Bogdan Izdebski. Just call him Bob. That’s what the kids and staff on campus do.
For 18 years, Izdebski — renowned for his jovial nature, for his black leather cowboy hat, and his singing and guitar picking in his little campus nook — has been frying up and serving mighty fine hot dogs and sausages at his Bob’s Dogs.
It’s a small, very cozy kiosk in the University of Guelph’s Branion Plaza. The walls inside his little shelter are plastered with hundreds of snapshots of customers past, including shots of Bob with three different U of G presidents.
All things taken into account, Izdebski may be the most popular man on campus. And recently, a group of admirers among the student body got up a crowd-funding campaign to show Bob how much he is loved.
“This made my life,” Izdebski said, speaking of receiving a new Fender acoustic guitar with a specially inscribed pick-guard. “It says on it, “We love you too, Bob.”
Students raised about $600, bought the guitar, strap, and guitar stand, just because they love Bob, and Bob loves them.
Jonathan MacPherson, a third year engineering student and lover of Bob, hatched the guitar idea and started the fundraising campaign.
“He has a guitar in his kiosk and he’s always playing,” said MacPherson. “When the weather is warmer he is always outside playing, and we hear him as we walk by. It’s pretty awesome.”
Izdebski is much loved, MacPherson said, because he is a kind of model of happiness for others.
“He is always so happy, and always so kind and loving towards everybody on campus. He’s just very altruistic, and I love that about him.”
MacPherson said the money for the new guitar was collected through Tilt.com, an online crowd-funding company.
“Students just donated to the the Tilt campaign,” he said. “We raised about $600 and then we went out and bought all this stuff for Bob.”
He added that Bob’s reaction to receiving the gift - which was one of total surprise and total joy - made the effort worthwhile. A video by Emil Smolders captured the moment. See it here.
Izdebski decided not to keep the new guitar in his kiosk, fearing it might get damaged by the wet and cold weather. He has a well-used one on the premises, but said the new one sounds fantastic. He’ll bring it around campus when the weather warms up.
“Sometime I would like to go on CFRU radio and make music for the whole campus,” he said. “The sound of the guitar is beautiful.”
Bob moved from his native Poland over 20 years ago. He had an acting career there. His wife wanted to live some place warmer, so they first moved to Greece. Then to cold Canada. He said he never regretted the move.
“I do so love this work,” he said. “Acting was a life of hotels, flowers and autographs. It was great, but this is something else. It is beautiful and amazing, especially being around the kids. It’s like God gave this life to to me.”