[ ]   [ ]   [ ]                        [ ]      [ ]   [ ]
Bob Diebold: A History   

Posted by Manbird - Jan 1, 2014 - 7:46pm

 Bob Diebold: A History

Franklin D Roosevelt was president, record heat waves baked an America that had only just dragged itself to its feet after the Great Depression. The Hoover Dam was near completion, as was the Golden Gate Bridge. It was the decade the Hindenburg disaster happened – and the outbreak of hostilities in Europe – and a wiry Bob Diebold was quickly changing from the boy who shadow hopped home in bare feet from the movie theatre along hot Midwestern sidewalks, into a young teenager, full of musical curiosity and anxious to hit the road with his alto sax after a dozen lessons, even if that road, he recalls, “only reached from the living room to the annual Cherry Valley ‘Homecoming’.” This was a week-long summer carnival on the green, recalls Bob, and among the entertainers were a certain band that went by the name of ‘The Stardusters’ and featured none other than young Mr Diebold himself on sax.

“It was my first ever paid gig,” says Bob. “I got five bucks.”

It wasn’t long before he was sitting in with a swing band. “In nearby Rockford,” recalls Bob, “but then I failed my senior year in high school and moved with the family to Michigan, where I played sax with the South Haven High School dance band and string bass in the high school orchestra.”  He repeated his senior year and, soon as he was finished, was promptly drafted into the military.

It was 1943.

“I remember being sent for processing,” says Bob, “and being in this long queue filing past tables. I thought we were going to the mess hall for something to eat. As we passed by these tables, these guys pointed to us in line, ‘Navy, Army, Air Corps. . .’ - it was that arbitrary. That’s how I ended up in the United States Army Air Corps.” He could have easily ended up in any other fighting corps . . . in which case his chances of surviving World War II could well have been drastically diminished. But for a random selection, in a chow line.

Bob traveled across the Atlantic by ship. “We were all crammed in. I remember the awful smell – of men and cigarettes. Towards the end we were tailed by a German U Boat right up to where we came in. That’s how I arrived to Britain for the first time in my life, crammed into a ship full of guys, being tailed by a Nazi submarine. I was 20 years old.”

Bob would spend much of his time in Britain stationed in Thurleigh, near Bedford, with the 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) and between October 1944 and April 1945 he completed 24 missions with his crew, back and forth over the English channel and over Germany in a B17 Flying Fortress on which he was a radio operator. “It’s not something I like to remember,” says Bob. “Call it survivor’s guilt or whatever, but it turns my stomach to think about it.”

After war in Europe ended, Bob waited to find out whether he was to be sent to the Pacific Theatre of Operations, where war still raged. “Around this time, I was playing tenor sax with an off-duty dance band called the Esquires,” says Bob, “and helped put a show together for Victory in Europe celebrations. Then the Special Services HQ in London, basically in charge of ‘entertaining the troops’, put out a call to all the air bases to enter into a contest and put together a sort of short stage show. So, some guys and I came up with this small band with me on organ and an eight guys performing skits about KP duty and stuff. And, we won!

“Soon as we get back, they ask us to make up a two-hour variety show out of it and take on tour around some of the other bases -  England and Europe. So here I am suddenly heading up a five-person combo for a show, and we have this brilliant young singer, sort of a Frank Sinatra impersonator, really good; we had this magician too and ventriloquist. Our motto? ‘Make ‘em laugh’. And that’s what we did.” The successful show ended up touring on C47 aircraft as far as Nice in the south of France, even Algeria. “I guess we broke up in late 1945 when orders came through that my Bombardment Group was being shipped off to Geiblestadt in Germany as part of Operation Casey Jones, the mission to photograph all post-War Europe from the air, so the band and cast were pretty much scattered to bases all over the place, in Europe and Africa.”

While still in Thurleigh, Bob was engaged to a WAAF Sergeant named Joan who was stationed at Bletchley Park, Churchill’s Secret Intelligence and Computers Headquarters, famous for cracking Nazi Germany’s  Enigma Code, among others. At one point, weary of the tedious duties of base life, he took off for London and partied for several days, Absent Without Leave (AWOL) and on return pleaded ‘no excuse’ when challenged and was duly busted down to the rank of private by a Court Martial. “At the time I guess I was just sick of it, so I got it into my head to go and blow off some steam for a few days. When I got back I was called straight in. ‘Why’d you do it, Diebold,’ they asked me. “No excuse,” was all I could come up with.

By now, there were few privates as most men would have risen in rank, largely through simple length of service. “It meant I got quite a drop of pay before I shipped out to Germany, but I pretty quickly figured out how to make up the difference by selling cigarettes at a nice little profit, especially once I was in Germany. I was also pretty good at cards and could win some good money. But I remained a private until I got out, which was about four months later, so it was near the end and no big thing.”

Bob had decided before leaving for Geiblestadt that “being married was not something I wanted” so his engagement to Joan ended – however, Joan and Bob’s mother Pansy (Pat) remained friends and wrote to one another for some time after. “I didn’t see Joan again though after I left England. When I left Geiblestadt, it was to go back to the States.” And Bob would remain in the States for the next 24 years.


HE arrived into Brooklyn, was demobbed in New Jersey and put on a train for home, to South Haven.

“It seemed everyone had been home from the war for some time,” recalls Bob. “All my relations in South Haven were on my father, Albert’s side. My mother’s family lived around the edge Allegan. I spent the first while back gigging around a bit with a trumpet player named Marty Johnson. Later, then with my old pal George Klett and we formed a quintet with me on alto sax, George on tenor, Gerald Paquin on trumpet, Bruce Thornton on bass and Eddie Pratt on guitar, regularly playing the clubs – the Yacht Club, Elks and the VFW Club.

“I met Polly Holmes very shortly after coming home from Europe and we started going out. She was still in High School. We were married and had the twins and then Lindie came along three years after that.” During these early years of marriage and fatherhood, Bob took a variety of jobs, “menial stuff mostly,” he says, “working in a hardware store, driving an American Express truck, driving for a clean towel service, nothing I ever took to, just stuff to get by.”

He enlisted in the Michigan National Guard in 1947 – the Heavy Tank Company, 126th Regiment, 46th Division, attending weekly uniformed drill at the South Haven Armory and two week summer maneuvers in Northern Michigan. He even got to drive and fire cannons in the four M4-A3 Sherman tanks. “I took a paid, fulltime job as Administrative Assistant to a Captain Stan Wakild,” he recalls. “He’d survived having a tank shot right out from under him by a German Tiger tank in France during the war and he commanded a lot of respect from the guys in the Guard, an awful lot.” Bob left the guard in 1951 to take a job in the Daily Tribune. “Reason I didn’t re-enlist further,” he says, “was the US was starting to put National Guard divisions on active service to send to Korea, which I was not about to take part in.” As it happened, the 46th Division didn’t get called. The Korean War would last from 1950 to 1953. More than 36,516 US were killed in the conflict, 92,134 were wounded and 4,759 would remain missing.

Bob joined the Daily Tribune in 1951 and worked there for three years during which “I did just about everything at some point or other,” he says, “from writing to sub editing and photography. I covered hundreds of stories.” But they were not always of the cozy local kind. “One time, I was sent out to cover a light aircraft crash about ten miles outside the town. There was just one body, what was left of it. Terrible stuff. Just terrible.” Another time, he says, a ‘floater’, a dead body, was fished out of the Lake. “That was not a nice experience,” says Bob. “The body had been a pilot flying to Indiana. He had crashed into the lake and it had been a month or two before he was found. I remember he could only be identified by his wristwatch.” There was a fire just outside of South Haven on another occasion and the whole house was just ashes when Bob went there with the police and they found a body that had been burnt beyond all recognition. “Things like that stick with you,” says Bob, “though you’d probably prefer to forget them.”

Around this time, Eleanor Roosevelt had been touring around the Mid West “doing her good works” and so Bob was asked to go and interview her in Benton Harbor or St Joseph. “I didn’t have a clue what to talk about,” he admits, “but being the person she was, which was fundamentally good, and seeing how nervous I was – ‘scared shitless’ in fact – she helped the conversation along and we talked about all sorts of stuff, the issues she was pushing for, the good she was doing for the country. So in the end, I had enough to be able to do the story, but only thanks to her graciousness. She was a genuinely nice lady.”

The so-called City Editor on what was the South Haven Daily Tribune was a big woman, recalls Bob. “Betty Bradshaw - she was there for about a year before she got a better job over in the St Joseph Herald or somewhere, so I was moved up to City Editor for the last year or two Ie was there, until I got a job with the Register Republic in Rockford and moved the family to Illinois.” It was here they would have Rob, who grew up to be a star-crossed genius and falconer.

Bob had actually applied for a job on the Morning Star. It was a dual publication - the morning paper was called the Star and the evening publication was the Register Republic. “I had applied for the job on the Star but they were full. The guy liked my letter so much though, he passed it over to the Register Republic and they got in touch, so I went to work for them for the next six years.”

During those years, he joined the American Federation of Musicians and played piano several nights a week at the King of Clubs. “ It was just a few yards from the News Tower, with the Jack Brand Quartet with Johnny Porrazzo, who’d played with the jazz fiddler Joe Venute, and Bob Carter from the Benny Goodman Band.” The highlight of those years was a one-night stand-in with the great Satchmo – Louis Armstrong.


IT WAS 1954 when Bob and family moved to Rockford – and 1960 when they made the move to California, by which time the long and harsh, snowy winters had gone from tiresome to intolerable. “I couldn’t stand it anymore and wanted a change,” he says. “The twins were about age 11 or 12, Lindie was nine and Rob was three.

“Rex Carney, the managing editor on the Register Republic, had a lot of connections and I told him I was interested in a job in California, and so Rex suggested a friend of his at the Riverside paper outside LA, near San Bernadino - and at the LA Times. Soon as I heard the LA Times, I thought ‘yeah, that’s it. That’s where I want to work, so Rex recommended I write to the managing editor, which I did, and I got an invitation to come and try out.” Bob flew in a propeller plane – “a terrible six or seven hour trip” he says, “from Chicago to LA.”

Bob tried out as a sub editor. “They said yeah, okay, you can start tomorrow. Of course, I explained I couldn’t do that. I still had a house and a family back in Rockford. So they said, fine, you can have a week. But I had a different start date in mind, in about three months, in June, and they held the spot until I got there.”

And so Bob took the family in a 16' silver Airstream trailer and followed Route 66 all the way to California. “It was quite an experience and took about a week,” he remembers. “Along the way, we stopped in Tulsa, Arizona, to see Polly's aunt and uncle there, and spent a night with them and then continued on our way.” That famous highway has changed little in the many decades since. They built an interstate highway, but a lot of Route 66 just stayed there, frozen in time.

“When we got to Los Angeles,” remembers Bob, “we found a trailer park close to the city where I went to and from the office each day for a week or two while we house-hunted, finally finding a place in Pomona, which we bought straight away.” They would live here for the next decade.

“The LA Times was a great place to work at that time,” recalls Bob. “They were non union. California was not really big on unions. Where there were unions, there was trouble.” The Times had resisted unions. They’d had a big war with them sometime between 1910 and 1920, and the unions, or someone affiliated with them, blew up the Times with a bomb. The owners, the Chandler family, rebuilt the Times in the building that it is in today, “on First and Spring streets,” says Bob, “-and they built in like a fortress, with bomb-proof walls three feet thick. Chandler was driven around in a big limousine with a cannon mounted in the front.

“Around the time I started work there, it was a great place for employees and you could get anything you wanted. Baseball tickets, Disneyland - anything. They had a special department for arranging that kind of thing. They really treated you well.”

Bob would work there for 10 years, “but, in the end,” he says, “I had no regrets about moving on. I had fond memories of my time there and the people I worked with but I had enough of the whole LA scene by 1969/70. The whole atmosphere  of the city had become so bad, I just wanted to get out of it entirely, the assassinations, the gangs, race riots one after another, utter turmoil. It was horrible.” It was a time of drastic change. The Vietnam War was happening. “It was all very exciting at first,” says Bob, “no one had seen anything like it – but it was sickening in the end. Something that had been building through the ‘60s, to the Kennedys being shot – and Martin Luther King. Everyone had their own feelings about the assassination of MLK, but it bothered the hell out of me.” Bob had interviewed King just weeks before the iconic figure was shot. “I got the chance for an interview at Pasadena City College, where King was talking and a lot of projects were going on around the area. I just happened to be in the newsroom that day and Jim, the editor of the section, said go over there and interview him. So I did – and I found him to be a very interesting man, but the article was nothing special, just a small thing. It went in and a few weeks later, King was shot dead.”

It was the culmination of many of these terrible things that bothered Bob to the extent that “I simply didn’t want to be there anymore,” he says. He had taken a brief, exploratory trip to Ireland in 1969 and decided to write a historical novel there and, in 1970, took a year off from the Times and brought the family, minus the twins, who had left home by now, to Dublin.

Not long before he left the States, however, he wrote a short series of articles for the LA Times about runaway teens, of which there had been a spate at that time in suburban Los Angeles. Bob’s report centered on the fact that many such runaways seldom actually strayed vetry far from home, but were often stashed away by friends nearby. The article won Bob a prestigious newspaper award and a number of shares in the paper, as good a parting shot to the States as any you could hope for.

Arriving in Ireland in 1970 from Los Angeles of the time, was like going back in time. “I’d never seen so many chimneys,” Bob remembers. Everything was low-rise and smoky. Dublin rumbled along, all double decker buses, raincoats and hats in the rain, under a pall of exhaust fumes and the thick aromas of beer hops at the nearby Guinness factory, and the roasting of coffee beans at Bewleys. “I remember that smell, hops and coffee.”

The family - Bob and Polly, their 12-year-old son Rob, Lindie who must have been in her early twenties by now, and daughter Julie’s son David, who they had taken guardianship of – moved in to lodgings in a smelly, aging Edwardian house in Ranelagh for several weeks, as they waited for their stuff to arrive by ship from the States.

“We rented a house in Cabinteely then while I was doing research for the book and writing some freelance stuff about Ireland, for the Times back in California, mostly travel, fashion and shopping related features.” After a few months, Bob spotted an advertisement in one of the Irish dailies looking for someone to live in a house in Wexford. The house, called ‘Yonder Tara’, near a hamlet called Castletown, between Arklow and Gorey, was perched at the top of a cliff on a bleak coastal dirt-road and it was a fraction of the rental house of the modern bungalow they’d been living in.

They moved in and stayed throughout a winter there as Bob wrote, then got a job, as the money began to run out, working nights on the news editorial desk at RTE in Dublin. “I drove back and forth on these terrible roads as they were back then, some 50 miles each way, in all kinds of weather.” Around this time, the family became friends with the owners of a nearby pub called the Golden Anchor, and Bob demonstrated considerable woodworking skills when paid to help extend the bar into a broad lounge area there.

At this time, Lindie was an infrequent visitor, living mostly in Dublin, where she was to meet Kieran Spain, whom she would eventually marry and have two daughters with. Rob had mercifully parted company with the brutal Laurentian Brothers who ran the school he’d gone to in Cabinteely, and was now attending Arklow Tech. David was the only non-national – and non-Catholic – in a small parochial school, not 10 minutes drive from the house. Bob would drive the boys to school, often pretending, after dropping off Rob, that the car was a submarine and that the cows in the fields they passed were whales.

In many ways, it was an idyllic time – about as far from Los Angeles life as imaginable – living in a small country house belonging to the widow of an English Lord, below which, just yards away, the sea smashed into the cliffs, sending up plumes of foam through howling blowholes next to the tiny road that hugged the cliffs. Once, Bob lodged a piece of pipe into one of the holes so that the next stormy night that the wind blew the sea spray, the howl became a shriek. The next day, old farmers propping up the bar in the Golden Anchor, reportedly spoke in hoarse whispers: Who had heard the wail of the Banshee on the old sea road?

“I was only supposed to be in Ireland, away from the LA Times, for a year and I managed to negotiate it into two. Sometime around then I remember I was commissioned by the Times to travel around with a photographer and this tourism rep and write copy for a big picture feature for one of the supplements back in California. A commissioning editor had apparently heard back from the photographer that I didn’t seem to be writing much in the way of notes, so he sent me a letter a ways before the deadline, and he says ‘I hope you’re not going to do some kind of hack job on this’. I was absolutely furious. Hack job? So Iwrote back and I told him: ‘Only that I’m committed to the deadline at this point, I’d tell you to go f*** yourself!’ So the guy stumbles into the office of my old boss, shocked by this,” chuckles Bob, “ and he says, ‘Who is this Bob Diebold anyway? He just told me to go f*** myself’.”

After two years and with a sheaf of rejection slips – “the publishers and agents seemed to like the book,” recalls Bob, “they said they thought it was well written, but they just couldn’t figure out how to place it at the time” - the family packed up to return to the States, with Polly taking David to the Midwest first and Bob taking Rob and Lindie via London, where a sudden airline strike grounded them for weeks. “We spent days wandering around, checking out London,” recalls Bob.

He resumed his old job back on the desk in LA for a matter of months before realizing that Ireland was actually the place where he wanted to live, permanently. “I contacted Sean McCann, features editor , who went to editor Sean Ward on the Evening Press back in Dublin and I was promised sub-editing shifts on the desk there.” The family was once again on the move, renting a house this time in the quiet south city suburb of Sandycove – a dark, bleak house largely furnished with the tea chests and shipping trunks their possessions had been packed in. It took a while, but they finally found a sunny, four-bedroom semi-detached house in more up-market, middle-class Saval Park Road, where they lived for the next decade.

The Press was still quite old-fashioned in the way they produced newspapers, marking up copy by hand around a subs desk, then making up pages on ‘the stone’ and hammering out galleys of lead slugs. . . it was a dirty, mucky business carried out in offices of eccentrics, some of them often quite drunk, quite early in the day. On Bob’s first shift, he was correcting and marking up pages of typed copy, finishing each and handing them back to the chief sub editor, before being given more, until he was doing twice and three times more work than anyone around him. ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ asked someone. ‘Slow down, for Jaysus sake, you’re makin’ us all look bad.’ Bob was advised to take the union mandated ‘fresh air breaks’ every hour or so which, curiously, seemed to mostly take place in the bar of smoky Mulligans next door.

It was evident that the archaic, union entrenched Irish Press of the mid-seventies was a far cry from the modern, paternalistic organization of the LA Times that Bob was used to, but this is where he would work, among these various egos, eccentrics, alcoholics and geniuses, for the next 25 years until retirement. Interestingly, however, it would be this very union culture that would get Bob back into gigging, when a dispute in the early 80s resulted in a lockout. Under law, if you reported for work during a lockout, you were entitled to your pay. All Bob had to do was show up and sign in and the day was his. The rest of the time was devoted to gigging. “At one point, I had three or four gigs on the go around that time,” recalls Bob. His reputation among Dublin musicians began to grow as he started arranging music for various bands and gigging as far away as Wexford – and Cork, where he went on to play the world famous jazz festival with a bebop group called Jazzology, headed by singer Bob Whelan.

He fell into Dixieland in a band called Jazz Odyssey and with those groups played for years at various venues including the Cork Jazz Festival where his final gig was with songbird Ann Bushnell. He gigged with many ad hoc groups with such great players as saxophonist Dick Buckley and Rory McGuinness; Ireland’s ace drummer Johnny Wadham, guitarist Tommy Halferty, bassist Dave Flemming and others. He spent a season at the old Coliemore Hotel with singer Liza Hingerty as ‘Liza and the Lighthouse Trio’. By the late 1980s he was lugging around an electric piano due to the shortage of decent instruments in the pubs.

In 1984 Bob and Polly separated and Polly returned to Michigan.

“About two years later, I met Sally Edwards on a gig,” remembers Bob. “I got a call and she said she was looking for a band to do this Christmas dinner fundraising function thing in Cheeverstown where Sally was doing PR. The function was to be this candlelit dinner and Sally wanted it to be a nice and comfortable kind of thing so I put together a band that I thought would work well – and that was how music brought us together,” he laughs. They bought a cottage in Dalkey and a few years later they were married.


IN 1989 Bob retired from the Press. “The paper had been trying to shed workers anyway, offering all kinds of packages to get rid of them, but since I was so close to retirement age, they held on to me until I reached 65 so I left with just the statutory retirement. “The first couple years were pretty tough. I didn’t really know what the hell to do with myself. I tried writing articles and doing various layout jobs for print - putting together brochures and that sort of thing, but none of it satisfied me. It was a difficult time.”

Bob was in Dublin one day and in the window of a shop on Parnell Street he saw a little notice stuck to the window. “A singer was looking for a piano player to accompany him,” he recalls. “I called the number and met the man, whose name was Edwin Williamson. He was a cocky young guy and I said, sure – I could do the job. I’d been taking some singing lessons myself from an American woman, but I hadn’t really been learning anything - she wasn’t teaching me how to sing so much as how to breathe. So I asked Edwin, did he know a singing teacher. He says, ‘yeah, the guy I work for’. So I went down to him and met Frank, who asked me if I’d be interested in teaching piano at his small school on North Great George’s Street since the teacher they had was leaving. I said, sure, why not?”

Bob says he worked flat out doing this for a couple of years. “I eventually went out on my own as a private piano teacher and took all my students with me. I’d drive to their houses all over the city, every direction, way into the county, clocking up huge mileage, for months.” Eventually he decided to teach from home. Quite a few of his students would come out to him too – “at one time I had 16 students” - but this tapered off. “I just got tired of the pace of teaching so many all the time,” he says. “It was tough going, even though I loved it and met some genuinely talented people.” Nevertheless, he continued teaching right up until about 2012, well beyond when some of his serious health issues began to get the better of him.

Bob had been gigging through the late 1990s, getting into Dixieland because, he says, “It just had so many damn good musicians. One of the bands I played with during this time was the East Coast Jazz Band, another was Jazz Oddyssey – that was headed up by drummer Gerry Ryan. Gerry had all the connections, the sound system and the jobs and he was a band leader, so I played with him for a long time. But I gigged with other bands too, and I had a thing going with vocalist Bob Hyland (Whelan) and his band Jazzology. We played together at the Cork Jazz Festival for a number of years.”

Another Jazz Festival engagement was with the talented if rather eccentric, Ann Bushnell, and Bob recalls going down to Cork once when Sally was travelling on the same train with a guy she worked for in the Irish National Council on Alcohol. “He was going to take her around some facility down that way but we all arrived together,” laughs Bob – “not just Sally but me as well, and Ann Bushnell in this big cowboy outfit and piles of luggage. The poor guy didn’t know what to do.” That was Bob’s last Cork gig but he still kept gigging after that “until I finally got tired of lugging all the gear around.”

He gigged Sundays almost constantly and used to drive as far as Gorey, County Wexford. “I had a Sunday afternoon gig too near Dublin’s Four Courts with a good singer, a real character and total alcoholic who sounded like George Melly, named Dara O’Lochnan. It got to the point with Dara that he was spending the readies at the gig and no one was getting paid, so I’d ask for the cash up front. Dara was a lovely guy but absolutely undependable. John Wadham told a story about Dara that they’d been hired for a gig, with Tony Drennan on piano and Dara on vocals, Jimmy McKay on bass and John on drums, at the Top Hat in Dun Laoghaire for this big New Years Eve dance. They were all waiting for Dara and Tony Drennan to show up and the manager was going crazy. ‘Get the music going!’ he says, ‘Come on!’ So John  and Jimmy were desperately trying to get something going on drum and bass until finally Dara and Tony showed up, completely pissed of course, and the whole thing was a disaster.”

Tony (Scott) was a nice guy but also notorious, recalls Bob. “I had first heard him while I was doing my jazz column in the Press at the time. It was my first column, I think and I was looking for something to write about and heard this music coming out from a place called Zimmerans, downstairs in the Powerscourt Townhouse Centre. Bob Hyland was singing and Gerry Ryan was on drums. I remember sitting there listening and thinking that Hyland was one hell of a singer, but he sounded American when he sang. I thought, ‘This must be an American guy singing’ and that’s how I met the guys I got to know so well and played with regularly. Tony Scott was drunk almost constantly and when I was first sitting in with them I’d sometimes end up having to finish the gig for Tony, who’d drink himself right off his stool.” That’s how Bob got to gigging regularly, jumping in as a blotto Tony fell onto the floor and saving the gig for the other guys.

“In fact,” says Bob, “despite all that, they were good times.” It was the mid Eighties and Bob was doing his jazz column regularly, which he enjoyed and which was quite popular, while meeting and coming to know and playing together with increasing frequency, some of the many talented if dysfunctional characters who populated what was a reasonably popular Dublin jazz scene of the time.

Between the gigging and the teaching, as the house in Dalkey gradually came together the way Sally and Bob wanted it, they managed a good deal of travel, enjoying jaunts to Italy, especially Rome and to Lake Garda, also Austria, Amsterdam, Boston and more.

It was quite a golden era in many respects – the winding down of a thriving gigging scene with many of Ireland’s most talented jazz, swing and Dixieland musicians and singers; the refining of a teaching career that went from teaching music and piano to hundreds of youngsters passing through a busy city centre school over years, to coaching talented and dedicated young adults, among these the very occasional, and particularly satisfying, passionate protégé; then sunny vacations of wine and good food, sights and fine times with Sally, who was the love, then wife, who he found, not surprisingly, through the pursuit of his foremost passion, piano and its performance, always with the best musicians he could find, proving perhaps that things somehow fall into place when you ‘re on the right path, when you follow that passion.

(As told to Dave Diebold, 2013)


19 comments on this journal entry.

rachlan Avatar

Location: nyc

Posted: Jan 10, 2014 - 11:28am

{#Cheers} to a great life.
thanks for sharing this.
Still here somewhere....
onlylynne Avatar

Location: On a bluff near the Missouri River

Posted: Jan 10, 2014 - 12:07am

Thank you for sharing this.
Everyone has a story. I am glad you shared his story. {#Good-vibes}
About three bricks shy of a load
steeler Avatar

Location: Perched on the precipice of the cauldron of truth

Posted: Jan 8, 2014 - 3:24pm

nice tribute

meower Avatar

Location: i believe, i believe, it's silly, but I believe

Posted: Jan 6, 2014 - 1:22pm

Wow. Quite a life.
Living with passion
Alexandra Avatar

Location: PNW

Posted: Jan 4, 2014 - 10:45am

What a tribute...what a LIFE lived!  Thanks, R.
May he rest in peace.
swell_sailor Avatar

Location: The Gorge

Posted: Jan 4, 2014 - 9:12am


Beanie Avatar

Location: under the jellicle moon

Posted: Jan 3, 2014 - 6:19am

To you, Bob and to those who carry on
I get around
haresfur Avatar

Location: The Golden Triangle

Posted: Jan 3, 2014 - 12:40am

Thanks for sharing this.  What an interesting life!

Red_Dragon Avatar

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 6:12pm

To Bob. {#Cheers}

miamizsun Avatar

Location: (3261.3 Miles SE of RP)

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 5:05pm

What Day Is This?
helenofjoy Avatar

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 5:01pm

I agree completely with ScottN!  And thank you for sharing this.  May your father's soul find the ultimate gig. {#Good-vibes}{#Meditate}
I haven’t seen the Democrats this mad since we freed the slaves
bokey Avatar

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 3:49pm

Is that you in the front with the black hat?

 Seriously though,awesome tribute.

BlueHeronDruid Avatar

Location: planting flowers

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 1:25pm


kurtster Avatar

Location: drifting

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 1:05pm

A grand well lived life indeed.

Thanks for sharing this loving tribute of a man who was not afraid to live and have fun along the way !

I eat pints
ScottFromWyoming Avatar

Location: Powell

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 10:38am

We're all riders on this train
ScottN Avatar

Location: Half inch above the K/T boundary

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 9:02am

This is a book if expanded artfully, (seriously).  A remarkable life that produced remarkable children. I hope your "girls" somehow know of his passing.
Sorry for your loss but grateful that he had a "well-lived" life. {#Good-vibes}

edieraye Avatar

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 8:38am

"a star-crossed genius and falconer" - what a fabulous description
Shine On.
Coaxial Avatar

Location: 543 miles west of Paradis,1491 miles east of Paradise

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 8:29am

Thank you for sharing bits of your Dad's life with us Rob. He was an amazing man who lived a good, long life and had an amazing son named Rob. We are all very thankful to Bob for that. RIP, Bob.{#Meditate}


Antigone Avatar

Location: A house, in a Virginian Valley

Posted: Jan 2, 2014 - 6:15am


Rest in peace, Bob.