Anyone who knew him will tell you that Robert (Bob) Keith McCormic, Jr., was one of a kind. Born in Seattle in 1943, he was a proud island old-timer who always had a warm welcome for every newcomer and was eager to make a new friend wherever he went. A lifelong mischief-maker, rule-stretcher, joke-teller, story-spinner, and enchanter of young children, Bob would want to be remembered for his abundance of enthusiasm and his big heart, which he always said he “wore on his sleeve.”
Bob grew up on the island, just down the road from Lynnwood center, where he once got tossed out of the movie theater for throwing Milk Duds at the screen. He was the beloved son of Norwegian-American mother Gidsken Bjorge McCormic and proud Irish-American father Robert Keith McCormic, Sr., who came to the island after their honeymoon in 1937 and never left. He was the mischievous little brother to Karen McCormic Beierle, “sis,” whom he looked up to and adored.
Island friends and family members knew that the unexpected visitor arriving at the door was probably Bob, stopping by unannounced for a chin wag and a cup of coffee, eager to hear your news and brag about his own kids and grandkids.
Bob was passionate about boats of all kinds, although he always said that “the smallest boats are the most fun.” He was happiest teaching kids to water-ski, jumping ferry waves in his speed boat, or at the helm of his sailboat on a sunny day, beer in hand, heading to the San Juan Islands.
Bob was an avid Boy scout, following in the footsteps of his father (and scout leader). In 1957, he traveled with his troop by train to the national scouting jamboree held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Camping there with more than 50,000 scouts from around the country, Bob was a finalist in the national campfire building competition. Bob’s talent and passion for fire-building endured, to the delight of his family on a cold night when the power went out, and the chagrin of the Bainbridge Island fire department when he built epic bonfires on the beach.
After graduating from Bainbridge High School in 1961, Bob attended Whitman College, where he made many lifelong friends at the Beta fraternity house, reportedly having a lot of fun and also studying a little. At a People-to-People conference during college, he fell head over heels for Anina Marie Tardif of Seattle. After graduating from Whitman in 1965 with a degree in economics, Bob moved to Berkeley, California, where he and Anina married in 1966 in the garden of their cottage in the Berkeley hills, overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. In California, Bob began his lifelong career in sales at the Dymo Corporation. Over the next eight years, three kids were born and dear friends were made.
In 1973 Bob realized his dream of returning to Bainbridge Island, buying a house at Port Madison, where he lived for more than four decades. He spent most of his career as a salesman for Minneapolis-based National Computer Systems, winning many sales awards over the years. With his charm, persistence, and genuine interest in others, it was said “he could sell ice in the arctic.” A born entrepreneur and gambler at heart, Bob was always on the lookout for the next golden opportunity. He delighted in the excitement of each new business venture, and the longer the odds, the better. As he often said, he was “reaching for the brass ring.”
Bob’s final years were difficult ones, both for him and those who loved him. He suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental illness that took a mighty toll on the fun-loving, big-hearted man we had known. But he remained gentle and kind through many losses, and never lost the twinkle in his Norwegian blue eyes when he heard a good joke. He never forgot to ask about the lives of his beloved children and grandchildren, and always remembered to ask about yours.
Robert died on December 23 from esophageal cancer. In his final months, he was visited by numerous friends and family, including his three children, dear friends from his years in Berkeley, cousins from Puget Island, and phone calls from family in Norway.
For all his passion for business and entrepreneuring, his life is evidence that the wealth he truly valued was measured in his connections to others. And he died a rich man, indeed.
Bob McCormic is survived by his wife, Anina; his son, Keith McCormic; his daughters, Sarah McCormic and Mary McCormic-McInnis; sons-in-law Joshua McInnis and Benjamin Ryan; three grandchildren (his “mice”): Aidan McInnis, Anders McInnis, and Mary McCorbias; his sister Karen Beierle and brother-in-law Thomas Beierle; sisters-in-law Yvonne (Robert) Ringgenberg and Catherine (David) Tardif-Douglin; brother-in-law John (Debi) Tardif; nieces Amy (Eric) Driggers-Janof, Katy (Ted) Klinkenberg, Jennifer (Tim) Porter, Annette (Matt Coopersmith) Tardif, and Anina and Miriam Tardif-Douglin; nephews Tom (Didi Burpee) Beierle, John Phillips, and David Tardif; and many more beloved family members and dear friends. Brother-in-law Joseph Tardif preceded Bob and is not forgotten.