Nesbitt liked how folk music brought communities together. He was committed to diversity and inclusion long before they were buzz words and programmed Grassroots to feature evenings devoted to performers from under-represented communities, such as francophone and Indigenous artists.
“He was very curious and open to learning about people,” Gick said. “I think the experience of working in Northern Ontario with all kinds of people — lots of immigrants and Indigenous people — had a great impact on him. He learned a lot from them.”
Born in Moose Jaw, Sask., Nesbitt grew up in Ottawa after his father, a doctor, relocated the family. He graduated from Glebe Collegiate and studied forestry at Lakehead, in what is now Thunder Bay, and at the University of New Brunswick.
Nesbitt returned to Ottawa after his father died and worked in construction, running his own renovation business until he retired in his late 60s. He has two adult children from a previous marriage and a grandson in his 20s.
In retirement, Nesbitt also spent more than a decade volunteering at Richmond Public School, where he helped students in the younger grades learn the basics of using a computer.
He and Gick, who was a palliative care physician during her career, met about 20 years ago, set up by friends. Both loved to travel and spend time outdoors. They built a home and a cabin in the woods not far from the site of the Blue Skies Music Festival.
This year’s edition of the Grassroots Festival will be a virtual event on April 23-25. The program has yet to be announced, but it’s sure to include a tribute to the man who brought volunteers and performers together to make it happen.
“The primary thing that drove him was the building of community and helping people have a purpose and develop skills,” Gick said. “Bob wouldn’t want us to be moping about. It’s about carrying on with life and moving forward.”
This content was originally published here.