To many Rotarians, including myself, throughout New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific, who knew Bob well as a highly respected journalist and long serving Editor and Executive Director of Rotary Down Under, we were deeply saddened to learn of his passing in New South Wales, on 20 April, aged 78.

Bob had a huge presence on the Rotary International stage, commanding respect by Rotary leaders, World Presidents, The Rotary Foundation, especially through his leadership for End Polio Now initiatives over three decades, for his people skills and popularity organising major conferences and Rotary Conventions in Australia. and and playing a leading role for such events elsewhere in the world.

Michele and I had the pleasure of Bob’s company on many occasions at Rotary events in Australia and New Zealand and at Rotary World Conventions we attended in the United States, Portugal and in Australia. I had the support of Bob to be elected to the board of Rotary Down Under as New Zealand Director in 2011 when I was appointed for a six year term until 2017 and had many trips to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane for board meetings with fellow Australian directors over that time, following the highly respected terms of fellow Kiwis, Bill Boyd, former RI World President, and RI Director, Stuart Heal, before me.

Bob Aitken was the Editor of RDU for 27 years and Executive Director of RDU from 2011-2014. He joined the Rotary Club of Parkes in NSW in 1975 transferring to the RC of Blue Mountains in 1984. He was a Rotary District Governor in 1996-97 and served on many RI committees and as the RI President’s representative on many occasions.

His desire to see polio eradicated from the world dated back to 1985 and he led many initiatives for polio eradication around the world and in Australia by writing articles in RDU, visiting clubs and seeking financial support, including speaking to many Rotary Clubs here in Wellington, which fellow PDG Howard Tong, from the Rotary Club of Port Nicholson and I helped organise.

To mark Rotary’s 104th birthday Bob spearheaded a campaign which saw the sails of the Sydney Opera House lit up with Rotary’s End Polio Now message on February 24 2009.

In 2007, Bob was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for services to sport  (cricket and hockey), and the community through Rotary.
Our deepest sympathy is extended to Bob’s much loved wife, Ann, his children, and grandchildren.

Past RDU Director, David Watt.