Our dear friend Bob Howis, who died at the age of 76 on 28 September this year, was one of those people you remember. He was president of FASC not just once but twice – from 1999 to 2003, and then again from 2011 to 2013, despite being in less than perfect health at that time. Before that he was president of the Anglo-Swiss Circle of St Gallen for many years, where he organized any number of unusual and fascinating events. He had to take a long break after a liver transplant in 1994, but was fortunate enough to make a full recovery, something he was eternally grateful for.
Bob’s strength was his unfailing enthusiasm for promoting FASC clubs all over the country, and indeed in doing to his best to encourage British residents in general to integrate into Swiss society. He was an experienced and skilful manager as well as being full of ideas, and had a happy knack of gathering people around him who willingly worked together as a team. This meant that FASC experienced something of a renaissance: he made a point of visiting and encouraging clubs all over the country and put new life into the Anglo-Swiss News, the FASC magazine, calling on various organizations to get advertising and other support.
The FASC weekends at this time were unforgettable. People came from nearly all the clubs in the country to meet old friends and make new ones, compete in sports, enjoy what the region had to offer and dance the night away after a splendid gala dinner. Particularly memorable were the 70th anniversary weekend in Beatenberg in 2002, the 2003 weekend in Zug with an Old Time Music Hall theme, fancy dress and entertainment by the Comedy Club, and, to crown it all, the 80th anniversary celebration in 2012 in Schenkon near Lucerne. This coincided with the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and Bob put even more energy than usual into making sure this was a brilliant event. His masterpiece was the publication of a souvenir book with a short history of FASC with numerous photos.
Bob was also always present at the winter weekend which enjoyed a revival under his leadership, despite not taking part in any winter sports. He supported the FASC lecture tours, making sure there was a wide variety of speakers willing to visit clubs with some interesting topic. And he always maintained good relations with the British Embassy, with the Ambassador as patron of FASC.
Those were indeed the days, and we can only be grateful to Bob for having been such a dynamic, motivating, supportive, friendly, helpful, hard-working, intuitive, experienced and pleasant leader and friend. Our deepest sympathy goes to his wife Liz and their children and grandchildren.
Anitra Green, November 2016