A Tribute to Bobal -- By Giraffer and Shipscript
eBay lost a beloved Community member this week -- our dear friend Bobal. If you've been to an eBay Live (any of them but the very last one in Chicago), or if you've ever sought expert help on the Photos/HTML Discussion forum, then Bobal needs no introduction to you. From his ubiquitous "bull" icon signature -- to his one-of-a-kind eBay uniform which he wore proudly as he wheeled around his favorite eBay Live conferences -- to his dedication to helping others, Bobal was a stand-out. He epitomized the barn-raising type of generosity that made eBay's Community so special.
It's been said you can really know a man through his friends. I leave you now with this tribute from two of Bobal's closest eBay friends -- giraffer and shipscript. On behalf of all the staff here at eBay, our hearts and prayers go out to Alice, Bobal's devoted wife. We thank you, too, for helping Bobal help so many others over the years.
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Last Sunday, eBay lost a pioneer Community member and its most colorful legendary figure - known to many as simply Bobal. At 5:06AM on Oct. 26, 2008, after a two-month battle with cancer, Robert E. Bull quietly slipped away when his wife Alice released his hand and his grip on this material world.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis, emphysema, and diabetes, attached to an oxygen hose, and navigating a motorized chair with only one eye could be daunting for many, and it was indeed a life-changing challenge for Bobal years ago. However, he credited eBay with lifting him from his morose existence by providing him a new purpose and new lease on life. You can read his words here:
Bobal became an eBay member on April 21, 1998, learned buying and selling, and quickly realized what a fantastic venue this afforded people with disabilities. He soon discovered eBay’s help forums, where other new members were struggling to learn eBay, and he has been answering questions and helping members ever since. His warm and friendly style set the tone on the forums where he seemed to be available any time of day or night, every day of the year.
That dedication and generosity didn’t go unnoticed by eBay staff. Because of his commitment to helping fellow members, Meg Whitman presented him with the Community Hall of Fame Award in 2002 in Anaheim, California.
And Alice remembers how extremely proud, amazed, and humbled Bob was that a farm boy from Jamestown, New York could get a chance to make a difference in so many lives across the globe. (Read a 2004 Chatter newsletter article about Bobal's accomplishments.)
Bobal’s favorite hangout was eBay’s Photos & HTML forum, where Bob’s Tips are the defacto help pages for new sellers: http://www.bulls2.com/indexb/bobstips22.html He also hopped around to many other forums, such as the eBay Live Board where he answered questions and helped people get to eBay Live each year. Bob loved to have fun, enjoyed meeting people, and encouraged members to join him at the annual Live events where he, with his wife Alice, could be spotted from across the exhibit hall wearing outrageously bold outfits, holding court among a knot of admirers.
Photo left: eBay Live 2007 Boston. Bob with wife Alice (the "Al" in "BobAl"), daughters Cheryl and Barbi
Photo left: eBay Live 2006 Las Vegas. Bob with daughter Barbi and granddaughter Brandi
Bobal was a man full of patience, honesty, humor, and caring, with a love for helping others. Bob frequently commented that the eBay Community was “the fuel I need to keep my fire going each day”. He was rarely seen or encountered without a smile on his face and a warm welcome in his voice, whether meeting in person or chatting on the forums.
We'd like to share some comments posted on the forums by other members.
nates_tips from the Photo/HTML Board ---
“When I first came to eBay, I had no clue where to start, and I didn't even know what templates were. I was literally clueless about eBay, and about computers. I stumbled across the eBay forums, and I found myself on the Photo/HTML board. I asked a question, and within minutes, this guy with a bull thingy responded. You gave a link to your help pages, and within a couple of weeks, I had read every single page on your website.
“Honestly, your help pages helped me get started on eBay. If it wasn't for your help, I don't know where I'd be. After getting a good understanding of things through asking questions, trials and errors, I decided to start posting on the eBay boards. I sorta had a newbie type idea, and had a million links to other sites that I couldn't vouch for. You kindly emailed me and gave some advice on what I could do to be of better help, etc.
“You had and still do, have an influence on the way I post on the boards. You have always been kind, helpful, full of joy, and never posted in a negative way, ever. You have set the path for me and others to follow.”
kaleidowonders from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Thanks so much for all the help you didn't even realize you gave me. I've used your tips to learn some basic html, and as a nice safety net. Always knowing that I could come back here and reference your easy to follow info.
“No doubt there are countless others like me who have silently benefited from your hours of work and generosity. And many of them may not get the word to come here and acknowledge your help. So I just hope that you realize you have touched many lives and businesses with your generous spirit!”
purpleferret999 from Canada Town Square Board eBay.ca --
purpleferret999 from Canada Town Square Board eBay.ca --
“A dear man that I am proud to say taught me html and I was thrilled to have met him.”
thevintagezone1 from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Bob, I am sure you don't remember me but you have helped me soooo many times. I could never have worked from home if you had not been here with your advice and knowledge. I have been able to make a living and raise my son (that has autism) without having to leave him with a baby sitter when he was little. I can't thank you enough for the help that I have received from your emails, posts and links. You made a DIFFERENCE in our lives....Much love, Rebecca”
shipscript from Photo/HTML Board ---
“Bob, this may be changing from a 'thread of hope' to a 'goodbye thread'. And yet, it will still remain a thread of optimism and inspiration to so many because of your phenomenal legacy.
”You have uplifted and expanded the lives of many who just needed to see from your example that it is possible to live with untold adversity and to succeed in a special way. You have reached outside of your own personal limitations to enrich the lives of so many, and you have done that with grace and with a special kindness toward those you help. Your friends and admirers are more numerous than you can possibly know, and even when you move on, you will still be winning new friends and admirers. Your journey has been, and will continue to be, a noble one.”
The eBay forums are buzzing with memorial posts from community members remembering Bobal, as can be seen in these few examples:
Canada Town Square: http://forums.ebay.ca/thread.jspa?threadID=500036630&tstart=0
How can we remember Bobal and honor his legacy? Several charities were mentioned (Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and Cancer research) for those who would like to make a contribution directly or through eBay’s Giving Works. But Bobal was an ardent believer in “paying it forward” and spoke of this with his wife and friends. Many of us have been helped by Bobal at one point or another, and one of the finest tributes each of us could make is to pass along his patience, honesty, and overflowing kindness when helping others. Pay it forward for Bobal.
Rest In Peace, dear friend.
Bob’s remains have been donated to the Arizona State Medical Center in Tucson for disease research and the family will forego a funeral or memorial service. Notes may be sent through eBay’s contact system to Bobal. To send cards or letters (no flowers please), please see the Photo/HTML forum for information. Bobal would also approve of using eBay’s Giving Works to send anonymous donations in his memory to any charity of your choice.
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