L’ Alliance Française de Lynchburg lost a stalwart of our organization. Robert (Bob) Garbee died on March 9, 2023. He was a life-long Francophile who so enjoyed all things French. As a young man, Bob studied architecture in Paris, France at the École des Beaux-Arts as a Fulbright Scholar. Bob was one of the earliest members of the L’Alliance Française de Lynchburg when it was founded in the fall of 1960. Over the years, Bob served the L’Alliance in many capacities supporting its mission. He served as its Registered Agent since 1985 and contributed greatly to the creation of the by-laws. He and his wife, Polly, were active members of the Alliance, up until just a few weeks ago.
When asked to recall memories of Bob and Polly’s contributions to the Alliance Française, members had this to say:
“Mr. Bob Garbee has always been a true gentleman in any situation! In my years as president of the Alliance Française, Bob was of course also on the board as our registered agent. His comments and opinions reliably reflected wisdom, experience, and diplomacy. I wish I had known Bob at the very beginning phase of the Alliance Française de Lynchburg when, according to his stories, members met and sat around in a circle reading French plays! I was always so impressed by these stories of the early Alliance. Thank you for all your contributions!”
“I will always remember Polly and Bob as gracious hosts for so many Alliance Française activities. They have encouraged our appreciation of French language and culture for a very long time. I would gladly say that I consider them to be the heart and soul of all things French, and they are lovely people and dear and precious friends.”
“I always remember when we had Board meetings at his home. He would have sherry for us with petite sherry glasses and some nuts or something salty. He would arrange it in his living room on a side table with cloth cocktail napkins and then we would all sit around the dining room table for the meeting. Usually at some point during the meeting he would sneak in a little story about when he lived in France.”
“He was very good at keeping us informed about Alliance activities.”
“One recent December evening, members of the L’Alliance visited the home of the Garbee’s to sing French Christmas carols. They enjoyed singing the carols with the group. Before departing, Polly handed out home-made potholders, with Eiffel Tower print material, to the carolers.”
“I especially remember a delightful trip that we took to Arc-et-Senans many years ago. Polly’s professor from her Hollins Junior Year Abroad, Marguerite Prinet, was with us and gave us a beautiful visit of the royal saltworks built by Nicolas Ledoux in the eighteenth century. This experience was one of my most memorable times in France.”
L’Alliance Française de Lynchburg is grateful for the many contributions Bob and Polly have made to our organization over the last 6 decades. Because of their persistence and hard work, the Alliance continues to carry out its mission today.
Bob’s obituary can be found at https://obituaries.tharpfuneralhome.com/funeralpress/robert-horace-garbee/6262/
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, 2023, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lynchburg