Editor’s note: Longtime Methow Valley News columnist and contributor Bob Spiwak died recently. We asked people to submit their personal remembrances; a few are included here. For many more, see the newspaper’s Facebook page.
I have many not unpleasant memories of Bob stopping in at the paper to talk about cameras, camera lenses, old days at the paper, camera bags, weird things about Mazama, camera straps, Miss Gloria, or just to get a new picture taken for his column. No picture was ever good enough and in this, I eternally failed him.
In those days my job was to edit his column, and I had endless phone conversations with him because he could write very circuitous sentences that made perfect sense to him. Bob wrote for the paper for many, many, many, many decades and I’m pretty sure he never got the gold watch he truly deserved. Bob was a good friend and a kind person. Bob counted cars.
– Sue Misao
As a part-time neighbor next door to Bob and Gloria, we had the privilege to have called Bob a very dear friend for almost 20 years. Bob was a great storyteller, both in person and via the newspaper. His favorite line, “please stop me if you have heard this one before,” preceded most stories. I never had the heart to stop him, so, some stories were repeated several times and were just as entertaining as the first.
His favorite tales involved him and his good friend Bob Cram. In fact, while we visited him about a week before his passing, he related several Cram stories all the while laughing and smiling.
While spending several years building our house next door, Bob seemed to always know when I needed a break. He and his dog would stop by with a beer and several good stories. I really appreciated those breaks. He forced me to slow down and enjoy each day in the valley. We will be forever grateful for knowing Bob, his lovely wife, Gloria, and his wonderful kids. Rest in peace, buddy!
– Gary and Mary Westerman
Bob was smart, acerbic, insightful. I’ll miss him.
– Midge Cross
I am Bob’s first son-in-law. I have two short stories about my experiences with Bob to share (I have 40 years of stories, but just two right now).
We were at Bob and Gloria’s one summer when our son, Bob’s only grandson, was perhaps 2 years old. He was ambulatory and out in the small field near the house. I was running around with a shovel, still trying to curry favor with my father-in-law.
Near the house, in between our son and the front door, I discovered a rattlesnake where you wouldn’t expect one. I captured the snake with my shovel, but didn’t kill it. Hollering for help, as I was protecting Bob’s grandson, Bob quickly showed up and ducked inside the house. He returned with a revolver, ready to dispatch the rattlesnake. As he pointed the weapon at the snake, in between my feet I asked:
“Bob, are you going to shoot one of my feet?”
“I’ll be right back,” he said.
He returned quickly with another shovel. We had rattlesnake for dinner that night — they really do taste like chicken.
Another story: Bob decided one year to raise cattle on his small ranch in West Boesel. Two longhorn cattle to be specific. One evening, one of the cows got out of the corral, and headed out to Highway 20 in front of the house. My instruction was to head out and keep the animal nearby, while Bob ran to get a rope. His assurance (remember, I’m the son-in-law) was “don’t worry, she’ll charge at you, but break before she runs you over.”
So, here I am, out in the middle of Highway 20 at dusk, with hundreds of pounds of longhorn cow running at me at a full clip. She’ll break. Right. Adding to my experience was that the local deer named Molly had arrived to watch, as this was interesting to her. Then we were joined by Bob’s dog, presumably to watch to see what was going to happen and report back to Bob, as my situation had taken a turn for the worse.
I survived, and the cow was saved (and later was a tasty meal or two). Seemed I’d passed the test as an acceptable son-in-law.
– Bruce Anderson
Bob has been a part of our family’s life in the Methow for almost 40 years. He will always be remembered as the Great Poobah of the SLIME corner at the Mazama Store. He loved to find edible treasures in his mailbox or on the dashboard of his car (like stale fig Newton bars). The Schweitzers will miss you. Take care, Ms. Gloria.
– Dell Schweitzer