Bob Galligan — who for many people and for many years was the face of the unhoused population in the Comox Valley — passed away at age 64 on Monday, June 13.
Once known around town as Bob the Bum, Galligan lived a hard life. After losing most of his family in a car crash, he spent many years living on the street, drank heavily and did time in jail.
But he managed to turn his life around, with help from the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society. In 2013, the non-profit arranged housing for him in Comox — and helped shed the moniker of Bob the Bum. He had stopped drinking, and worked for several years as a janitor at Comox Mall.
“Bob reminded all of us of our shared humanity, that behind every unhoused person is a story, and that listening and honouring that story is the greatest act of compassion one could offer,” said Grant Shilling, Dawn to Dawn’s community facilitator.
On a personal note, Shilling said Bob was a friend and a “proud ambassador of Dawn to Dawn,” always happy to lend his voice to the cause. He feels a special day should be held to honour him and all other unhoused members of the community.
“As he often said, ‘You guys saved my life.’ Bob, I can tell you that you added so many layers to mine and for that I am eternally grateful,” Shilling said.
He recalled that Bob loved animals, was proud of his Indigenous heritage, and enjoyed rolled cigarettes and dashboard drumming to the Rolling Stones.
“In a sense, he belonged to another era and was ‘The King of the Road’,” Shilling said.