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Richard René Silvin and his partner, Robert Versteeg, are dog people. But maybe they should have had cats because they must have known nine lives.
In fact, everyone has lived as many or more!
In town is the life Rene is best known for as chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “It’s a lot of work, but I love it,” he said of his life over the past eight years protecting and restoring Palm Beach properties.
But that’s just a life of his life. A previous one was in sports: he won a major bodybuilding award at the Gay Olympics. He also won awards for rowing and brought his Swiss team to victory.
Switzerland? Yes, before he came to Palm Beach permanently, Rene lived there and in four other European countries. After Rene received a Masters Degree in Finance and Hospital Administration from Cornell, his life was largely that of running a company that owned and operated 30 hospitals in 10 countries.
In this life he met the Duchess of Windsor, who was responsible for the abdication of King Edward VIII, know, befriended her and often accompanied her. After the Duke’s death in 1972, Rene said: “I became like a son to her until her death.”
Rene later wrote a book about her: “Noblesse Oblige: The Duchess of Windsor as I Knew Her.” This is just one of the books from his life as a writer. There are four more on subjects as diverse as the Normandy Ship, Addison Mizner, and Rene’s early life in a prestigious Swiss boarding school.
Linked to his writing is his life as a speaker. For this year alone he has planned 27 lectures, including speeches at Kravis and The Society of the Four Arts. He recently gave a talk at the Palm Beach Chapter of the Circumnavigators Club, an organization of people who have traveled the world, on the Concorde, which he has flown many times.
Rene works on his books and lectures with someone who is a big part of his life: Versteeg. The two met nine years ago when Robert Renes became a personal trainer while “we were both gym rats,” said Rene.
Robert also had almost nine lives. He was born in the Netherlands and came to America when he was 23. He was able to stay here by winning the green card lottery. In his previous Dutch life he was a dancer. In America he turned this talent into a career as a group coach and personal trainer.
Robert later earned a Masters and then a PhD in social work. For years he worked in hospitals, hospices and other institutions to help people.
And now, in his new life, he mainly works with Rene. Robert creates graphics, layout and design for Renes speeches, books and PowerPoint presentations. Robert also has a shop that makes other people’s books. He does the graphics, layout and design for you before uploading your books to Amazon.
After all, the two have a life together as “dog daddies,” as they say for their 7-year-old, 55-pound Golddoodle named Goofy. Her previous dog’s name was “Silly”. And how did this get its name? “She looked silly,” said Robert.
Goofy only has one life – she is a dog, not a cat. Your life takes care of Robert and Rene. Rene mainly because he had health problems. In one of his “lives” that he was fortunate to have behind him, he was a patient with late-stage cancer.
Goofy is a service dog who can take care of him. “When Goofy puts on her service vest, she suddenly becomes serious, not silly,” said Robert.
But while Goofy does take care of Rene on occasion, she takes care of both of them equally.
“Goofy is so attached to us that if one of us leaves, she’ll watch the door so he can come back,” said Robert. “If we both leave, she’ll sit at the door and wait for us to come back. She insists that we have to be together – and at home with her. “
And with interesting companions like Rene and Robert, it is not surprising that Goofy loves this life as the caretaker of the two.