Robert ATKINSON
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Robert Roy Atkinson (CM)
Passed away on May 17, 2016, surrounded with the love of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Roy was a character who loved his family and all things Irish. He was the oldest of ten born on February 17, 1924, to Bob and Elsie Atkinson on the farm his grandfather and grandmother homesteaded in 1906 located north of Springwater, Saskatchewan. As a young man, Roy tried his hand at selling deep freezes, cutting and selling Christmas trees out on the coast but had his eye on a dark haired beauty from Duperow, Saskatchewan. She wasn't anyone's fool; he had to spin some real Irish magic to turn her head. Luckily for us on November 17, 1951, Roy married Bette Aylward, and they began their 52-year life farming, raising kids and working for social and economic change. Together they raised five children and in his view there wasn't a dud amongst us (which is as close to a compliment as one could get with this character). Roy loved his kids but adored his grandchildren and great- grandchildren. His tough exterior turned soft when it came to them and he enjoyed a unique relationship with each and every one of them. His wife Bette, parents Bob and Elsie Atkinson and his sisters Margaret, Louise and Doris and brothers Blair and David, predeceased Roy. He leaves a legacy of activism, love, determination (as in you never give up, ever!), integrity, ethics and hard work for his children: Pat (Alfons J.P.), Leta, Bob (Bev) Wendy (Todd), Mike (Kristin) and his grandchildren Gavin (Natalka) Tyne (Nicole) Bailen (Roxanne) Shane (Michelle) Jamieson (Krystalyne) Ryan (Morgan) Colton (Liz), Kate (Mike) and Danny along with his great-grandchildren Bentley, Stella, Brooklyn, Allie, CallieAnne, Boston and Max. Roy also leaves behind his sisters Lavonne, Elsie, Roberta, and Thora, as well as many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews and cousins. Whether the 8th Street Co-op cafeteria, where he would hold court, a town hall meeting or the family living room, Roy was an outstanding orator and has many high school medals to prove it. As an activist farmer, he devoted his life to lobbying governments and providing leadership to Canadian farmers. He was President of the Saskatchewan Farm Union from 1962 until 1969 when he became the president of the National Farmers Union, a position he held until 1978. He served on the Economic Council of Canada and was a member of the Canadian Council for Rural Development. He was a board member of Federated Cooperatives Limited and was a "grassroots general" in Saskatchewan's fight for universal medicare serving on the Community Health Services Association formed in opposition to the 1962 doctors strike. From 1965 to 1994 Roy was a member of the Canadian Wheat Board Advisory Committee and served as chair from 1980 until 1985. He was an elected delegate to the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. And from 1998 he was co-chair of the Prairie Alliance for the Future, a western Canadian organization dedicated to creating a regional grain collection and transportation system. Roy was also active in forming the Landis Producer Coop after the elevator system in Saskatchewan was decimated. Roy was an activist spokesperson on behalf of farmers and wasn't afraid to use public demonstrations for the causes and public policy he was advancing. His only objective was to improve farmer economics and ensure the survival of the family farm. In recognition of his life's work, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame and invested with Canada's highest honour the Order of Canada. His family, comrades and protégés were inspired by Roy's unwavering sense of compassion, fairness, conviction and curiosity. There is no doubt that he will influence his family for generations to come. On behalf of the Atkinson/Aylward clan, we want to thank the outstanding health providers our province has. In particular, we want to thank Roy's doctor at the Saskatoon Community Clinic, Dr. Margaret McMahon, who looked after his healthcare needs with her quiet but fierce Irish determination and the lab technicians who visited him at Luther Tower. We also want to thank Darryl Martin at Luther Towers who supported Roy's determination to live an independent and dignified life. For the health team on ward 5300 at RUH and Dr. Ann Dzus, we say thank you for your dedication to your work. As Roy would say "We sure have the best there is providing care in our publicly funded and administered health system." A Memorial Reception in Celebration of Roy's life will take place on May 27, 2016, at the Battleford Room at the Bessborough Hotel at 3 p.m. Please wear what you like and blue jeans and polo shirts would suit Roy just fine. Honorary Pallbearers will be the staff and "Senators" from the 8th Street Coop Cafeteria. Arrangements have been entrusted to Saskatoon Funeral Home. As Roy would say "In solidarity and shop Coop even if Federated Coop makes you mad." Condolences may be left at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com Arrangements are entrusted to the SASKATOON FUNERAL HOME, 306-244-5577.


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Published in Saskatoon StarPhoenix from May 19 to May 20, 2016.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by For Roy's Great Grand Children
Not sure what to say?
70 entries
June 30, 2017
As a teenager, I got my picture on front cover of the Union Farmer presenting Roy with a $50 donation to the NFU (from sponsor money I garnered in a bicycle marathon). Roy visited our farm in later years. Roy was one of my heroes. And if my dad was still around, he would sign Roy's guest book too! Best wishes, Roy. I doubt you are 'resting in peace', you are probably up there organizing right now!
-Rob Howse
Rob Howse
August 5, 2016
I know for a fact that Robert had the ability to raise incredible children, as I have had the pleasure to experience the loyal and warm friendshp, of Wendy since High School, from 1977-1981. Our friendship has continued since then, and we are still connected today. I am so sorry for the loss of the Patriarch of your wonderfully loving family, and wish, and pray you feel your Dad guiding you still, as you pass the rest of the days of your life.
August 3, 2016
My condolences to Roy's family and friends. I interviewed Roy in the fall of 1984 for a Sociology paper about the Saskatchewan Medicare Crisis. That's how I first got to know him and we became good friends. I just found out today about his passing and I miss him terribly.

Petra Seyffarth
May 31, 2016
I send sincere condolence's from my family(whom all knew Roy) and myself.
I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to meet and get to know all of you.
The N F U becoming a National Union was no small feat. Roy played a major role in this accomplishment. We had our horizons broadened and made us more Canadian.

Moving from Provincial views, rules and policy was also a challenge. Roy had the patience (Mostly) to see this thru.
A real social activist, wanting what was best for our country and fellowmen.
Farm policy and marketing systems that would allow farmers to make a profit.
How to take on the Politicians, reminding them they were one of us and there to work for us and with us.
One trip to Ottawa to find bars and gates put in place to keep us out was very hurtful. This was our Government! After all we did not bring pitchforks.
Canadas farmer are the losers in Roy leaving us.
I personally will miss no one at the other end of th phone to tell me his vie on the issue of the Day.
We were blessed to have known and loved him.
Jean Leahy
May 31, 2016
I send sincere condolence's from my family(whom all knew Roy) and myself.
I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to meet and get to know all of you.
The N F U becoming a National Union was no small feat. Roy played a major role in this accomplishment. We had our horizons broadened and made us more Canadian.

Moving from Provincial views, rules and policy was also a challenge. Roy had the patience (Mostly) to see this thru.
A real social activist, wanting what was best for our country and fellowmen.
Farm policy and marketing systems that would allow farmers to make a profit.
How to take on the Politicians, reminding them they were one of us and there to work for us and with us.
One trip to Ottawa to find bars and gates put in place to keep us out was very hurtful. This was our Government! After all we did not bring pitchforks.
Canadas farmer are the losers in Roy leaving us.
I personally will miss no one at the other end of th phone to tell me his vie on the issue of the Day.
We were blessed to have known and loved him.
Jean Leahy
Jean Leahy
May 29, 2016
Pat, Leta, Bobbie, Mike and Wenda
It is very hard to say goodbye to such a truly great man and great friend. Roy, Bette, Jim and I spent many evenings together discussing farming, to world affairs to children. He was so proud of you all. Through Roy and Bette, Jim learned what farming was all about.and loved the prairies. Jim and Roy travelled and spoke at many small town meetings during the Medicare Crisis.
We will miss you, Roy.
With love, Elaine, Aaron, Ann and Ian McCrorie
May 25, 2016
Mary Wolfe (Venice, Florida) sends condolences. Your lovely obituary evoked many wonderful and fond memories for the Wolfe family. Warm regards
Ruth Wolfe
May 25, 2016
Our thoughts are with you. Roy has always been an impressive and very interesting guy and he will be missed by all of us. I especially will remember those lunches and lively discussions at the Bengal Room in Victoria.
Bob
Bob and Claire Hart
May 25, 2016
Sorry to hear of Roy's passing. I have many fond memories of Roy and his family having worked on their family farm.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Sandy & Vivian McGaw
Sandy McGaw
May 25, 2016
Our family was so sad to hear that Roy had passed away. We can hardly believe it. The Roy that we remember was physically such a big man, with hardworking hands, blue twinkling eyes like Santa and that big belly laugh. He was such a life force and added colour to countless conversations, holding court around our dinner table in PEI over the course of many years. When we would hear that Roy was coming to town we would all make sure to be there for dinner so we could be entertained with stories and have lots of discussions about everything political.



Perhaps Alf's recollection about his visit with Roy and Betty in Biggar while he and Chrissy were driving across Canada to B.C. says it all:



I remember as a kid that Roy always wanted to arm wrestle with me. His chats around the dining room table and his visits to the Canton Cafe, his devotion to the NDP and his suspicion of big corporations. When Chrissy and I visited him and Betty when we went out west and we couldn't quite find his place and along he comes in his truck and finds us, hanging his head out the truck, commenting about not being able to find him and Trudeau's metric system. He did that because the roads up there were in a grid to the exact mile.



Alf has a picture of the sign into Biggar which says "New York is Big but this is Biggar." Approriate that Roy was in Biggar - Roy was a big guy with a big personality that we were lucky enough to meet and share our life with.

We pass on our sympathy to all of Roy's family, his community and friends. He will be missed but the memories are warm.

The Blanchard Family
Jean Blanchard (Aylward)
May 25, 2016
Janeen Weir
May 25, 2016
I am saddened to hear of Roy's passing. He was a wonderful man. I cherish the fond memories of Roy at the NFU conventions/meetings and of the Atkinson clan visits at my family home in Perdue. I am grateful to have known Roy and to have learned from his kind, gentle guidance. Roy will always have a special place in my heart.

Pat, Leta, Bob, Wendy, Mike and families, I wish you comfort and peace.
Janeen Weir
May 25, 2016
Admired Roy for his dedication and convictions and on behalf of my deceased parents Adam and Elenore Schaab your Nieghbors across the street we extend to the family our condolences. Vern Schaab
Vern Schaab
May 24, 2016
Our sincere condolences to the Atkinson family on the passing of your father. His spirit and dedication to social justice has greatly influenced our lives as it has for countless others. We considered him a life long friend and he shall not be forgotten. The farming community has lost a great warrior.
Rudy and Joan Kiist
May 24, 2016
Never too busy to explain the history and context of agricultural policies, Roy was a wonderful political mentor for a newcomer. His no-nonsense analyses were an antidote to political double-speak and an encouragement to others to speak uncomfortable truths.

Roy was also a thoughtful friend with a practical bent. Having been out of touch for a number of years, I phoned him out of the blue for some political advice. A week later he phoned back. That obscure assembly for our ancient MH82 combine I'd happen to mention? He'd tracked one down in Saskatchewan through his many contacts!

Roy will continue to inspire and challenge us to work together to make the world a better place.
Bon Courage!
Jim Grieshaber-Otto
May 23, 2016
In reading Roy's astonishing accomplishments, as a director of the NFU I realize not only his the value of his legacy but, that we are standing on the shoulders of a giant. Rest in peace Roy the fight shall continue.
Glenn Norman
May 23, 2016
Roy Atkinson was a major influence during my career as a lawyer acting mostly for organizations like the National Farmers'Union. He was my guide and inspiration and, long after he retired from the battles he led, he showed me the right way. Although retired 15 years ago the guiding memory of Roy has stayed with me until this day and I shall never forget the wisdom he brought to the many battles we fought together.
It was I who bailed Roy out of a PEI jail cell after giving himself up to the RCMP in Summerside PEI during the tractor demonstration and highway closure there in October, 1971.
His courage never wavered.
In many courts and during many fights, from coast to coast for the years that followed I learned to have incredible respect for Roy. Faced with a hodge-podge of different provincial organizations across the country he secured special legislation to create the National Farmers' Union, the last Private Members' Bill in Canada. Roy was a constant reminder to me of the real reason I was working for the NFU. His cause had become my cause and I never forgot it.
His leadership was legendary,the fights were many and he never waivered but always led wisely.
On a personal note his love and support for the farmers of Canada knew no bounds. He was inspiring and it was because of him that I became NFU counsel, always ready to attend the conventions, fight the court cases and, as I saw it, stand by his side, as he stood by mine.
After a day's work he would say, "Let's go for a walk". And we walked down many country roads together. These were some of the best times of my life.
We will all miss him very much.
Aubrey Golden
May 23, 2016
RIP Great Uncle Roy
Brenda Caird-Pepin
May 22, 2016
Roy had a very sharp mind, among the best I ever encountered in my years in the academic and international trade circles. He loved "to stir the pot" on issues of importance to Canadian farmers. His wit and drive will long be remembered. Jim Leibfried
Dr. Jim Leibfried
May 22, 2016
In addition to the many causes and organizations Roy was involved with, he was also a Mason. Roy joined the Landis Masonic Lodge in 1947 and became a Biggar Lodge member in 2001 when Landis Lodge amalgamated with us. He was a member of the Masonic order for almost 70 years. Wow what an achievement! The Biggar Masonic Lodge passes on our deepest sympathy to Roy's family. Glenn Barclay, Secretary of the Biggar Masonic Lodge 100
Glenn Barclay
May 22, 2016
A life worth celebrating and an inspiration to those who don't give up.
John Lucas
May 22, 2016
To Pat and the Atkinson family.

My wife Linda joins me in offering our deepest sympathy to you on the death of Roy Atkinson - a great Canadian.

Roy was not only a passionate, outspoken advocate and defender of the family farm and the principles of orderly marketing, he also fought equally as hard in support of those Canadians who never saw a family farm. but sorely needed his support and voice.

We may never see another Roy Atkinson! When he was born they broke the mould!
Dave Morgan
May 22, 2016
Condolences from the Parenteau Family.
Henrietta Parenteau
May 22, 2016
Our condolences go out to Pat and the family
Arian and Chrissie Seseri
May 21, 2016
Sorry for your loss. He was an incredible man.
Vicki(Staples) Switucka
May 21, 2016
I'm so sad to hear of Roy's passing. His passion for farm politics and ability to see the consequences of policies on future generations impressed me so much. I will always remember him.
Barry Bruce
May 21, 2016
A truly "beautiful person" , who is sadly missed....by "more admiring" former Co-op cafeteria clientelle....
God Bless you Roy !!!
May 21, 2016
Leta and family-
My deepest sympathy goes out to your whole family. It was my privilege to have met your dad and am sure that his spirit of social responsibility and doing whats right lives on through you all. The actions of his being will endure for the benefit of everyone.
Against adversity-be well.
Jim Rickwood
May 21, 2016
pat and family sorry to hear of your dad's passing. dad very good
bernice and jack dziadyk (schaab)
May 21, 2016
Wendy...it's Tracy, hi. I want to let you know my fond thoughts go out to you...
Tracy Henderson
May 20, 2016
My deepest condolences on your loss. I will always remember Roy telling me that structure determined process and process determined results. He was very kind to me when I was starting out as young history student. The farm community has lost both a wonderful person and an amazing source of its history.
Laura Larsen
May 20, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with you remember your dad will always be with you
aunt thora
Thora Harvey
May 20, 2016
Condolences to all the family. Roy influenced my life for about 40 years, both in the NFU, and as a great friend! I always enjoyed Roy's philosophy and insight about life. My favourite quote of his,"With the flow of capital..." From this point the conversation began. Proud to have had the privilege of his friendship. In solidarity...Good-bye, Roy
Ken and Jacki Farion
May 20, 2016
I mourn the loss of a great socialist and a great comrade. I remember his struggle for community clinics during the doctors strike and his justifiable attempts to persuade the government to cease negotiations with the doctors since the people had spoken electorally and through the widespread formation of community clinics which marked the political failure of the doctors. I remember when he called me consult on ways to save the Wheat Pool from privatization. In fact Roy was at the centre of every progressive issue as an activist and with his profound commitment armed with wisdom, sense of mission and pragmatism. He was both a social builder and advocate for social, political and economic justice. My heartfelt condolences go out to Pat and the family and indeed, all of us, with the sure knowledge that his spirit will live on as well as his imprint on humanity.
Meyer Brownstone
May 20, 2016
Dear Pat and the rest of the Atkinson family,

Please accept my condolences on Roy's passing. He was such a brilliant person and unapologetic socialist, who fought for all of us. He fought for Medicare, for the family farm, against plant breeders rights, and so much more. He made such an important impact on Saskatchewan and Canada. You must be so proud of him. Thank you for sharing him with us.

Lisa Brownstone
Lisa Brownstone
May 20, 2016
To Roy's family - NFU members in Prince Edward Island are saddened to hear of the passing of Roy. He was a tremendous leader and will always be remembered in this province as the one who was in charge of the tractor demonstrations in 1971 where he fought courageously for the family farmers. He dedicated his life to this cause, and we shall always be so grateful. A wonderful man indeed. Sincere sympathy to you all.
NFU in Prince Edward Island
May 20, 2016
My condolences to Roy's family. May fond memories serve to temper your grief. Roy was a mentor, a friend, and a partner in crime' during the turbulent years of the National Farmers Union in the 1970s. I admired Roy for his wisdom, enthusiasm, and tenacity in the quest for social and economic justice and preserving the family farm. Roy was an activist, a trooper, and a compassionate leader. Canada has lost a great Canadian.
William Dascavich
May 20, 2016
Our condolences to the whole Atkinson/Aylward families. What a fighter for justice and fairness in Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world. I'm sure that all of us who were participants in the "Senate" at the former 8th Street Coop as well as all of Roy's many friends everywhere will miss the great debates and conversations that we had under the leadership of a great man.
May 20, 2016

My condolences on your loss.

Cheryl Storey-Kowalchuk
May 20, 2016
Forgot to sign the book Clifford Stevens all will miss you Roy
May 20, 2016
Sorry to hear of Roy's passing.Mother{Annie Stevens} did alot for the NFU and farmers in general Roy wasn't afraid to raise hell with the powers that be. He will be missed by all who knew him.
May 20, 2016
Roy truly was a great man. We will miss him greatly. Our deepest sympathies to all of you.
Aaron McCrorie
May 20, 2016
Our condolences to Roy family. Roy was not only an outstanding political leader but a major social philosopher as well. Always there with challenging and penetrating observations on the rural society situation but always indicating implications for the future stability of Western Canadian agriculture. We will miss you.

Javier & Clara Caceres
Pichidegua, Chile
May 20, 2016
A Saskatchewan and Canadian giant.
We send our condolences, to you all, especially Pat.
Diana & John Duerkop
Diana Duerkop
May 20, 2016
Thinking of you Pat, and what an impact your dad had on you and our province and country. We have benefited - even though many of us never had the chance to meet or know him.
Brenda Baker
May 19, 2016
Pat, Leta and family,

Sincere condolences on the passing of your dad. I remember him well from all the times I attended conventions of the National Farmers Union. And, of course, as you know, my dad Ernest Ross, and Roy were executive members of the NFU at about the same time. Ernie was a district director for 10 years during the time Roy was President of the NFU -- so Roy's name came up in our family kitchen table conversations many times, from tractor demonstrations to Save the Crow campaigns to constant policy issues, etc.. It is always hard to lose a parent, but of course, we know that they taught their children well, and that their legacy lives on through us all. Take time to grieve, then 'up and at 'em' to continue to meet the challenge of trying to create a better world. We know that those NFU members are watching over us from on high!

Sincerely
Lois Ross & family
May 19, 2016
Our sympathies to all, Roy was a special person and he will be remembered by many.
Marcel & Cheryl Poirier
May 19, 2016
Roy was part of the infamous tractor demonstrations in PEI years ago. He embodid social justice and took the time to Be present and to talk with the young and the old. Roy was a great Canadian and he was never afraid to speak truth to power. Rest in Peace.
Kim Hendricken
May 19, 2016
An amazing man, truly a wonderful leader and a powerful mentor for me. He will always be with us. My sympathies to all the family.
Nelson Coyle
May 19, 2016
My condolences to the Atkinson family. Roy was one of my political mentors many years ago. I remember him fondly.
Robert Argude
May 19, 2016
I was pretty young and very Green when I first met Roy, I was not sure what to make of him. But as I grew to know him through years of working with the NFU, I grew to respect him, his quick wit and intelligence, very much.

I am very sad to hear of your loss. I also know that he is still a very big part of all of you and all of us who knew him.
Lisa Chemerika
May 19, 2016
my father, Alex, and Roy were buddies and had great discussions..I accompanied Roy to his Hall of Fame induction ceremony and it was a priviledge to see him honored so for his life of activism...May Roy and Dad meet at the great Coop coffeeshop in the Beyond and their cups never run dry....RIP Roy
janet atamanenko
May 19, 2016
Dear Pat & Atkinson family
Our Sincere condolences, on the passing of your dad.
We had the honor of meeting your dad at the Founding NFU convention in 1969 in Winnipeg. He certainly left a lasting impression on us, Canadian farmers have lost a great champion.
Edward & Kathleen Cikatricis
May 19, 2016
My sincere condolences to Roy's family members. Working with Roy during my time at the farmers union was always an educational experience. He was a practical man but also a visionary, and someone who never hesitated to offer a kind word or a stiff rebuke, depending on the situation and what he figured was most appropriate. An honour to have known him and worked with him for many years.
Terry Pugh
May 19, 2016
My sympathies on the passing of Robert Atkinson. He was a very good role model.
Jo Sweeting
May 19, 2016
We shall not know his like again.
Scott Wilson
May 19, 2016
We shall not know his like again.
Scott Wilson
May 19, 2016
Our sympathies, Pat and family. As a retired Mountie I enjoyed the vigorous discussions with your father at the Saskatoon Coop coffee shop. He was one of a kind and will be missed, not only farmers but all people of Saskatchewan.
May 19, 2016
Dear Pat and Atkinson family, Saskatchewan has lost a great influence in the passing of your dad. Please accept our most sincere condolences.
Don & Ellie Richardson
May 19, 2016
Sending sincerest condolences, love, and peace to the entire Atkinson family.
Sheena Greer (Miller)
May 19, 2016
Dear Pat, Leta Bob Mike and Wendy:
Roy was always an inspiration to me. As a much younger cousin Roy had time to listen and encourage my life's thoughts and ambitions. I also received a lot of humorous and thoughtful advice and commentary on life's events. I occasionally have an opportunity to share those with my children, grandchildren and friends.

Roy did not go "quietly into the night" or quietly through life. It has been a great benefit and privilege to me to be Roy Atkinson's Cousin.
Harry Atkinson
May 19, 2016
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Roy. I met him on several occasions with my mom and dad. He was a very inspirational and influential man. My condolences to all of you. He will be greatly missed.
Susan Crush
May 19, 2016
What a good and caring man he was. We know that the legacy he would want would be for us all to live every day remembering that 'what we desire for ourselves we wish for all.'
Gail and Ted Bowen
May 19, 2016
Thank you Roy for your good struggle on behalf of all of us. What an honor to have known you, Condolences to Pat, who also fought and is fighting the good fight. Sincerely, Ingrid Alesich, Regina.
ingrid alesich
May 19, 2016
What better way to pass than being surrounded by love and proclaiming the virtues for the health care system. What a well written obit that painted such a story of your dad with the wee hint of Irish.
We send our condolences to all Roy's family and forever in blue jeans on the 27th.
Roger & Mary Ann Assailly
May 19, 2016
Dear Pat, Leta, Bob, Wendy, and Mike,
Please accept my most sincere condolences. Valerie
Valerie Proctor
May 19, 2016
Thinking of all the family and all of the causes he fought for to make life better for others. There should be many more like him.
Dianna and Pat McCarty
May 19, 2016
Roy was and still is a grand influence! It was a pleasure to know him.
Elaine Wheaton
May 19, 2016
Pat,
With a tip of the Coop coffee cup, our condolences go out to you and your family.
Kristine Larson Family
May 19, 2016
Dear Pat and the rest of the Atkinson family: Our most sincere condolences. He certainly had a long and fruitful life with many accomplishments. You will certainly miss him but so will many progressive people in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. Sincerely, Tim Quigley and Deb Hopkins
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