For me, one of Bob’s key messages was that anything was possible, if it helped to further the cause he fought for all his life – a better life for older people and an end to the negative attitudes and discrimination they often face. He believed that we should always celebrate the unprecedented triumph of living in an ageing society. This message was always incredibly strong and permeated all his work.

He could also make others believe they could do anything, as he did me in persuading me to describe best practice across Europe to special Congressional and Senate Committees, each in seven minutes with no preparation. When I expressed some doubts about being able to do that, he said ‘of course you can do it Sally, just tell them what you know’. Somehow I managed, because Bob inspired me, as he did all of us. He was the best mentor ever.

Hearing him inspire audiences across the world was a privilege and he achieved momentous changes in policy and practice. Not only did he coin the word ‘ageism’ but also ‘shortgevity’ and his work was renowned.

But outside work, Bob was one of my dearest friends. He and Myrna first stayed with us in London when Alexandra was two and a half. Last year she and her fiancé returned to London, where a happy reunion reminded me of Bob’s delight in his family, such as, when in London with two charming grandsons, we all climbed to the top of Big Ben.

He was a determined walker covering huge distances, sometimes with me desperately trying to keep up. My husband Alan mapped out many historic walks across London for him. His insistence in maintaining physical and intellectual energy ensured, I believe, that he was able to remain fiercely active, even publishing a book a few days before his death.

My tribute to Bob, and that of my colleagues from the ILCs across the globe, will be to develop, expand and progress the work of the ILC Global Alliance. I am proud to have been involved sine the early days with Bob, Shigeo Morioka from Japan, and Francoise Forette from France, because if Bob’s message to recognise the economic and social force of older people is heeded, the world will surely be more balanced and more humane. The strength of Bob’s call to action demonstrates how future society can benefit from being, in all senses of the word, more mature and through the work of the ILCs we can ensure that Bob’s spirit and leadership will continue to inspire the world.

We owe him that at the very least and that, I promise, we shall do everything in our power to achieve.

Baroness Sally Greengross
Chief Executive, International Longevity Centre – UK


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