Ron Phippen in the T-shirt his fiancée Lori Roberts met him in. Phippen died suddenly of melanoma on Jan. 18, 2020 but then a month later a bag of his T-shirts destined for a memorial blanket was stolen in Chilliwack. (Facebook)

B.C. widow ‘crushed’ over stolen T-shirts meant for memorial blanket

Lori Roberts lost her fiancé one month ago Tuesday now she’s lost almost all she had left of him

Lori Roberts is heartbroken over a stolen bag of old T-shirts.

Of all the otherwise worthless items stolen that have a sentimental value, these are precious to her and she just can’t fathom why someone would do such a thing.

She just wants them back.

Roberts’s fiancé Ron Phippen died suddenly one month ago only a few days after he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma.

Crushed as she was, Roberts donated dozens of bags of Phippen’s clothing and shoes and boots to charity, but she kept one all-important bag. His collection of hiking T-shirts that a friend was going to make into a memorial blanket for him.

“This is one of the few things I have left of him,” Roberts said in a Facebook post pleading for help.

“My heart is crushed.”

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The friend who was going to make the blanket was in training doing runs up Mt. Thom on Sunday. She had the bag in the trunk of her car that was parked at the bottom of the Jinkerson stairs on Promontory.

Then friend got a call from police asking if she was OK.

“She asked ‘Why?’” Roberts told The Progress, adding that police responded: “Because your windows are smashed.”

There was nothing of value in the vehicle. The T-shirts were in a clear blue garbage bag in the trunk, and they were gone.

She posted about the incident on Facebook with a photo of Ron at the Mt. Slesse memorial where they met and where he was wearing one of the missing T-shirts. It’s an orange North Face shirt, with the words “Hills & Trails & Rocks & Dirt.”

“That’s the one that I met him in,” she said, pausing for emotions during a phone call. “That’s the one that means the most.”

Since the theft, friends and family have helped her scour the community to look for them, assuming no one would actually want a bag of old T-shirts. They spent Family Day on Monday going to homeless shelters to see if they had been dropped off. They looked in ditches everywhere along the way, up Chilliwack Lake Road, over to a homeless camp on Island 22, but nothing.

Roberts and Phippen had been together for four years, she said. The two both had what seemed like the common cold over Christmas but whatever Phippen was suffering from persisted. It took multiple visits with medical professionals until on Jan. 13 where a spot was found. The spot was a mole on his skin and a biopsy determined it was metastatic melanoma, a form of stage 4 cancer.

“They said he had less than seven days to live,” Roberts said in tears. “He didn’t even spend one night in his new house that we bought together.”

He died on Jan. 18, 2020.

In memorial, she created the man cave Phippen’s wanted in the house they bought together, moving as they did only recently from Cloverdale. And she wants that T-shirt blanket for that man cave.

Roberts said she’s not mad at the person who stole the T-shirts, even though, maybe she should be. She just wants whoever did it to get a conscience and return the bag.

“How would you like it if your stuff was stolen from someone you loved,” she said.

“This really means a lot to me.”

The T-shirts are mostly old ones with pictures of owls, trees, whales and bears. The theft occurred on Promontory between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 16. If anyone knows where it is she would like that person to try and get in touch through Facebook, the Progress, or call the RCMP non-emergency line.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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