bob murdock picA man’s worth is determined by the number of people who feel more valuable for having been in his presence.

And in this way, Bob Murdock was one of the richest men in the Quad-Cities.

“Dr” Bob Murdock passed away late Sunday night and since then a large part of the Quad-Cities community has been awash in shock and sadness over the loss of a great man, a longtime beacon of the community and a good friend.

Murdock grew up in Ohio and moved to the Quads in 1991 to help open the long defunct Funny Bone Comedy Club. But like so many things in life, the plans we make often lead us to the destiny we never expected.

That club failed, but it led Bob to the one in the Rock Island District where he would make his home, and enrich the lives of others, the Blue Cat.

For almost 25 years, Murdock had been the anchor of one of the best restaurants and pubs in the Quad-Cities. As a Blue Cat regular, I got to know him pretty well over the years, as did all Blue Cat regulars. It wasn’t difficult to get to know Bob, and as the old adage goes, to know him was to love him. He was that kind of guy.

The stories being told about Murdock all have a familiar ring and it’s one that brings smiles and tears.

How he helped welcome new people into town with a smile, friendly conversation and a free drink.

How he was one of the most faithful patrons of the local arts, but without any fanfare, merely by showing up and encouraging those of us who were unafraid to create.

How he was there for people during their ups and downs, was there to lend a sympathetic ear, to join in the celebrations with a huge hug and a smile that radiated joy.

I have my own long list of Murdock stories, but they all have one constant, and it’s that none of them feature him as anything other than who he always was, a brilliant, buoyant spirit.

The last time I saw him was Saturday night, the evening before he passed. I was out for my birthday dinner, and, like pretty much every year over the last decade plus, I picked the Blue Cat as my spot to celebrate. I came in and Bob immediately greeted me with a huge smile, a big hug and kind words. On a slower night, we would’ve chatted more or he would’ve come to the table and we would’ve caught up. But it was a busy night, a Saturday night, and a man behind a bar is never lonely on a Saturday, nor does he have much time to sit down and chew the fat. I’ve certainly been in enough bars to realize that.

And for most people, that would’ve been a given, an understood. But not for Bob. Later that night, I got a message from him, completely unexpected and unwarranted, actually apologizing for not coming over and chatting more, wishing me well, asking how things were. I told him the apology was certainly not needed, but that it was great seeing him, as always. We chatted a bit, I wished him well, he wished me the same.

And that was it.

A typical conversation with Bob. Upbeat, friendly, fun.

The kind I, and so many others, are going to miss. A lot.

Many, many people are missing Bob, mourning his passing, and justifiably so. The Quad-Cities has lost one of its greatest characters and one of its biggest hearts.
But I think the best way to pay tribute to him and eulogize his life is to emulate it.

The way I remember Bob is as a guy who always had a smile and a kind word, who was upbeat and full of energy, who always seemed to make the place he was in better for him being there.
The world could always use more of that.

Especially now that one of its brighter lights is gone.

You lived a magnificent life, my friend.
Cheers.

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written almost 30 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.