Keith Robar
(1921 - 2008)

Keith Robar

November 6, 1921

November 22, 2008

This site is dedicated to Keith Robar, a great father and husband, teacher and author, handyman and a caring humanist that was dedicated to lifelong learning and the natural world around him.

Keith was born in 1921 in southern California but lived much of his life in Washington state.

He graduated high school from Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington and stayed in the Pacific Northwest after returning home at the end of World War II.

He was a tallyman on the Anklin River in Alaska, a B-29 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps/Air Force, a policeman in Port Angeles in the 1950s, a teacher in Federal Way and at Sealth High School in West Seattle where he retired in 1987, and an author of "Intelligence, Internment and Relocation" - a book based on his massive efforts at researching the history of President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066.

But most of all - he was a beloved father and husband.

He passed away on Saturday morning, November 22, 2008 after contracting pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2008.

He often said, "I've lived a good and long life. Who wants to live forever?"

His dedication to reason, science, and nature was something he held dear his whole life.

He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

His book is available on

You can see 3 video interviews with him re: his research on the book he published in 2000 at:
Part 1 of 3:
Part 2 of 3:
Part 3 of 3:

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (8 entries)
Although Keith and I never met, we kept in touch via e-mail, phone & PO mail for many years. We were fellow WWII combat vets........I did manage to present 6 copies of his magnificient book Intelligence,Internment & Relocation to the front desk at Manzanar---for inclusion in their book shelves (?) I informed a very tickled Keith of this a year befor his passing........Thanks to our GOD that we do have such men as Keith Robar amongst us--at times.........He shall be long
Ralph Willis (friend)
January 14th, 2009

I'm really sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great man and he will be missed. You and your family will be in my thoughts.
Martin Bartsch (Friend)
January 4th, 2009
Written by Keith Robar, Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I will be talking about real people in Port Angeles although none are still alive (I'm 86 and they would be 95 and older.) As you might expect I will make myself the hero of any story I am involved in.

The setting - Port Angeles in the 1950s. I had just graduated in September with my teaching certificate, but since it was September all the teaching positions were already filled! I had to take the first job that was available. So I looked at Law Enforcement. I applied in Renton but when they looked at my school record (straight As in University) they said they didn't think I would stay for a career in law enforcement. They were right! But I still needed a job.

So I had to look further afield. And found an opening in the Port Angeles Police Department. And here was where I learned about local politics and the interaction between local government and police departments.

First, let's take a look at our municipal judge. He spent entirely too much time at the American Legion Hall getting drunk and some members of the police dept. would take him home. Did he appreciate this service? I'm sure he did. Every police officer knew they could count on support from that judge on any case.

One day, the mayor was going entirely too fast so I gave him a ticket. When I went off-shift the Chief called me into his office and proceeded tear up the ticket. He pointed out that maintaining good relations with the mayor was good business. If the police dept. needed anything like a new vehicle, we could depend on the mayor to get it for us.

The State Patrol ticketed City Manager Vergeer on one of his trips from Seattle to Port Angeles. According to the story told to us, our esteemed City Manager told the State Patrolman 'I am the City Manager for Port Angeles'. But he got ticket anyhow. He was just a City Manager - not a big enough deal. The story got around - and every officer knew he had tried to pull rank and failed. So if he did anything out of the ordinary the officers would go out of their way to nail him.

Then one time I pulled over his son for speeding. The Chief and Vergeer himself asked me for my opinion on how I should treat his own son. That was a helluva spot to put a young officer in. So I told them, 'It's your specialty and experience, not my call. Maybe just put him on a bicycle for a year.' Since he loved his fast car so much - that would be the best lesson for him. So they made the call and they took the car away from him. I'll bet that was a good lesson for him though. Not that he was a bad kid - but hopefully he'd be more responsible.

The Coast Guard Station situated at the end of a long sand-spit is a major tourist attraction but some of the young Coast Guardsmen liked to use it for a speedway. Port Angeles is a mecca for tourists and we try to make their visit both safe and enjoyable.

I worked out a plan, Plan A, that was very effective. There was a "roundhouse"at the beginning of the sand spit which made a good hiding place for me. Now, don't try to make me feel bad by pointing out that it is illegal for police cars to hide. There was no hope of my catching those speeders, but I was able to get close enough to jot down license plate numbers before they entered the Coast Guard Station.

Step 2 was to give the license number to the Chief. He called the base commander and a few minutes later, a somewhat sheepish young man would report to Chief Eide and get his punishment (a ticket and a fine) When he returned to his base his CO would mete out additional punishment. They never did figure out that the Police Chief and the Coast Guard Commander were fishing buddies and they worked closely together.

Before you get the erroneous idea that the Port Angles police were dedicated to making life intolerable for the Coast Guardsman, consider this other story where I was more lenient.

Two Guardsmen came out of a tavern and stood on the sidewalk finishing their beer. When they finished they tossed the empties over their shoulders. Surprisingly enough they didn't spot me directly across the street from them, in full sunlight and in my police uniform. They were not drunk. Could a few sips of beer obscure one's vision?

I suggested that Harrington's Bar might have a broom and a dustpan. With these tools they were able to clean up the mess. I'm sure they were aware that I could easily write out a ticket listing several violations of city ordinances. Sometimes you don't need to actually write up a ticket to fix a problem.

Posted by Aristi at 3:38 PM

Jason Stine said...

When I was young and had my first car (mid 80s), I used to get pulled over by the local police after they would run my plates. My brothers were well known within the law enforcement community... luckily for me it must've also been known that I was the good egg in the family because after they'd ask me about my brothers and what they were doing, they'd let me off with a warning for whatever excuse they they had used to pulled me over for. :)

December 6, 2007 11:36 AM
ffelsl said...

I spent my active duty time as an Army MP. Best and worst choice I could have made.

Definitly learned that I wanted nothing to do with law enforcement on any level and I learned about day to day politics both in and out of military service.

The love/hate I have for the police is one of those things I doubt I'll ever be able to fully come to grips with.

December 9, 2007 10:28 AM
Aristi said...

There are other aspects to law enforcement that I would like to bring up:
1. Some schools are having a hard time controlling the students. Having an officer in uniform patrolling the halls solves the problem.
2. If you like surprises try an occasional locker check.
3. Parents and schools should use juvenile court facilities more often.They are very effective. In one case a single mother had lost conrol of her 17 year old son. The juvenile court pointed out to the boy the many benefits of having a home and a loving mother. He then said "shape up or you will be spending your nights in a juvenile facility.
Jason Robar (Son)
December 9th, 2008
Written by Keith Robar on Saturday, December 1, 2007
Tiny - big man, bigger heart
Another story of Roosevelt High School, Class of 1940

During the spring days when the sun was out, a fellow student nicknamed "Tiny" would bring his bass violin (a cello today?) out to the porch of the school and play for us.
Everyone would bring their lunch outside and cluster around to listen - he was so talented.

And he would spin that instrument around so fast - and pluck a string on every turn. Magical even as a soloist.

It was truly amazing that someone so young could master a difficult instrument like that.

But our Head Coach 'Tiger' Bill Harroldson saw this large, 300 pound student and had visions of a football championship team led by such a lineman. So he rushed down to the University of Washington to gather up enough equipment and uniform pieces that would fit such a large individual.

And he put Tiny in that football outfit and expected him to join the team. But Tiny refused to even try the sport where he would be required to sit on his fellow students and possibly hurt them in any way.

Tiny was motivated by the power of music - by the chance of making people feel good through that alone. He wanted to make people happy through music. His heart was bigger than his body.
Upon graduation from high school, the Seattle Symphony immediately signed him to a contract.

I wish I had the chance to have saved up some money and seen him play at the Seattle Symphony... to see and hear him play on his kind of team.

The only team that Tiny would be happy to play for was the orchestra.
Jason Robar (Son)
December 8th, 2008
[Written by Keith on Saturday, December 1, 2007]
Outrunning a speeding bullet
I was 8 or 9 years old at the time and the country was still gripped in a world-wide depression. In casting about for someone to blame, we picked President Hoover. NO ONE has yet explained to me how one individual could cause a world-wide depression.

But at the time, food was a concern for everyone.

Across the street from the house where I was living (where I got spinal meningitis from my homemade swimming pool - but that's another story), was a beautiful orange tree orchard.

One day, I went through the fence and started picking oranges right off the tree.

After a bit, I saw the farmer come out on his porch with a gun.

I was already running for the fence in a flash. Before I got there, I distinctly heard a shot ring out. In my mind, I ran faster to get ahead of that bullet and was under the fence and long gone before the bullet could catch up.

Couple weeks later I had the nerve to go back. This time I knocked on the farmer's door.

He could have said no... but he didn't. He filled up a bag full of the oranges from the ground, ones he could spare because he couldn't sell them. The ones I had tried to take were those from the tree - the only ones he could sell.

Off I went with a bag full of lovely oranges.

This was a lesson I never forgot. Knock on the door and ask.

I have great admiration for the farmers that made it through those tough days, yet still found a way to give a bag full of oranges to a starving 8 year old.
Jason Robar (Son)
December 4th, 2008
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"My thoughts are with you. I believe that that Keith's intelligence and humor made him special ... and that he shared a little of that with everyone he knew. Because of that, he'll always be with us."
Dawn Moore
December 26th, 2008
"Please accept our condolences. Our prayers and kindest of thoughts are with you during this most difficult time."
Chris Davis
December 21st, 2008
"Jason, your dad was a great man who clearly had a big impact on you and helped make you the man you are. He lived a great and interesting life. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family."
Adam Waalkes
December 7th, 2008
"I am sad to hear the news. ... And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand."
Rebecca Wells
December 3rd, 2008
"Jason, Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers."
Kelly Wright
December 2nd, 2008
"Jason, My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family, and your father. Love, Mick"
Mick McGraw
December 1st, 2008
"My thoughts and prayers are with you as you mourn your husband, father, friend."
Diane Grindol
November 30th, 2008


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