(Submitted by Brad Rumbolt - image credit)
He's being remembered as a community leader with a big heart. A jokester, the life of the room, a skilled fisherman and impassioned businessman.
Keith Rumbolt's name means many things to many people. To his brother Brad Rumbolt, Keith was a mentor, and his best friend.
"He always watched over me and I, you know, and as I grew up into a young man, he stood next to me teaching me … lessons in life."
Keith Rumbolt, 51, died last Sunday in a boating mishap. Police received a report he was missing in an area known as Pleasure Harbour. Rumbolt and another man entered the water when their boat overturned. The other man made it to shore. Rumbolt did not.
Growing up, Brad Rumbolt said, it was easy to idolize his older brother. Whether it was for his exceptional hunting skills, his deftness around the fishing boat, or how he brought life to every room he entered, Keith was an inspiring force in his life.
"He was someone I always called on when I had a bad day at work and, you know, just to hear the excitement in his voice as he told me some unique story — because he has quite an ability to tell stories — and he would give me the strength I need to go on and forget about whatever I was dealing with that day."
He wanted to help all
Family was the centre of Keith's life, said his brother, and he was the centre of theirs. It was Keith who propped people up when they were down, Keith who loved to help all connected to him.
"I don't think any man is judged by his accomplishments, but I think more so by the people he impacted and loved while he was on this earth," Brad Rumbolt said. "And there are so many people that he touched that will never forget him and he'll be remembered for a long time."
Keith Rumbolt was mayor of Lodge Bay, but his impact was felt throughout Labrador. He was involved with the Battle Harbour Development Association, the Labrador Fisherman's Union Shrimp Company, the NunatuKavut community council and was a local volunteer firefighter.
Rumbolt spent most of his working life on the water. He was most recently boatswain aboard the MV Northern Osprey, and built a strong reputation for his adept leadership and attention to trawls.
He worked offshore in the shrimp fishery for more than 30 years and, when only in his teens, worked in the inshore fishery.
'Calm and thoughtful'
Andreas Snarby, who worked with Rumbolt for much of the past dozen or so years, marvelled at his leadership and knowledge of his craft, even in the most tempestuous seas.
"He was very, very calm and thoughtful when times get tough, when we have issues on deck, things aren't going as planned.… He always kept things together, remained calm and always found a way to solve the problems."
Snarby said Rumbolt's attention to the detail of his work, and his ability to care for the boat's trawls, was impeccable.
Surpassing his intelligence as a mariner was his love of family, and the communities he served, said Snarby.
"He was a good friend and someone that could keep morale up," he said. "He was always very proud of where he came from and he spoke very highly of his communities."
Snarby said there's a void this week aboard the Osprey, where Rumbolt was boatswain, and a lot of sad faces.
"It's just really hard to believe that he's gone," he said. " And a lot of it hasn't fully sunk in yet, I don't think."
For Rumbolt's family that grief is compounded. There's the void of not having a cherished relative around, but there's also the loss of a voice they called on, a laugh they needed and the guidance they would have sought. Brad Rumbolt said it will be difficult, but they will find a way.
"Our hearts are empty, but we are so full of the love he shared," he said. "As a family, we'll, we'll get through it."
Rumbolt leaves behind his wife Cheryl Lynn, daughter Hailey, son Colin, mother Barbara, sisters Nancy, Yvonne and Sherry, and brother Bradley among many family and friends.