Ponoka firefighter answers last call with celebration of life

Ponoka volunteer firefighter Bob Sorensen lived his final days as he had always done, with honour.

He lived his final years, weeks and days as he had always done — with honour, pride and integrity.

Bob Sorensen succumbed to his five year long battle with cancer after doctors said he only had six months to live on May 28. A celebration of his life was held June 4, complete with a full traditional firefighter funeral.

Born Robert John Wayne on Aug. 30, 1956 in Edmonton, Bob would later be adopted following the marriage of Bob’s mother Betty to Knud Sorensen.

It wasn’t long after that, when Sorensen’s journey to Ponoka began as the family moved to Red Deer where he would meet his future wife Cindy in high school. The pair married in 1976.

“We were total opposites, but we both needed that for balance,” said Cindy.

“He was a perfectionist and was always helping others. I’m not sure why he became a firefighter, though it wasn’t a surprise and once you get that bug.”

From the list of exactly how things had to be placed and done in order when going camping to the immaculate garage — complete with a fence around his convertible and balls hanging on strings so the vehicles would be parked right where they were supposed to be — Bob had a standard for everything — High.

“Even in his final couple weeks as he was sick, I wasn’t following his list at the campground and he was complaining I was back tracking,” said Cindy.

“I needed to get his oxygen set up so I told him, ‘I can’t have you not breathing.’”

Sorensen also carried that personality into his work as a journeyman plumber, starting in 1987 in Red Deer before getting a job at then Alberta Hospital in Ponoka, and in his life as a volunteer firefighter after joining the Ponoka Fire Department in 1993.

“He got one evaluation at the hospital that criticized his standards as too high and unreachable by anyone, so he filed a grievance because he felt he shouldn’t have to lower his standards,” she said.

“And it was the same at the fire hall, because the fire was over three hours ago and he still wasn’t home because the hoses and trucks and everything had to be clean and in order. Bob was pretty much black and white with no real grey areas.

“It was the way he always was — there was a right way, a wrong way and Bob’s way.”

Sorensen’s community involvement didn’t end with the fire department, where he spent 21 years and rose to the rank of captain. He was also part of the Ponoka Citizens Patrol and a contributing member of the Gold Wing Touring Association, plus a great supporter of the local motorcycle community.

When Sorensen was diagnosed with cancer, doctors gave him just six months to live.

Bob kept life as always though — taking trips with the family, maintaining his relationship with the fire department by showing up at practice and participating in the ball hockey ‘BS to Cancer’ fundraisers that were held on his behalf.

“He just enjoyed life as ever, worrying about others, but being anonymous and not taking credit for stuff,” Cindy said.

And he left just like he lived — ‘Thanks so much, I’m just going to go now.’

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