Obituary of Bob Prestage
Robert "Bob" Abraham Prestage
(May 11, 1936 - April 22, 2022)
Bob was born May 11, 1936 in London, Ontario to Laura and Abraham (Paddy) Prestage. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 22, 2022 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose, at the age of 85 years.
Bob is survived by his bride Margaret, of 63 years; daughter Colleen (the late Jim Johnstone) of Tiny, Ontario, and grandchildren Takara (RJ Seelen) and Colton; son Wayne (Donna) of Camrose, grandchildren Janel, Chelsey, Taryn (Dallas Bergstrom) and great-grandson Mason; daughter Kelly (Dale McIsaac) of Leduc, granddaughter Kenzie (Jonathan Goofers) great-grandson Cole, and grandson Brett.
Bob grew up in London, Ontario where he attended Medway High. He enjoyed playing on the high school football team, however, his real passion was discovered at the Medway High School 4-H beef club. The 4-H beef club was offered by the agricultural teacher where the members drew lots to purchase a Hereford calf.
Not to be outdone, Arva-area beef farmer Alex Edwards encouraged Bob to also use an Angus calf for his 4-H project. Both of Bob’s 4-H projects were champions and both were eligible to participate in the Queen’s Guineas’ competition at the Royal Winter Fair that year. There was no rule in place that prevented Bob from showing both calves, but by the next year (1953), the rules had been changed so that a 4-H member could exhibit only one 4-H project.
His Angus steer won its class and was Reserve Champion selling for $1 a pound. With his cheque, Bob purchased two Angus cows for $650. Since one of these cows had a strong pedigree, he was offered $650 for her. Now Bob owned one cow and still had his original $650. This would be the beginning of a long and successful agricultural business career.
In 1955 he started his journey at the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph. He was on a first name basis with the dean of the dormitory and eventually, Bob was moved to be the deans neighbour across the hall. As one school mate said, “Bob attended”. The Aggies were well known for their practical joking around campus and Bob didn’t miss any of those meetings. Whenever he would tell his college day stories, he was always laughing and crying so hard he had to wipe tears away. One of the favourites was a story of him and a friend adding two fertilizer eggs out of the incubator into the large bowl of hard-boiled eggs in the cafeteria. Off in the back corner they sat watching and waiting until a big Dutchman grabbed two eggs… and you can guess how that story ended.
In 1963, the Prestage family of four (Bob, Margaret, Colleen and Wayne) were Alberta-bound. Bob went to work for Byers Flour Mill. In 1964, he bought a half section of land Southeast of Camrose where he began growing crops. Working alongside Wilbur McBain and Hurlburt Farms, crops were seeded and harvested. In September of 1965, Bob was involved in a bad car accident where he unfortunately broke his right leg in three places. He spent several months in hospital. While in the hospital a visitor asked, “how are you doing Bob?” to which he replied, “I’ve broken my leg, the crop is under the snow and the wife is pregnant.” As a result, Kelly was welcomed into the world on a very frosty June morning. When he was finally allowed home, he laid in a hospital bed in the living room. There were doubts that he would walk again unassisted. Bob was then sent to a rehabilitation hospital for approximately six months. Being the stubborn man he was, there would be no stopping him. At first, he used a wheelchair to get around town, wearing out one set of the rubber tires. He transitioned to crutches…then a cane. Once he was walking again, he wanted to strengthen his leg so he bought a used bike and could be seen riding it all over town.
It was brought to his attention that there was a shortage of hockey referees and it was suggested he go out with the Camrose Vikings to skate. There began his 27 years of donning the black and white referee sweater. Over the years, he mentored and changed the life path of many young referees. This kept Bob busy during the winter and kept that leg growing stronger. During the summers, Bob got involved in umpiring baseball and fastball from 1966 to 1993. He was also involved in refereeing high school and college level football for ten years. One thing could be noted: when Bob was on the ice, the diamond or the field, his presence was respected and there was no mistaking his call.
In 1974, Bob accepted the General Manager position for Western Breeders in Balzac, just North of Calgary. He was given two years to move closer to Calgary. This is where he made one of the biggest mistakes in his life, as he packed the whole family into the car and off they went to find a house in Airdrie, Didsbury or Olds. It could have been better than the Taj Mahal, but upon getting back in the car, the kids would begin crying and ripping the houses apart. After looking at only five homes the family headed back to Camrose. The next thing we knew, he had quit his job to help build a house on the quarter section of land. Once the house was built, then began the building of the feedlot, then the fencing off of the land. This marked the beginning of Wicklow Angus. The family enjoyed living at the farm until 2001, before moving a quarter of a mile North to a new home on an acreage where he and Margaret still lived.
Bob was awarded recognition for his many and varied accomplishments in sports, community and agricultural areas. He was very proud but also humbled by this recognition. Bob always felt that the award was not his alone and gave credit to Margaret, as without her he would not have been able to accomplish what he did. He also gave recognition to his family, friends and mentors. Mentors was a very important word in Bob’s vocabulary and it showed throughout his life. He had many mentors as a child growing up and as an adult. Then he became a mentor to those he came in contact with whether through sports, 4-H, people getting into farming or cattle (especially the angus breed), politics, and so much more. Bob was a very intelligent man with such a broad expertise that he willingly shared with anyone who asked.
As Bob would say hanging up the phone, “Say hello to everyone and keep the shiny side up.”
A funeral service has taken place. A recording of the service can be found at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4lI_ovWw4E.
If family and friends so desire, memorial contributions in Bob's memory may be made to the Battle River Community Foundation: Bob and Margaret Prestage Family Fund, KidSport Camrose, Augustana Vikings Sports, or your community's agricultural society.