Goodbye old friend….

| May 3, 2008

Nothing can be said about Bob Varley without recognizing first that he was an original. While it’s true that we are all unique, it’s safe to say that Bob was more unique than most. It didn’t matter what the event or occasion – no matter how grand or mundane – Bob did it just a little differently.

Bob loved to help, whether you wanted him to or not – it didn’t matter what the situation was – if you were moving to a new house, Bob was there with a handcart. If you needed a ride to the airport, Bob was there with his van (and inside that van was apparently every piece of paper Bob ever came across). And if you were planning a trip to Disney World and happened to mention that to Bob – then God help you. But that was Bob – your need was his need, your pain was his pain, your joy was his joy.

I had the pleasure of being Bob’s friend and co-worker for nearly a decade. It never failed to amaze me that a deli manager from Massachusetts could so effortlessly reinvent himself as a broadcaster, photographer, negotiator, pitchman and all around travel expert without ever breaking a sweat. For most, any one of those disciplines would be an overwhelming life change, but Bob embraced all of it with that seemingly endless supply of energy and good humor that was his hallmark.

Bob was there almost from the beginning of our web site – going from a small group of like minded Disney fans into a worldwide phenomenon that has helped millions of people from all around the world discover the joy of Disney – I can not imagine a job better suited to Bob – and I can tell you his presence and work are in equal measure – irreplaceable.

When word started to spread thru our community about Bob’s passing, something truly amazing happened. In the 11 years that I’ve worked on the web, I’ve never witnessed the kind of outpouring of grief and support that I saw among Bob’s legions of fans from around the world. And I do mean around the world – from Australia to Germany from the United Kingdom to South Africa, Bob’s managed to touch people regardless of the medium. His singular personality made it impossible not to love him – and the depth and sincerity of his heart were without equal.

If we can step back from our grief just long enough, I think there are many things we can learn from the life Bob led. He was preemptively thoughtful. Always carrying two umbrellas on his cart, just in case. The word ‘stranger’ was not in his vocabulary – he greeted everyone he met as though they were a lifelong friend. Bob was incapable of pretense in any form. No matter the circumstance or the occasion, Bob was always unapologetically Bob. Bob was not afraid to laugh at himself – but he was loath to laugh at others. Whether he knew you only 10 minutes or 10 years – if you were in need, and he could help – there he was. But better still was that he never expected anything in return. He did what so few are truly capable of and gave of himself with a pure heart. Maybe that’s why so many people were drawn to him – down deep, we really wanted to be more like him – just without the boot, the cart and the Boston accent.

When I think of all the people that have come in and out of my life over the years, I realize how truly special Bob was. It’s hard to imagine what life will be like without him. When my father passed away there was a saying on his prayer card that went “As long as I have the love of each of you, I can live my life in the hearts of all of you”. As I believe that about my father, I also believe it true about Bob. We will miss him – make no mistake, but we dishonor him if we spend too much time in our grief. Bob was not one for self pity. He held his cherished memories close to his heart, gathered his grief and sadness and using the love of those around him as his beacon – he continued on with his adventure. Stronger for the experience, wiser for having been vulnerable enough to love so deeply in the first place.

If greatness is measured by wealth or power, then I guess Bob wasn’t’ a great man. But If greatness can be measured by the grief displayed at someone’s passing , if greatness is measured by the impact someone had on seemingly distant and unrelated people, then Bob was a great man. And if greatness is measured by a persons ability to show unconditional love to another regardless of circumstance or measure, without thought of oneself, – then Bob Varley was an icon.

I will miss my friend – I will miss him every day for the rest of my life – but in missing him I will celebrate him, learn from him and remain forever grateful that God was so kind as to bring a man like Bob Varley into my life.

Goodbye old friend.

Category: Disney World

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  • happy2go2wdwmom

    This is beautiful.

  • firemanx

    Pete that was an amazing post for someone who has lost someone so dear to there heart. Bawb you will always be missed.

  • cocowum

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful eulogy.

  • miss missy

    Oh Pete that was sooo perfectly Bob.

    —->”Maybe that’s why so many people were drawn to him – down deep, we really wanted to be more like him – just without the boot, the cart and the Boston accent.” <—–when I think of Bob, this is what comes to mind. I do talk like him :) being from Boston, but I so long to be as kind and caring and compassionate to others as Bob was. Yes, I think you got it right on here! We are drawn to what we saw in Bob wishing we were even a piece of that ourselves.

    Your words were so touching. So true and so heartfelt. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I know Bob knew what great friends he had in you all. He knows he was loved. Anyone would be blessed to have a friend like you… Bob was

  • calypso

    You know, that Bob was a pretty smart guy to surround himself with such a wonderful group of friends. ;)

    Thank you for sharing this…it helps those of us that could not be there.

  • Tonya2426

    Very eloquent. Thank you for sharing.

  • checkwriter

    Touching and humorous. Thank you for posting it. What a special guy!

  • quietgirll

    Absolutely perfect….beautiful, touching, amusing…thank you for sharing this with us.

  • klam_chowder

    Pete, that was beautiful and perfect. Moving and humorous, it will help others with closure. Best to you all.

  • kab407

    I don’t think anyone could have spoke truer words . Thank you Pete.

  • mommyceratops

    Pete – you said it beautifully with honor, love.

    Thank you for sharing with us…I think everyone was drawn because Bob had something we wish we could all be like.

    Bob’s life a wonderful thing to celebrate, and there are many ways we can all honor him everyday.

    Perhaps you could try it by dressing like him everyday? ;) I guess his style is something no one else could pull of?

    Thank you Pete.

  • cslittle999

    Beautiful word Pete. Thank you for sharing. Bob was truly one of the great ones.

  • UrsulasShadow

    Thank you so much, Pete.

  • disneybridein2k3

    Pete, you have a wonderful way with words. I’ll bet Bob would be proud. So very beautiful – you brought out the very essence of Bob. What was so great about him was his kind heart and you the stories you told were very telling of that. Thanks so much for sharing your eulogy with us.

  • annette_va

    Pete, thank you so much for sharing this with us. You did a fabulous, beautiful job honoring Bob.

  • two-foxes


    How difficult it must be to write words about the love for another friend, but I believe you did an amazing job.

    I would like to say thank you to the Varleys and Bob’s closest friends for allowing us, who only knew such a small part of Bob’s huge life, to share in the grieving process and being so sharing and open in such a difficult time.

  • smphbear

    Pete, you did a beautiful job putting into words how you felt about Bob. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  • Cyrano

    Lovely words.
    Perfect thoughts to celebrate Bob’s life and manner.

  • BillM99999

    Beautiful, Pete. A very touching tribute to a man who touched so many.

  • TSWJan78

    Thank you for giving us the honor of reading your words… I can only begin to image how difficult that was for you but as I read I heard your voice and what you said was perfect. Bawb would be proud!!

  • rlduvall

    Thank you so much for allowing us to be part of the grieving process. I have outwardly mourned from the moment I read the news of his passing. Your eloquence and ability to articulate it is comforting to all of us.

  • daneenm

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this, Pete.

  • elemusing

    Thank you for allowing us to share that with you, Pete.

  • timon

    Well written Pete. He was a smart man to surround himself with such great gifts of friends.

  • LovesThumper

    It shows how lucky we are for having wonderful people in our lives and for the opportunity it gives us to share what we are given. Thanks Pete for those beautiful words.

  • tinkbutt

    Very beautiful words thank you for sharing them with us!

  • parrotheadlois

    thanks Pete, I’m so sorry I’ll never get to meet him, never get to look at every ECV in the parks and think “is that Bob?” so sad

  • tonyadenmark

    I am still in shock and can’t imagine how you must be feeling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings of your friend who not only was larger than life, touched so many of our lives. His contributions to this world cannot be measured and will be missed.


    Very poignant eulogy, Pete. You’ve made Bawb proud.

  • Fredds Girl

    Thank you for sharing that with all of us that could not be there to grieve with you.

  • DVCsince02

    Thank you for continuing to share these events with us. I am truely touched by your heartfelt words.
    Hugs to you and everyone touched by Bawb.

  • LilGMom

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us. And thank you for sharing your dear friend with so many people.

  • DisneyCruise05

    What a beautiful eulogy, Pete. Thank you for sharing it with us. As many of us have stated, most of us didn’t know Bawb personally. However, I want to thank you for including us. Even though I never had the honor of meeting Bawb, I felt like I had known him for years. I’m so sorry for your loss of such a great friend. Your words really are special.

  • hayanyujah847

    You always have an amazing way of putting things into words and this was no exception. I do thank you for sharing this with us.

  • ihearttink04

    Amazingly put. I’m so proud and honored to be a part of this community. I know Bob is too.

  • Roxy217

    Pete, You are an amazing friend. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful tribute to a man we all have come to know and love. I wrote in a previous e-mail that meeting Kevin, John & Bob at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Animal Kingdom was my family’s “Year of a Million Dreams” experience not knowing just how true this statement would become. We only met for a moment and were able to take a photograph that will truely become a treasure in our family memory book. I wish that I could give you all a big hug and wipe your sorrow away. Know that we are praying of Bob’s family & the Podcast crew and always remember you all have a “family” in Dumont that loves you.
    “Anthony’s Mom”

  • maiziezoe


    Just like Bob’s life.

    We’ll miss you, Bob.

  • DVC Kathy

    Thank you Pete. A beautifully written tribute for a wonderful man.

    It makes me smile while I blink away the tears.


  • mla973

    What a great summary, Pete. I, too, feel Bob was a icon. He represented the best of all of us. He will be missed.

  • trivial

    Lovely, Pete. I’ve learned so much about Bob since his passing, and the more I learn, the more I mourn in my own little way. And I didn’t even know Bob – I’ve been listening to the DIS Unplugged for less than 2 months – so I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for those who were close to him. It says a great deal that so many have been so deeply affected.

  • DebbieT11

    Great job, Pete. Thanks for slapping the words on what I’ve been feeling…. Bob Varley, godspeed.

  • burberryplaid

    My thoughts and prayers are with you all. I know that this has affected you all greatly. Our community is a little less bright without Bob, but in having had known him, we are all a little brighter inside. Take care of yourselves.

  • creativeamanda

    This is so beautiful. I can’t imagine how all of you feel to have lost such a wonderful friend.

  • Sharon Seattle

    Pete, such wonderful words about a wonderful person. Bob was such a special guy. I truly feel that I knew him as I know all of you. My heart is breaking and I still cannot talk about Bob without getting emotional.

    Our prayers are with you all we look forward to meeting you all at the Cruise next year so that we can toast to Bob. (maybe with a Dole Whip) I know he would like that.

    God Bless you all.