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Date of Passing: Jan 23, 2023

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Dr. Robert (Bob) W. Nero passed away on January 23, 2023 in Winnipeg. He celebrated his 100th birthday on December 26, 2022.
Bob was predeceased by his wife Ruth and is survived by their children and his loving partner Nita. Bob inspired many with his poems, books and scientific journal articles on natural history.
As per Bob's request, no funeral or memorial service will be held.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Jan 28, 2023

Condolences & Memories (18 entries)

  • I met Bob in the late 1980s at meetings for the MWRO (Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization) where he persuaded me to join him on the Board of Directors. I had also volunteered to work on the MWRO newsletter: The Wingbeat, by drawing sketches for the featured articles and I fondly recall folding and stuffing those newsletters late into the evening after meetings with Bob. I loved the stories he would tell me about his days with Lady Gray'l and will forever cherish the comments he wrote in all hs books of poetry I had bought. Strangely, it was just recently I thought I might get in touch with him once again, probably the week he passed away. Unable to find a way to get in touch, I ordered his book, "Growing Old Together" from the bookstore McNally Robinson and just now, hoping to see him again, I typed his name into the space on my computer.... and I cried when I read: "Obituary for Robert W. Nero". I will sadly miss not having had the chance to say goodbye. Sincere condolences to his family; he was a most kind-hearted soul who will live forever in my memory. - Posted by: Catherine Cumming (Friend and fellow board member for the Manitoba Wildlife Rehabilitation Organization) on: Mar 03, 2023

  • I was sorry to read just now about Bob's passing. Although I didn't know him well, we did cross paths a few times while I was Bulletin editor for the Manitoba Naturalists Society, now Nature Manitoba. Ironically, I was going through some old paperwork this morning and found a note from Bob that reads, "Kindest personal regards to Jenny Gates, with thanks, Robert Nero, November 4, 2001." From what I remember, Bob was a kind and generous man, as this note confirms. Rest easy, friend. - Posted by: Jenny Gates (friend) on: Feb 14, 2023

  • I met Bob when I picked up the phone, one day, for a friend who was clerking in Bob Taylor’s shop in Osborne Village. He, on the other end, took seconds to charm me into meeting him for coffee, and we have remained friends ever since. Bob’s love of owls and nature inspired me to form my own understanding of our beautiful, bountiful world. I’ve had the exquisite opportunity to have Lady Gray’l sit in my lap during a volunteer session for Wildlife Week; spent hours looking for owls with Bob around the southern part of Manitoba; and have been privileged to have had Bob and Ruth in my life. Tamara, Birch, Woody, Brook and Laurel know that, even in his last months of advanced dementia and illness, your father still mentioned you; that bond undiminished. My condolences to you, and to Nita for your loving care in his final fading years. - Posted by: Linda Marie Anderson (Friend) on: Feb 02, 2023

  • Growing up in the Nero family was being in tune with nature. One thing I remember while living in Regina, Saskatchewan is that our house was different. My dad went out to the countryside and then planted so many trees in our yard it became a forest. I felt so proud to walk down the tree-less street and see our yard . Ours was a small bungalow but all the trees made it a park-like forest to me. A more recent time when I was helping my dad in Winnipeg after my mom, Ruth, his wife of 62 years had died, dad wanted to do something to remember her by. So we drove out to the countryside and scouted swamps, marshes, and streams finding some of her favorite wild flowers which we then brought back to fill vases with. This was my dad's memorial to my mom. My dad was a wonderful naturalist and teacher and myself and my siblings, Lorrell, Birch, Redwood and Brook will miss him. - Tamera Brant - Posted by: Tamera Brant (daughter) on: Jan 30, 2023

  • My grandpa Bob was an academic scholar, teacher, researcher and passionate about all things related to wildlife conservation. Grandpa Bob was also quite the comedian; he made me laugh as a child, saying, "marry me please" as his way of saying, I adore you, granddaughter. As a child, I thought it was so funny and unique to my grandfather. He played piano for us and made lots of jokes while my grandma Ruth cooked hearty meals and laughed at his wit. My siblings and I would spend time at my grandparent's house exploring the many treasures found throughout and telling us stories about an era frozen in time (the 50s and 60s). We particularly liked playing in the basement because of the mouse cages with feed for Lady Grayl, grandpas great gray owl living in the backyard. Grandpa taught us about wildlife, conservation and the natural cycles between the two. Thank you for teaching me about conservation and wildlife, grandpa; I know that I am considerate of the environment partially due to you exposing me to this as a child. I will miss visiting you at the home my dad and his siblings grew up in; many memories are embedded there, not without saying the shaggy yellow carpet and beautiful views out into your yard. - Posted by: Amber Nero (Granddaugter) on: Jan 30, 2023

  • Bob was my hero, mentor, friend. He will live forever in the call of the Red-winged Blackbirds, in the minds of the thousands of students he inspired, in the silent flight of his beloved Great Grey Owls, and hearts of all those who new him. Good-bye, Bobby. Condolences to his family and friends. - Posted by: Rhonda O'Grady (Friend) on: Jan 30, 2023

  • My condolences Laurel, Tamara, Woody, Birch and Nita. Bob's was a long life well-lived. I first met Bob at the American Ornithologists Union meeting in Regina in 1959. I was one of several very keen teenage birdwatchers from "small town" Saskatchewan whose attendance at that meeting started us on our career path. In the summer of 1963 I worked for and with Bob on an ornithological survey in northern Saskatchewan. As Editor of the The Blue Jay, Bob's writing skills and patience honed my scientific writing. I also took a class from Bob at the U of S, Regina Campus in 1964 and remember his wit and passion for all living things. Bob will be remembered as a shy, quiet, sensitive man with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in his eye who loved life and nature and shared his wisdom so freely with anybody who would listen. - Posted by: Glen Fox (Mentee and student) on: Jan 30, 2023

  • My parents - Allan and Irene Peden - met Bob decades ago when they found a deceased Great Grey Owl outside Pine Falls that had been hit by a car. Dad and Bob corresponded and met occasionally for many years thereafter - either out in Pine Falls or in Charleswood when my parents moved back to Winnipeg upon their retirement. I tagged along to visit Bob one day to see his large owl enclosure he had set up in his yard. Dad passed away in November but he would have wanted me to pass along his sincere condolences to Bob's family. RIP Dr Nero. - Posted by: Hugh Peden (Friend) on: Jan 29, 2023

  • I’d like to share just one of my memories of my father that occurred while luring and banding great great owls, near the town of Beausejour, Manitoba, with his friend Herb. In the middle of winter, in a ditch alongside the highway, they were both wearing white suits over their parkas as camouflage. Using a fishing rod, Dad would cast a fake mouse lure, hoping the owl they had spotted would come. Herb would be ready to pounce with a net. Once captured, they could then measure and band the owl. At a local dinner, dad overheard some locals amused at seeing some crazy fellows fishing in a ditch in the winter! Dad then proceeded to stop at a grocery and buy a couple of fresh fish. He then hung them from his waist as he and Herb continued to “fish” for owls. - Posted by: Birch Nero (Son) on: Jan 29, 2023

  • When I was a wildlife technician for Manitoba Natural Resources in Thompson, I called up Dr. Bob in May 1981 to come to Wabowden to band a female great gray owl and 3 young that I found in a forestry cut-block. Without hesitation, Bob told me to make accommodation arrangements for him and his banding partner, Herb Copeland because they would be coming up right away! When I met him much later that evening, his excitement for the adventure ahead was strong, in spite of the long drive north. When we got to the site the next morning Bob realized he would have to climb the tall aspen tree to band the young. He strapped on his climbing spurs and fearlessly, up he went! Did I mention that the tree was tall? When he got to the top, he caught one young owl but the other 2 fluttered unharmed to the ground. Bob took his time climbing back down and when he got to the bottom, he was so exhausted he lay down on his back. I walked up to him and said "How are you doing, Bob?" He said, while still out-of-breath "I hope I never have to do that again!" Bob and Herb and I banded two more great gray owls that day. It was a successful day. He told me this was the furthest north in Manitoba he had ever banded great gray owls and was glad he came. I was glad he was there also. I will never forget that day. His boundless enthusiasm for the natural world was infectious. He was an inspiration to me in my wildlife career. God bless you, Bob. My sincere condolences to his family. - Posted by: Dan Chranowski (Friend and former co-worker) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I always had a soft spot for Bob as he hired me in 1994 to work as wildlife extension specialist with DNR. He certainly had an influence on public education initiatives that fell under my bailiwick. He was an accomplished biologist, naturalists and writer (prose and poetry). He wrote many wonderful articles for the Beaver (HBC) and the Blue Jay along with feature publications on Manitoba’s polar bears, cougars and great gray owls- to list a few. He had a passion for owls and was instrumental in putting Manitoba on the map for all things having to do with great gray owls- from research to book publishing to the declaration of the owl as Manitoba's official bird. He touched the lives of thousands of Manitobans with his live owl demonstrations in classrooms and shopping malls throughout the province. Although Bob was best known for his natural history endeavours, he also enjoyed hunting and would often strike out with his retriever in pursuit of grouse. Grants Lake and Oak Hammock Marsh were among his favourite goose hunting haunts. On one Oak Hammock outing he left an indelible impression on my young son when he picked up a goose dropping in the field and chomped on it to determine if it was fresh. He was one of a kind. Ted Muir - Posted by: Ted Muir (friend) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • A wonderful man I met a number of times through the years. His passion for owls and nature was amazing. His sense of humor so uplifting. He really inspired us as we met fore many long hours developing the Guidelines for Owl Surveys book. A photo of Lady Gray Owl still sits on my desk to remember a great man. Never forgotten. - Posted by: Lisa Takats Priestley (Colleague) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I've been a fan of Bob ever since the day he had me hold a wild Great Gray Owl while he and his long-time bird-banding companion caught a second bird, nearby. The two birds had been more concerned about the presence of each other, but finally one flew into the lure. Bob said the second bird would be much more likely to come in if I were to take the first bird into my car, out of sight of the other bird. With that, he practically threw the first bird into my arms and I spent 20 minutes holding this bird. Bob was quickly proven correct, with the second owl coming in to the lure almost immediately. So we watched and then passed the first bird back to Bob. Bob was a wonderful character who will long be remembered among the nature-loving public. - Posted by: Rob Parsons (Friend) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I met Dr. Robert Nero in 1969 when he was the Chief of Natural History at the soon-to-be-opened Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, and I was applying for a curatorial position. I was fortunate that he selected me for this, my first position after graduation, which opened up opportunities for my future career path. As Bob moved on to work at Manitoba Conservation, our common interests kept us in touch, which eventually led to our publishing several joint papers and a book on the cougar in Manitoba. Bob was recognized widely as one of Manitoba's premier biologists, with research interests focussed primarily on blackbirds and owls; his book on the great gray owl is a classic in field biology. From studying pocket mice and butterflies to writing poetry and pursuing archaeology, his was a lifelong fascination with, and love of, Nature. His countless presentations, directed at scientific, student and public audiences, contributed greatly to wildlife conservation and education. Last year I visited Bob at his home to present him with a copy of my new book in which Bob and his cherished great gray owl were noted, and to thank him again for hiring me over half a century ago. I and his numerous friends and colleagues will miss him. My condolences to his family. - Posted by: Robert Wrigley (Colleague and friend) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I met Bob in 1985 when I interviewed for a Ph.D. research position to study the great gray owl under his supervision. He was instrumental in having this species designed as Manitoba’s official bird emblem, and in supporting my research and development as a scientist and biologist. Our friendship deepened over the decades and continued up to his passing. I am so grateful for his support and love. My condolences to his family and loving partner NitA. Rest in peace Bob. - Posted by: James Duncan (Friend, former graduate student and mentee.) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • Dr Nero and my mother, Rae Warburton, had a mutual love for owls. My mother has been in a nursing home with dementia for the past 5 years, so she hadn't kept in touch as she often did. I will let her know, just the same. Offering our thoughts but celebrating a wonderful life. - Posted by: Kim Warburton (Friend) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I met Bob in the late 1950s when I was in my teens and he was Assistant Director of the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History. I was a "bird-crazy" kid and went to a meeting of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society. Bob took an interest in me, as he did to many other young people. He arranged for me to participate in a S.M.N.H. collecting trip in the then-unflooded Saskatchewan River Valley in June, 1961 and to spend the summer of 1961 working with field biologists studying Marsh Hawks in Wisconsin. As a university undergraduate, I spent the summers of 1964 and 1965 working for Bob, conducting ornithological surveys in north-eastern Saskatchewan. Bob Nero shaped my life. He showed me that there was a possibility of making a career out of my interest in birds. This inspiration led me to a PhD at Harvard University and a career in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary. I hope that he was proud of this. My condolences to Laurel, Tamara, Woody and Birch, who I knew when they were children. - Posted by: Ross Lein (Student & Friend) on: Jan 28, 2023

  • I met Dr Bob on the boulevard in front of my house many (many) years ago when he came to break the news that my nesting peregrine falcons weren't peregrines at all. Little did either of us know that that meeting would alter the trajectory of my life. He understood and loved the science of the natural world but he could also hear the poem Nature whispered in his ear. Thank you Bob for introducing me to the peregrines, it continues to be a wild ride and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. My heartfelt condolences to Bob's children on their loss. - Posted by: Tracy Maconachie (Friend, mentee, peregrine falcon aficionado ) on: Jan 28, 2023

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