Doug Ainslie

I have just learned of the tragic passing of Rob. I know everyone who knew him will be feeling this loss for a long time, and justifiably so.

I always admired Rob and will never forget the day we met.

All the CAs were corralled into a “meet the senior partners” lunch at Katy’s Palace. Good food, but an epic set up for awkward encounters. One of which I had with Rob, but it always brings a smile to my face.

As predicted, a small, but tightly spaced circle of nervous CAs had formed, clutching free drinks, avoiding any potential CLMs (‘career limiting moves’, in case your CA days are too far behind you to recall the acronym). A very dapper, very tall gentleman, wearing I believe a white fedora ambled his way into a gap and tried to make conversation with a few nearby CAs. None were having it and sought exits as soon as good manners allowed.

I thought (perhaps buoyed by my second free beer) that I should make the most of the day and tried to strike up a conversation with the be-hatted gentleman. I introduced myself and stuck out my hand and received a gracious and firm handshake. He introduced himself simply as ‘Rob’. In my nervousness to find something to talk about I quickly formed the view that since I was already almost a year into my articles, and would surely have seen this gent around the hallways, he must have come up from the Cape Town office for the lunch, and confidently asserted as much, adding (as evidence) that I’d never seen him around. To which Rob, in his disarming way, leaned his imposing height over my 5ft8 head and stated calmly, “Oh, no. I’m the chairman of the firm. I’ve been in my office a lot lately I guess.” At which point I took the lessons of my comrades, spluttered some goodbye and excused myself to the bar to drown my embarrassment.

Despite my bumblings Rob was always friendly to me, and when we bumped into each other at events after I’d left the firm would always give me the same gracious firm handshake and chat about where I was and how the firm was doing.

My condolences to you, and everyone at Bowmans.