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A tribute to Bob Doran

Last month the Island Bay Progressive League made a special tribute to the life of local resident and volunteer Bob Doran.

Bob was born on the 5th of November 1944 (Guy Fawkes Day) in Lower Hutt. He was the youngest of 5 children. The family moved to Richmond, Nelson when he was very young. He attended Waimea College, then a newly opened High School. His father had a garage called Waimea Motors and at one time was the Mayor of Richmond.

After college he went to Canterbury University from 1962 to 64 where he graduated with a BSc (Hons), 1st class. in mathematics. He then applied to and was accepted into Stanford University in California where he did a Masters degree in computer science between 1965 and 1967. There he met his wife, Joyce, who was working as the receptionist in the dept. In 1968 they went to the UK, where they married. Initially he was going to do a PhD but as there was no financial assistance for him through the Commonwealth, he took a job at City University as a lecturer, until 1970 when he and Joyce returned to NZ where he took up a senior lecturer position at Massey University in Palmerston North. In 1977 he left Massey with his wife and 2 children, born in PN, and returned to California where he got a job as a senior computer architect, in the Amdahl Corporation, which was eventually bought out by Fujitsu. It was the height of the Silicon Valley computer revolution. He stayed with Amdahl until 1982 when the family decided to once again return to NZ where Bob took up a position as Associate Professor in the newly established Computer Science Dept at Auckland University. In 1985 he became the Head of Dept and in 1992 was made a Professor at the age of 47. Bob remained associated with the Computer Science Dept until the end.

He was a person interested in such a variety of things, from the Muriel Fisher Reserve, across the road from our house, clearing it and marking out pathways and latterly taking people on walking tours through it, to hunting out every hot pool in NZ and every town that had a racecourse with a totalisator - an early way of computing the odds on horse racing bets.

He was a member of the Bromeliad Society and never went to a meeting without coming home with yet another bromeliad. He was interested in abutilons (chinese lantern plants) and obtained a licence to import some from California. He also liked origami and making things for his grandson, Alex, who lives next door.

He and Joyce were married for 50 years. During there years together they travelled a bit spending several months on sabbatical in Geneva He also had another stint in Lyon, France. There were a couple of trips to China, one as a thank you from a former student, and to some of the Pacific Islands, especially those that were French speaking so that he could practice his French even if his accent was not perfect.

He and Joyce also did many road trips around New Zealand as Bob always found interesting places to explore. Closer to home, Bob created a lovely garden which is now Joyce’s mission to keep up. In 2009 he was diagnosed with Large B-cell, Non Hodgkins lymphoma. He had two good remissions but in the end it beat him and he passed away on 13 October 2018. His family miss him terribly.

He was one of a kind.

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