Roger De Gaetano writes:
Uncle Bobby, as he was affectionately known to our family although of no relation, was for my late dad, George, immediate family.
Having known each other for over 70 years, they built an exceptional friendship second to none. Dad graduated in Law from the University of Malta, while uncle Bobby pursued his studies at Oxford University, returning here to graduate in 1951.
Father used to remark that Bob was a ‘walking encyclopaedia’. He would venture into any topic and unravel each subject while dad would listen attentively and finally intervene with a premeditated smile and twitch the moment with a fine line, which would make uncle Bob explode with laughter.
Back at St Edward’s College, he nicknamed dad ‘Gadovich’ , which was a corruption of the name ‘Ga’ for Gaetano and since they were reading Russian literature, he improvised and added the ‘dovich’ to it. When dad put the wheel aside, I would drive him to visit uncle Bob every Thursday and they would discuss endlessly current affairs, political issues, music and the sciences and would end up with father’s fine humouristic flair.
As the years rolled on, uncle Bob would visit him instead and they would consume each other’s spirits with immense delight and contentment – they were indeed inseparable.
When dad started sporting a walking stick, Bob once told him: “George, you finally look distinguished,” to which dad immediately replied: “Bob, I finally look extinguished.” And they would giggle incessantly.
The week after my father passed away, I visited uncle Bob, not to revive the consumption of spirits, but to console the gentlemen my dad cherished for decades.
He was immensely devastated. Bob had lost his wonderful wife May a few years earlier but with the immense support of all his wonderful dedicated children he strode on. He was so extremely well read that his own knowledge entertained him gratifyingly.
Father used to remark: “You will never tire from listening to him talking, he is a fountain of joy, inspiration and knowledge.” I am positive that now, once uncle Bob joined dad, he will once again be exposed to dad’s eternal humour (if the Good Lord will allow it).
Dr Robert Staines will be immensely missed by all who enjoyed and learned from his insatiable knowledge, his wonderful, cheerful company and Edwardian (College) upbringing.
Adieu uncle Bob. Sincere condolences to all his caring children and their families and his loved ones.