January 3, 2024
Remembering Bob Tubby
By Tony DiGiovanni

Robert (Bob) Tubby, a long-time contributor and past president of Landscape Ontario, passed away on Oct. 15, 2023. Bob was one of those rare individuals who exudes light, positivity and goodwill in every experience and every relationship. In the 48 years of our friendship, I have never heard one negative comment about Bob. He was a man of integrity and honesty. He was a man you could trust unequivocally.

I first met Bob and his wife Mitzi in 1975, when all three of us were enrolled in the Landscape Technology Program at Humber College. I observed the wonderful romance brewing between Bob and Mitzi. My wife Maxine and I attended their wedding in Ottawa, Ont. Their marriage was a blessing.

Even as a student, Bob was conscientious and positive. I remember his excitement at purchasing a very large and comprehensive landscape construction textbook. He enthusiastically organized study groups. Bob was also an excellent hockey player and golfer. He loved running. He was athletic.

After graduation (if my memory is correct), he worked briefly at a landscape architecture firm. Shortly thereafter, Mitzi and Bob managed a nursery and landscape supply business. I remember visiting them when they lived above the garage on the nursery property. After the nursery job, Bob started Arbordale Landscaping.

He purchased a customer list from a company started by a fellow graduate and grew Arbordale into one of the most prosperous and highly regarded firms in the industry. Bob was detail-oriented and loved the finance side of business. A few years later, he started Moonstruck Lighting and again worked his magic formula for success. I would describe the formula as something like this: integrity + trustworthiness + value + honesty + goodwill + caring for employees, customers and suppliers + character + skill = success. Many companies experience great difficulty retaining employees. Not Arbordale. The staff was excellent and loyal.

Bob was first and foremost a family man. He cared deeply about Mitzi and his children Shannon, Blake, Kurtis and Geneva, and his grandchildren and extended family. He was so proud and grateful for them all. If you wanted to schedule a meeting with Bob, it could not interfere with his and Mitzi’s date night. We were blessed that he shared the family ethic with his industry family. Bob was a contributor by nature. He was always ready to mentor others and share his financial knowledge.

Bob was a lifelong contributor to Landscape Ontario. He served on many committees. He was elected president of the Toronto Chapter and soon after that (2006-2007) served as president of the association. During his presidency, Bob noticed that many companies were working very hard for little profit and decided to do something about it. He created a prosperity task force with the goal of developing a common chart of accounts in order to better track profitability. This eventually became LO’s Prosperity Partners program. It focused on helping members thrive. Bob also shared his financial acumen with students at Humber College. He taught the estimating course for years, mentoring an entire generation of new landscape professionals.

Bob was a mentor by nature. Along with many others, Bob encouraged and nurtured Lindsay Drake Nightingale, who recently concluded her term as president of Landscape Ontario, in her professional journey.

One of the highlights of Bob’s presidency was bestowing Honorary Life Member awards on John Wright and Paul Olsen. It was an emotional experience as their sons, Dave Wright and Jeff Olsen, participated in the ceremony. Family transcends business. In 2016 Bob received his own Honorary Life Member award. It was another emotional and memorable family experience, with tears of appreciation.

At the presentation, LO past president Gerald Boot said, “On the Arbordale and Moonstruck website it says that their vision was to build a quality landscape firm based on a foundation of integrity, value and service. Many websites say the same thing. However, in Bob’s case the foundation of integrity, value, service, trust, contribution, leadership and care defines his character as well as his business.

"Bob was one of those people others aspire to become. He was a smart and respected businessman with a sense of mission and purpose that goes beyond business. He was focused on making the lives of those around him better. Bob was also humble, thoughtful and fun. He elevated the membership by being who he was and what he stood for.

"I always enjoyed a personal conversation and discussion in a meeting with Bob in the room. He had an ability to articulate his opinion extremely well — an opinion that was always highly respected.”

At his Honorary Life Member award presentation, Jacki Hart said, “Bob has spent a lifetime serving on many committees and boards of Landscape Ontario dedicating thousands of hours to our organization and industry.

"His daughter Geneva once asked him why he dedicated so much of his free time (of which he had so little) to Landscape Ontario. He responded, 'because of the importance of the industry as a whole and the necessity to improve standards and industry practices together.'

"His vision of Landscape Ontario was an organization that brought together like-minded, contribution-oriented individuals focused on helping each other prosper — financially, socially and professionally.

"His greatest achievement as president was the development of the Prosperity Partners concept, which has left a legacy of benefit and goodwill to this day. Bob's selfless vision and perseverance provided the leadership and momentum to create a lasting legacy.

"One of the most special career accomplishments we can aspire to is to be a highly respected mentor to your peers. Bob’s passion and vision for supporting the success of his LO community is simply second to none, and embodies our association's values of creating a community for mutual improvement that is respected, prosperous and ethical.”

Bob also had a spiritual side. He was a seeker. One day, I anonymously received a video called "The Law of Attraction." The theme of the video was that positive thoughts attract other positive thoughts. I knew immediately that Bob sent the video. Bob’s positive thoughts about his family, his friends and even those he did not know will leave a legacy of light that will live on in all those fortunate enough to have known him.

About 14 years ago Bob developed Parkinson's. He was a fighter to the end. Assisted by Mitzi and his family, Bob did what was needed to ensure a smooth succession. He tried the latest medical treatments. As the disease became worse he still volunteered with LO. One day he called me to ask if I could drive him to a Highway of Heroes tree planting event. He volunteered to revive St. James Park in Toronto. He was on the LO Building and Communications committees until the end. When he could no longer attend meetings he would send helpful comments. He was always a mentor and contributor.

One day I anonymously sent Bob a book called Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. He guessed it was from me. The book suggests that no matter how bad circumstances get, we always have the freedom to choose our attitude and response. Bob chose love, he chose responsibility, he chose encouragement and he chose dignity. He chose to leave a legacy that will continue to make the world a better place through all of us whom he inspired.