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He was our compass

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

There were few things one could find in which Bob Estabrook was not interested. Anyone who kept track of his thoughts through the weekly column, Perambulating, which he wrote for this newspaper for decades concluding with the Dec. 25, 2008, issue, knew he found the habits of his backyard squirrels equally as fascinating as the habits of world leaders. His curiosity was boundless, as was his taste for adventure. These characteristics helped define his legacy for all at this newspaper, and that legacy is felt profoundly by all this week as we report on his death, and his life.

Bob cared deeply about the community in which he lived, and therefore cared just as deeply about the community weekly newspapers he guided through all sorts of times since 1970. When he and his bride, as he always called her, Mary Lou, first arrived in the Northwest Corner from Washington, D.C., he did not know all there was to know about country living. But he brought with him not only the years as editorial page editor at the Washington Post, but also his love of a small community around his grandparents’ lakeside cottage in Michigan, which led him to start up his first (mimeographed, if you can imagine) newspaper as a boy. He was ever one to use his time constructively. He and Mary Lou took to country life, and really understood it, in a way that may have surprised even them.

There are so many whose lives were touched by Bob, many of whom will be writing their thoughts about him for this newspaper next week. He was a world traveler who took the time to get to know the people and customs in each place he visited, but who would also take the time to have a conversation with any of his neighbors at the post office or the supermarket. After the death of Mary Lou, he found it within himself to take one more overseas trip, traveling to Europe on his own at the age of 91. Bob was a man who did not wish to let life pass him by, who lived it to the fullest for all his 93 years, yet when it came time to let it go he knew it.

His wisdom and kindness will be remembered by all at his beloved Lakeville Journal for many years to come.