Robert Gordon Van Buerle. An amazing man.

My Dad and my hero. Strict but fair. He loved his family passionately and everything he did was for us.

Dad passed away peacefully in his sleep last Friday, 15th January 2021.

We are so blessed that as a family we are all together on Bribie Island; and that Alexa was able to come from Spain to spend 3 months with us over Christmas 2019/20.

I have many wonderful memories of a life well-lived, the places we travelled as a family and despite all the hardships we faced in the war-zones of the world the one thing that stood out was that we were always wrapped in love.

I went to boarding school, first in Beirut and then in the UK, as Dad was insistent that education was the one gift he could give us. A gift that no matter what circumstances we found ourselves in, it could never be taken away.

He was right. My education both formal and informal has stood me in good stead throughout my life.

Dad was 92 years old.

Jerusalem, Tiberius, Nairobi, Rawalpindi, Kashmir, Baghdad, and Windhoek were amongst his places of residence.

Dad encountered royalty, dictators, diplomats and world leaders as well as those who were doing it tough from all nationalities and walks of life.

He lived through the Japanese Occupation of Malaysia, served as a police inspector during the Malayan Emergency where Lee Kuan Yue would appear in court along with Dad (before LKY became Prime Minister).

A career shift to the United Nations saw Dad become part of UNTSO in Jerusalem. He was there during the 6 Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Highlights also included UNMOGIP in Rawalpindi and Srinigar.

The East African part of his career was UNEP in the days of Idi Amin and Jomo Kenyatta. Kenya was a wonderful experience for all of us as a family.

Dad also had a brief spell in Baghdad during the reign of Saddam Hussain. A dangerous time that saw Dad decide to take early retirement.

Coming out of retirement, Dad returned to the UN to serve as an observer for the election process that saw Nambia become independent from South Africa.

His life was definitely well lived!

The poem below first came to my attention when, in 2008, I attended the 5th World Conference on Breast Cancer in Winnipeg, Canada. It has stayed with me over the years.

As my family now prepares to say our final farewell to my father it has once again sprung to my mind.

The Dash Poem (By Linda Ellis)

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering this special dash
Might only last a little while

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash…
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent YOUR dash?

02 December 1928 – 15 January 2021 saw Dad’s dash very well spent.

I am proud to be his daughter. I am proud to be Michelle Van Buerle.

Love you Daddy xxx


  1. A beautiful tribute Michelle. My condolences on the departure of your amazing father from a world he experienced fully.
    Katherine (HRH)


  2. In this man are my first impressions of integrity and dignity
    In his eyes are my first impressions of stern but loving kindness
    In his hands are my first impressions of hard work and honesty
    In his heart are my first impressions of family love and sacrifice
    In his family is his legacy where he will remain IMMORTAL

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just read your loving tribute to you father. Such sad news that no words can alleviate. However, what a life, what a man! What a person to turn to, intelligence, kindness, integrity and love; what a daddy. Sending you all, across the too many miles, much love and many thoughts. XXX

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My humblest condolences, Michelle. What an accomplished life your father lived and such an eloquent and fitting tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michelle I am so saddened to hear this sad news of Roberts passing, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, give mum my sincere condolences and much love ,
    This time is for you all to grieve a great lovely man , take time to cherish each other , and gain strength from the wonderful memories that you have all shared with your father.
    All my love
    Doreen Hodgson.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A beautiful tribute. Sending you all heartfelt sympathy. May the wonderful memories you all share wrap you in warmth at this sad time. I have loved you sharing stories of your life together. Indeed a dash well spent.
    Love Michelle

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your Dad was very proud of you and your Dash to date too Michelle.
    Please extend our condolences to your Mum and family.
    You are such a close knit family I’m sure you will find comfort in being together during this sad time.
    Janelle & Blair

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s