About 1,300 people attended a celebration of the lives of Joe, Anita and Laura Robertson at Brock University today. The three family members were killed less than two weeks ago when their small plane crashed in Maine.
The funeral was held in an auditorium at Brock University because the family has strong connections to the school. Joe spent several years on the board, Anita was a volunteer, and their 24-year-old daughter Laura had just accepted a job there.
The family spent two hours greeting well wishers before the celebration, and when the funeral began we were told we wouldn’t hear about all the good works the family did in the community. They wanted to share stories. We heard from family friends and close family members, including the family’s two surviving children, Laura’s older brothers Clark and Taylor, who gave heart-wrenching eulogies about their loss.
Joe and Anita Robertson were both 58 years old when they died. They moved to the Niagara area from the Ottawa Valley in 1989 when Joe bought a dental supply business. When he sold that business years later, he and Anita became extremely active community volunteers. “Brave” was the word most often used to describe 24-year-old Laura, she was always trying to improve herself and get out of her comfort zone. She attended UBC and started doing lumberjack competitions. Back home in Niagara, she had just become a volunteer firefighter, even though she was claustrophobic and afraid of fire.
Joe Robertson was reportedly a safe and careful pilot. He was flying his family from their cottage near Pembroke to Charlottetown PEI for vacation. Shortly before the plane crashed near Greenville, Maine, he alerted air traffic controllers that his plane had lost power. He tried to make an emergency landing. The US National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating.
We heard that this was a family that lived their best lives. They liked to laugh and they liked sing-a-longs, and there were plenty of those along with the tears at their funeral.