine with him because he was so decent.”

    “When I came here I was told about [some homeless people] causing trouble,” says Shaun Wilson, AMS Security manager. “But we were told that he was fine, never causing trouble.”

    SUB staff would often give him leftover food at the end of the day, while some students would offer him food or change. Some jokingly referred to him as the guardian of the building—a description that wasn’t far off.

    Thomas Weidner, who has worked for the SUB proctor’s office for six years, says Wimble kept a benevolent eye on all that went on around him.

    “[He was] keeping an eye on the building, making sure nothing bad was going on,” says Weidner, a SUB supervisor who knew Wimble for the last six years. “He would give tips on people he saw coming into the building that he thought were shady-looking. He would let me know, or [let] security know, to watch that guy. There are people in the past we’ve had trouble with, [and] he would let us know right away.

    “Three years ago, there was a guy that came in and lit some microwaves on fire downstairs in the food service area. He saw him, and let us know who it was.”

    Wimble could be seen leaving the SUB each evening, but there is debate about where he finished his days. Some say he used to sleep near the Lutheran Campus Centre across from CIBC, others say he stayed closer to Alma, and others claim he was staying in a hotel downtown at the time of his death.

    It was one of those things he didn’t like to talk about. Wimble would be happy to talk with people in the SUB who engaged with him, but preferred to keep the conversation off of his personal life.

    “He had a sense of humour and it wasn’t too hard to get a chuckle or a laugh out of him,” Wheyne says, “[but] he told me he didn’t really discuss his life, he was a very sort of private, proud person and you just didn’t go there.”

    Though some tried.

    “I did try to be curious about who he is but he didn’t want us to find out,” Reayat says.

    “I wondered what he did, where he lived. He did say that he liked sitting here, that it was just like home to him, but he never discussed his past.

    “[But] even while commenting on…how difficult life can be sometimes, he always said you can take something positive from it.”

    * * *

    Despite Wimble’s age, his death on came as a shock to many who knew him. “I was shocked because…he didn’t seem to be sick or ill or [to have] any disease, ’cause he was walking fine, he never complained,” Reayat says.

    “He looked good right until the end, then just disappeared,” Wheyne says.

    Reports of Wimble’s death trickled in from unconfirmed sources beginning on February 8, and by February 10 his passing had been confirmed by the regional coroner’s office, and police notified his surviving kin.

    “Initial investigation suggests that [Wimble] died of natural causes,” says Corporal Robert Ploughman of the RCMP’s university detachment.

    “He was someone who was well-known to us all, and was a part of the university community.”

    David Pendlebury, the AMS Security employee who first confirmed Wimble’s death, was also saddened when he heard the news. “I’ve known Trevor for two and a half years, and talked to him quite a few times. I’m actually slightly devastated that he’s gone.

    “It’s going to be weird not seeing him there every day.”

    Within a day, the well-worn chair he used to sit in had become a sort of shrine, overflowing with flowers, candles, newspapers and heartfelt notes, paper cranes, cookies and five cups of coffee. Hundreds expressed their feelings on Facebook and Twitter, sharing anecdotes and the occasional nickname that had been thought up for the often-taciturn Wimble.

    One note read, “I’m sure you are a man full of stories to share, I wish I’d taken the opportunity to ask you about them. It’s funny how someone’s mere presence can connect and bring people together. You were part of our everyday atmosphere, and we will miss you in that chair of yours.”

    Another said simply, “You were cool, chair dude! We’ll remember you!”

    The flowers, cookies and candles won’t stay on the chair forever, but two UBC students, Erik MacKinnon and Paula Samper, have already begun to plan for a more lasting memorial for the much-beloved figure. They will ask AMS Council to dedicate a bench in his honour, and are also considering a plaque.

    Over the decades, without either side fully realizing it, a quiet respect had grown between Wimble and this campus. The flowers, notes, newspapers and food placed in front of his chair speak to a remarkable relationship.

    Or, as one note said simply: “He probably didn’t think he affected us. But he did.”

  6. KindleFlare

    KindleFlare New Member

    RIP, your presence is missed by many.
  7. milquetoast

    milquetoast Senior Member

    Saran wrap memorial mannequin of Travers Wimble.
  8. BCHizzle

    BCHizzle Guest

    It saddens me that all these images are broken links. The newer generation of UBC students won't even know ChairBo.

    RIP Trevor Roy Wimble 1928-2012



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