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Robert Neff

Robert Neff Spirit Award 2012Robert’s interest in volunteering began in coaching 43 years ago.  It continued at Lakehead University with swimming instruction for adult residents of the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital.  Because of his keen interest in history, he did freelance writing for Lakehead Living.  Robert served on the Board of Directors of the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society for 16 years and as President from 1986-1990.  He researched and authored extensive papers on Dr. T.S.T. Smellee and the Reverend Gron Morgan, published in the Museum Society “Paper and Records”, and for many years edited “Today in History”, a collection of historical happenings gleaned from the Chronicle Journal archives.  Robert began a volunteer project, “Faces in Focus” with Portrait Photographer Dennis Hill, which involved photographing and authoring short biographies of interesting individuals in all walks of life.  In 2004, Robert was named Honourary Life Member of the Society.  In 1996, Robert was recruited to volunteer with the Thunder Bay Special Olympics as a Track and Field Coach for athletes of all ages with intellectual disabilities.  He has been and continues to be involved with the Special Olympics locally, provincially and nationally for 22 years.  He is highly respected across Canada and in 2008 was named "Coach of the Year in Ontario”.  Robert volunteers with WesWay and is involved with the Sports Trivia Dinner, a fundraiser for the Catholic Development Centre.  Robert, through volunteering in his quiet intellectual manner, has endeared himself to thousands of individuals of all ages, in all walks of life in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Canada.