Today was my first day back at work at the L.A. Zoo after spending the past week fighting the flu, and the newsflash that greeted me upon my arrival did more to dampen my spirits than the last five days worth of rain combined.
Bob Wickham was dead, I was told. Killed in a hillside collapse that swept into his Woodland Hills home early Monday morning. I’d heard reports yesterday that told of an unidentified man who’d been entombed in four feet of mud and debris that surged into his home, but with few details revealed I had no idea it was Bob, someone who I personally knew and had worked with for several years.
Bob, 61, who retired in 1999 after almost 30 years as a computer programmer with the city of Los Angeles, supplied untold hours and energies as a dedicated volunteer with the Zoo’s Horticulture Division, and was a key player in the long accreditation process that resulted in the Zoo being designated and recognized by the American Association of Museums as a botanical gardens in 2002.
I’m basically speechless right now on a couple levels. It’s always a shock to be reminded that you just never know when it’s your time to go. And I’m all the more numbed by the fact that Bob’s tireless contributions on behalf of the Zoo and its botanical collection have come to an end far too soon.