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Obituary: Robert Paul ‘Bob’ Kearney

Published on October 11, 2018 12:01AM

Robert Kearney

Robert Kearney


Holly Hill, Florida

May 1, 1927 — Sept. 28, 2018

Robert Paul (“Bob”) Kearney, who died peacefully on Sept. 28, 2018 at Halifax Hospice in Ormond Beach, Florida, was born on May 1, 1927 to Paul and Martha (Wilson) Kearney in Astoria. He was the grandchild of early Astorians, James F. and Josephine (Lienweber) Kearney and Charles and Susan (Neimela) Wilson, and grew up close to his numerous aunts and uncles.

Bob was a Sea Scout and an Eagle Scout. He frequently camped at Cullaby Lake near Astoria, and Camp Meriwether in Tillamook County. He caddied at the Astoria Country Club and worked at Bumble Bee’s Elmore Cannery. One of Bob’s earliest jobs as a high school student was to work on repairs to Astoria High School after the fire of 1942. Bob was a three year letterman in football at AHS.

Bob attended Oregon State College in Corvallis in spring 1945, and enlisted in the Navy shortly before his 18th birthday. Bob was in boot camp in San Diego on V-J Day, and served his hitch in Whidbey Island, Washington, where he worked on decommissioning naval aircraft, achieving the rank of aviation storekeeper third class. He was a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves for several years.

Bob spent his immediate post-war years at University of Portland, and summers working on tally scows on Bristol Bay and in southeastern Alaska. After graduating from the University of Portland, Bob graduated in the first class of the Portland Metropolitan Police Academy and served as an officer for the department.

Bob also served as deputy sheriff in Clatsop County under his father, and lived in the Clatsop County Jail during his tenure, where prisoners would threaten to tell his father when he came in late from dates on Saturday nights. He also created the first standardized ticket book used by the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office.

Bob sailed on cruises as a purser to India on the Liberty Ship SS Peter J. Maguire, and many cruises as a purser along the West Coast between Seattle and Honolulu on the SS Permente (Victory) Silver Bow. Bob also operated a charter boat, the Terry, out of Astoria, worked on the “Mothball Fleet” at Tongue Point, and was a fish buyer at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River before The Dalles dam was constructed.

Bob met his wife, Virginia Rooney, at a dance at the American Legion Hall in Astoria in 1951. They married in Portland on Sept. 12, 1953. After his marriage, Bob worked for GE Credit in Spokane, and Boyd Coffee and Reynolds Metals in Portland. Bob learned sales at Reynolds, where he was awarded Reynolds’ “golden briefcase.”

In 1960, Bob, Virginia and their two children, Molly and Patrick, moved to Astoria when Bob became the Midwest regional sales manager for Bumble Bee Seafoods. In order to shorten his lengthy time on the road selling fish, the family moved to Illinois, where they lived in Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights from 1964 through 1976.

In 1976, Bob was transferred to Longwood, Florida, to become the Southern regional sales manager for Bumble Bee, a job he held until being transferred to the private label division of Castle & Cooke/Dole in San Jose, California, in 1981. That stint, however, was short-lived. Bob retired in 1982 to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where he lived for the next 33 years (interspersed with frequent trips to Astoria).

During his active retirement years, Bob fished, sailed and counseled prisoners trying to change their lives. Virginia died in 2013. Bob moved to Bishops Glen Assisted Living in Holly Hill, Florida, in 2015, where he engaged in lively conversations with his neighbors and caregivers, and enjoyed watching the scenery.

Bob loved fishing, boats, rivers and beaches. He was a professional Astorian; looking for anyone with whom he could talk about the Pacific Northwest, the proud Astoria heritage of his family, and the lifetime friends he made growing up in Astoria. Bob was a friend of Bill W. since 1975.

His sister, Sue Haskins, preceded him in death. Bob is survived by his daughter, Molly, of Tallahassee, Florida; son, Patrick, of Silver Spring, Maryland; grandson, Thomas, of Kalamazoo, Michigan; and niece, Anna Meyer, and her daughter, Colette, of Happy Valley, Oregon.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be made to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, 1792 Marine Drive, Astoria, OR., 97103.

A service will be held at the Ocean View Cemetery Chapel in Warrenton, Oregon, on May 1, 2019, at 11 a.m., followed immediately by a final commitment.



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