February 14, 2020

Robert Royce

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Bob Royce had a long, eventful life. He was ninety six when he died February 14, 2020, of pneumonia. A depression baby, he got tuberculosis about the age of ten and was near starving (from poverty). Then he was placed in Firland Sanitorium, north of Seattle, for a year, where he got three meals a day, plus snacks. He later said that was the best year of his life.

Bob always loved the seafaring life. After going to radio school and learning Morse Code, he became a merchant marine radio operator at age eighteen. Although he was the youngest officer on the ship, someone came to clean his room and make his bed every morning. He was amazed, didn’t expect that, but enjoyed it all the same. It was 1942, first year of World War II. Throughout the war, Bob sailed on over ten Liberty ships in every war zone but one. For four years after the war ended, he continued sailing. In all, he went to more than forty countries.

After eight years of travel, he went back to college and got his B.A. at Central Washington College, then an M.A. in library science at the University of Denver. While still at Central, he met Millie Castle who painted, drew, and also wrote poetry and prose. He and Millie married and had two sons, Jonathan and Carl. Later, they moved to Puerto Rico where Bob was a college librarian and an avid sailor, while Millie was an artist with her own art shop.

After twenty eight years in Puerto Rico, Bob and Millie moved to Seattle, lived on a houseboat for a year or so, then moved into the mobile home park on Bainbridge Island, a few blocks from the gym where he worked out every day. Over the years, Bob became a Quaker and a Buddhist. In 1990 he and Millie helped found Si a la Vida, an organization to help street kids in Nicaragua. In 2007, Millie suffered a recurrence of breast cancer and died two months later.

Several years later, Bob and Beverley West met at a Quaker meeting. Later Beverley moved into Bob’s place in the mobile home park. Bob leaves a sister, Ruth Webb of Portland, Oregon, and two sons: Jonathan of Hamilton, Canada, and Carl of Monrovia, California; Carl’s wife, Lisa; a granddaughter, Lilia; a great-granddaughter, Ella Mae (all of Monrovia, California); and also his partner for eleven years, Beverley West of Bainbridge Island, WA.

A memorial for Bob will be scheduled later.

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