All of us at Friends for Health in Haiti were saddened to hear of the recent passing of our wonderful friend Robert Chase. Bob was a skilled carpenter with a heart of gold and he spent the later years of his life blessing those of us on the mission field with his carpentry skills, energy and love for the Lord.
Bob made his first visit to Jérémie in February 2012 when he came down with a group from Elmbrook Church. He and his son, Kent, who was also on the trip, designed and built a beautiful desk in my office at home in Jérémie as well as wood armoires in three of the guest bedrooms in the house.
Bob (right) working with his son, Kent (middle) and Elmbrook Church member Marc Schulz (left)
Desk that Bob and Kent designed and built for Dr. Wolf’s home office
Dr. Wolf checking on Bob’s progress when she got home from clinic.
It looks like Bob is thinking “what doesn’t she understand?”
Shelving unit made for one of the guest bedrooms in our house in Jérémie
At the time of his visit, our clinic in Gatineau was under construction and we mentioned how wonderful it would be to have mahogany cabinets and desks in the clinic examination rooms and offices. So, Bob went home and began designing cabinets, cupboards, and desks to completely furnish the new clinic. He then built them in his workshop in New Berlin, labeled each piece and then took them all apart. We shipped the pre-fabbed pieces down on a container, brought them from Port-au-Prince to Gatineau in a truck and he and his wife, Audrey, along with Don Richmond, came down in September 2013 to put them together and install them in the clinic. It involved two weeks of hard work but the end result was outstanding.
The first order of business was to sort through all the pre-fabricated stacks of wood and figure out what went where.
Bob sorts through all the cabinet pieces that were shipped down to Haiti.
The group set up shop on the front porch of the clinic while Haitian workmen were building the lab/xray/pharmacy building right next to it. Needless to say, there was a lot of activity going on.
Bob carries a cabinet he’s working on.
Frames for some of the cabinets are put in the clinic inside waiting area
Audrey and Don did the sanding and varnishing.
Bob drills the facing on the front of a desk drawer.
Bob and Audrey take a much-needed break at the end of the day.
Bob loved getting to know the Haitian workmen who were working on the second clinic building. He made them feel comfortable even though he couldn’t speak their language. Each had an appreciation of the others’ workmanship.
Bob with the iron workers.
On the weekend, we took the group into Jérémie to go to church and have a chance to look around town. Bob and Audrey found a nice place to pose for a photo!
Bob and Audrey in the town square in the middle of Jérémie
Once the cabinets and desks were made, they needed to be installed in each room in the clinic. Each item had a number matching its location on Bob’s master plan. He brought computerized drawings of each cabinet, desk and shelving unit and used the designs to re-build each unit and install it.
Bob’s computerized designs of each cabinet, cupboard and desk
Clinic exam room desk and shelving unit being installed
Two long desks in Medical Records being installed
The night before they left, we gave Bob a gift of a machete. He seemed to like it a lot but Audrey wasn’t as sure!
Bob examines the machete we gave him to take home while Audrey eyes it cautiously.
There was still work to be done making the desktops and countertops, so Bob returned to Haiti in December 2013 with Ray and Donna Moon, Yvonne Ducharme and her brother Laurence, who is a very handy carpenter himself. The group became fast friends and accomplished a lot while they were here. Prior to beginning their work, the guys went over all of Bob’s plans together.
Ray, Bob and Laurence look over Bob’s design plans before starting their work.
Bob and Laurence love to be organized so they built a set of shelves and a small cart on which to place their tools and supplies. Both of them are still in the workshop at the clinic.
Shelves and small cart Bob and Laurence made for storage of tools and supplies.
Bob and Laurence made a great team. Bob loved having someone competent helping him and Laurence loved learning from the “master”.
Bob and Laurence at the beginning of the work day
The team worked on making the desktops and countertops in each room and that meant they had to prepare the raw lumber. Mahogany planks had been bought in advance but they had to be planed to the right thickness and cut to size.
Bob puts a plank into the planer as Laurence looks on.
Once the tops were made and sanded, they had to be stained with a mahogany stain.
Bob stains one of the desk tops in the Medical Records room
Since Bob’s wife, Audrey, didn’t come on this trip, Yvonne took over responsibility for varnishing the countertops.
Yvonne varnishing all the countertops and desktops
Meanwhile, Ray and Donna kept busy putting down the ceramic tile on the counter tops. Each of the exam rooms had a sink with countertop as did the small clinic kitchen.
Ray and Donna put down ceramic tiles on the countertop in the kitchen
The end result of all the work was beautiful cabinets, counters, desks and shelves in each room in the clinic. It was a hard two weeks of work but much was accomplished!
Cabinetry in the Emergency Room of the clinic
Bob takes a needed break at the end of the day.
We were grateful for the wonderful workmanship, the fellowship and warmth of good friendships and the commitment and dedication each team member showed to Cherlie and me and FHH!
The “gang” with Katie and Cherlie in front of the clinic. (L to R) Bob, Laurence, Ray, Donna, Katie with Yvonne and Cherlie in front.
After all that Bob accomplished with his able helpers, we left him alone for a few years and he continued to travel the world, helping other missionaries and ministries with their work for the Lord. But, we came to the place where we needed his expertise again, this time for building cabinets in our new lab and pharmacy building. And, again, he answered the call!
In January 2016 Bob came back to Haiti, accompanied by Ray and Donna, Yvonne and Laurence and their niece Brittany. Also in the group was Dr. Ron Schroeder, a retired gynecologist who saw patients with us in the clinic and also helped with the carpentry projects. The group’s mission was to build cabinets under the counters in the lab and pharmacy, as well as making shelving units for the walls. But, on their own, they decided to build 4 sets of bunk beds for us to use for visitors in the residence quarters. Not only did they build them, they got to try them out to make sure they were stable!
The guys built the cabinets for lab and pharmacy and then the women sanded, stained and varnished them. They set them out on the front porch of the pharmacy building and it looked like an assembly line!
Assembly line of cabinets
Bob and Ray begin to install some of the cabinets
The cabinets in the lab look beautiful after installation!
The team built four beautiful bunk beds for the residence quarters
Who was the first to check out the new beds?Bob Chase, of course!
All of us at FHH give tribute to Robert J. Chase, a wonderful servant of the Lord and master carpenter who used his skills and expertise to bless the lives of others. We are grateful that we have reminders of his dedication to our ministry in each room of our clinic, in our house, in the residence and in our hearts. We are comforted in knowing that Bob is with his Lord and we send sincere condolences to his family and friends who grieve his loss.
Master carpenter and friend of FHH