Robert “Bob” Bowlby was the youngest of five brothers born to William Henderson Bowlby and Beatrice May (Sands) Bowlby. He was delivered by Dr. William Baker in the Clyde Maneval Sr. home across the highway from Clallam Bay School.
Bob had many wonderful stories about growing up in the Depression era. His mother, having grown up the eldest daughter of a pioneer family on Dickey Lake, knew how to raise a huge garden and keep a cow and chickens.
His dad was resourceful at finding jobs, and they lived well-fed.
The Bloedel Logging Company at Sekiu had a railroad running up the Pysht to Sappho with a trestle crossing over the upper part of the Bowlby garden. Bob told many stories connected with the trains and their crews. All of his life spinning tales was a great pastime.
With great fondness, Bob recalled being initiated by his grandfather, “Grampa Bowlby,” to the wonders of ocean beach camping — especially summers at his grandpa’s cabin at Toleak Point.
He loved telling about being transported to Toleak and back to LaPush in Tyler Hobucket’s canoe.
Bob did his fair share of passing on that cherished camping tradition.
Having enlisted in the U.S. Navy before his 18th birthday in March of 1944, Bob left for boot camp in Farragut, Idaho, the day after his graduation from Clallam Bay High School in June.
From Farragut, Bob went to Treasure Island to train, then boarded the USS Gurke and headed to the South Pacific as a sonarman third class. The war ended, and he came home on June 7, 1946.
Working different jobs in the woods, for Rayonier as a blacksmith’s helper and for Crown Zellerbach, he settled with Peninsula Telephone and Telegraph Company for the rest of his working life.
Bob worked as a telephone installer and repairman for 24 years. He said: “I have the best job in the world: I get to welcome people into the area and wish them well when they move on!”
Bob attended college at Pullman on the GI Bill with education and music as his majors. He returned to Clallam Bay to work in the summers.
He was part of a dance band in Sekiu, which included June Doran, who was another redhead and his future wife. She attended Washington State College after having graduated from Clallam Bay High School in 1950, and they “hung out” together.
Bob broke his ankle in December while learning French kick-fighting. They came home together, fell in love and were married on September 7, 1951.
They moved an entire bunkhouse to the “Old Place” on the Pysht River where Bob had grown up. Before the move, their daughter Kim and son Mark had been born, and after the move, another daughter, Karen, and son, Paul, were welcomed into the world.
Raising his children where he was raised was pure happiness for Bob. Again, the stories flowed. Life was good.
Throughout his life, Bob loved music. He played the saxophone and clarinet and sang at weddings in the area. Bob and June played for dances in Sekiu and at the Tyee Tavern.
Bob and June traveled the world on many trips as fans of the Port Angeles Symphony Players and trumpeter daughter Kim.
Bob enjoyed every day, his many friends, listening to the radio (all night), watching the seasons with the leaves falling, spring flowers and many birds, winter rain and snow, and summer sunshine.
Bob was a proud descendent of the Ste-tee-thlum chief of all the S’Klallams. He enjoyed the elders’ luncheons at 7 Cedars in Blyn and the camaraderie on the many bus trips with the tribe.
He served as a Cape Flattery School Board director for 10 years, was a Boy Scout leader, a member of the Clallam Bay Friends of the Library, West End Youth and Community Club, Sekiu Senior Citizens and the board of directors, Friends of Hoko River State Park.
Surviving Bob are his wife of 62½ years and the love of his life, June; daughters Kim Bowlby and Karen (Scott) Nangle; son Paul Bowlby; sister-in-law Pearl Bowlby; daughter-in-law Eddie Bowlby; stepsister Georgia Nelson; stepsister-in-law Hazel Maneval; grandchildren Weste, Lincoln, Thomas and Emma Erickson, Malia (David) Trick and Enoch, Annan, Tyler and Taran Bowlby; and great-grandchildren Avery Whaley and Mark Trick.
Also surviving are many fine cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Bob was preceded in death by his son Mark; brothers and their spouses Raymond (Marion) Bowlby, Eugene, George and Jim (Alene) Bowlby; his stepbrothers and stepsister and their spouses, Virginia (Jack) Purdy, Floyd, Edward (Nelda), Clyde (Leona) and Lewis (Irene) Maneval; stepbrother-in-law Gene Nelson; and stepbrothers Gene, Tom and Jim Adams.
A potluck celebration of Bob’s life will take place on Saturday, August 23, 2014, at the Sekiu Community Center, 11 Rice Street, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Contributions in Bob’s memory may be made to the Clallam Bay Friends of the Library, P.O. Box 106, Clallam Bay, WA 98326; or to the West End Youth and Community Club, P.O. Box 21, Sekiu, WA 98381