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REAL Recovery for Men


Gary Robinson Dead at 57

Co-founder and Executive Director of the Realistic Success Recovery Society and former Surrey City Councillor Gary Robinson died in his sleep Saturday, November 2, 2013 next to his wife Susan Sanderson. She said that although emergency services did their best to revive him, "the universe has decided that he's needed elsewhere."

News of Robinson's death was slow to emerge - that was intentional. Sanderson wanted time to personally tell some of the people who had cared for him the most - staff and residents at the Realistic Success Recovery Society's Trilogy Houses – recovery houses for men. Sanderson founded the society with Robinson seven years ago after he began his journey of recovery from his own well-publicized battles with cocaine addiction that eventually caused him to leave Surrey City Council in 1999.

Politically, he spent 13 years on Surrey City council. Surrey Bend Park, Green Timbers and Sunnyside Park, the Olympic Size Ice Arena in South Surrey, Surrey becoming a City and his support for Mayor Bose’s vision to develop the Whalley City Centre in 1990 are some of his proudest accomplishments. He was known as a politician that would battle hard with his opponent and then have a coffee with that person.

Married to Susan Sanderson and father of two sons Derek 25, a sheet metal journeyperson and Trevor 23, a culinary arts apprentice, he is also survived by his half-sister Sherry Mumford. Gary’s mom, Margaret (Upton) Robinson died in 1999 and his father Thomas Robinson died in 2003.

He worked at CN Rail for 24 years and served as Co-Chair of the Health & Safety Committee and President of the union local for 18 years.

The Realistic Success Recovery Society has received national awards for ethical business practices including awards from the CEP Humanities Fund; Home Depot Canada Foundation, Surrey Foundation, Toskan Casale Foundation and most recently they received a $20,000 grant from the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society which bought new beds for the residents. 700 men have called Trilogy House home since 2007.

He served on the boards of Surrey Heritage Society & BC Truck Museum; Vibrant Surrey; Surrey Homelessness and Housing Task Force; President, Easy Does It Club Society; Surrey Newton NDP Executive; President, Surrey Matters Voters Association; Active member of The BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund Future Is Mine – Adult burn survivors.

Gary played recreational hockey with the Red Army Team, was a passionate fan of the Vancouver Canucks and a collector of hockey memorabilia.

He loved rock’n’roll music, his knowledge of bands and band members spanned decades he leaves behind a large LP and CD collection. He was an avid fisher, sharing his knowledge with the Trilogy residents on several camping/fishing trips. He loved the snow, decorating the family home for Halloween and Christmas.

Gary was very proud of his sons’ shared interests - Derek who plays hockey and is active in his union, Sheet Metal Local 280; Trevor a guitarist ,song writer and a professional cook.

He is mourned by many and will be deeply missed.

Valley View Sharing Memories

Thank you for visiting The Realistic Success Recovery Society website. For information about the Trilogy Houses in Surrey, British Columbia, please email us at Please donate to our Society to enable us to help more people!

"Drug addiction should be termed drug desperation, our goal is to eliminate desperation
and replace it with hope".
~ Gary Robinson, Executive Director