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Date of Passing: Sep 18, 2020

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With deep sadness, we announce the peaceful passing of Dr. Robert Thomas Byrnes on September 18, 2020. He will be missed by his family, friends, students and colleagues.
Born in Ontario, Robert moved to California as a teenager, with his parents. After receiving his PhD from UCLA, he returned to Canada in 1990 to join the faculty of the University of Winnipeg. He was a devoted teacher, until his very last course, in Fall 2019. His students loved their "Coach" - as he modestly preferred to be addressed. All along his 30-year career he inspired and mentored many of them, often into their professional lives. A specialist of the English language, he passed on his expertise in popular classes, always encouraging critical thinking and freedom of speech. Committed to Education, he contributed greatly to the development of courses and programs. He was also a distinguished James Joyce scholar, whose publications will remain relevant for future generations of Joyceans. His colleagues will greatly miss his cheerful collegiality, his humour, and engaging, unpedantic conversation, yet abound with a vast knowledge of literature, history and philosophy.
He will be remembered as thoughtful and kind-hearted. Many will cherish the DVDs he generously created with their "Philosophy of Life" interviews, or at special family events. Many will remember their flights over the Prairies. His passion for flying led him to become a pilot, trained at St. Andrews Airport. He loved the aviation world, exchanges with other pilots, mapping flight paths.
Loyalty defined him as a friend, humility as a human being. His family and friends will celebrate his full, kind life in their memory. Rest in peace, dear Bob.
As keeping with Bob's wishes, cremation has taken place and a private gathering was held.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Bob's name to a student scholarship or a charity of your choice.

Condolences may be sent to

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Oct 03, 2020

Condolences & Memories (1 entries)

  • I just wanted to say how sorry I am to hear of Dr. Byrnes' passing. He was a fantastic professor, beloved by myself and many others and he was such a supporter to me, one of my true mentors. I admired his intelligence, and also his character; he was playful and erudite, and had such charisma. I wish more professors were as personable as he was, as Academia would be a far better place. I had the pleasure of working with him in a few classes, including one on Ulysses, which was amazing. One of my best friends, who went to university later in her life, spoke of him as a favorite as well and he opened up new vistas of scholarship for her, as he did for me. I recall once a friend of mine was let go by the academic writing department and it was Dr. Byrnes who took her into his office to apologize on behalf of the department, even as he had not made the decision, a sign of his kindness. Bob was a kindred spirit, and I feel a terrible loss at not having him in the world anymore. Please accept my condolences. He was a truly special man. - Posted by: Kristian Enright (student and friend) on: Oct 06, 2020

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Thomson Funeral Home

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