CLOVERDALE — Red Robinson says he learned the meaning of courage from his son Jeff, who silently struggled with the pain of Crohn’s disease.
“He never complained until it got so bad that we had to call an ambulance,” said Robinson, the Canadian broadcasting legend.
Jeff Robinson was 33 years old when the gastrointestinal disease claimed his life more than a decade ago.
This spring, the West Fine Art Show will pay tribute to Jeff with a memorial display at the event, held at Cloverdale Fairgrounds during the mid-May rodeo and country fair.
For a fourth consecutive year, the art show will donate a portion of all sales to the C.H.I.L.D. Foundation, which was launched in 1995 to help children suffering with Crohn’s and related diseases.
Red Robinson and his wife, Carole, have been backers of the foundation for many years, in honour of their departed son.
“Jeff had Crohn’s since he was 10,” Robinson said. “It’s a dozen years ago now since he died. You don’t want to lose a kid, I’ll tell you that. It never leaves me, it’s sad.”
“What they still do, and they haven’t had a major breakthrough yet, is they just remove more of your intestines until there’s nothing left, and that’s what killed him.”
PICTURED: Jeff Robinson as a child.
Red says his son dabbled in art, as his famous father continues to do.
“He could never get into (art) like he wanted to,” the pioneering rock ‘n’ roll DJ told the Now. “He had the longest fingers of anybody I ever met, which meant that he could be an artist or play the piano, I don’t know which. But he could sit there and draw like crazy, and he loved it.
“But he never reached his potential,” Red added, “because he’d go out and do something, get sick and end up in bed for a couple of days, it was awful. It’s a dastardly disease, that one, terrible. It gets into your gut, and there’s nothing worse. You become incapacitated.”
This year’s West Fine Art Show will also donate funds to the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation.
Much of the displayed art celebrates B.C.’s western lifestyle, and Robinson has officially opened the event in recent years.
Show organizer Brian Croft is among the 20 featured artists for 2017. The list of artists, along with other event details, can be found online at Westart.ca/at-the-cloverdale-rodeo.html.
New this year is an Emerging Young Artists display, to feature works by students at nearby Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary.
The art show will open with a special event on May 18, and Robinson and his wife will attend.
“They’re doing a dedication to Jeff that night and it’s ironic because (Carole) and I will be out there for the announcement or whatever they’re doing, I have no idea, and it’s the day of our wedding anniversary. Geez, how about that for timing?”
Robinson said he’s impressed by the variety of art at the show every year.
“I’m a frustrated artist myself – I guess I’m an illustrator, not a painter, and so I’ve always been fascinated by good art,” he added. “I can stand there gazing it for hours, you know? That’s the way it is, and the show does a good job with some prominent artists from Western Canada.”
During the run of the art show, guitarists Rossi and John Gilliat will perform at different times.
The four-day Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair runs from May 19 to 22 at the fairgrounds. More details are posted at CloverdaleRodeo.com, or call 604-576-9461.