June 24, 2010
We’ve received word that Bob Jarrett passed away in his sleep recently at his home in Colon, Panama.
Everyone who came in contact with Bob has a story to tell. Here’s one favorite: Kris McDivitt had hired Bob to make a rock garden in front of her house on Pacific Coast Highway. Bob decided to use as a source boulders from the beach at Mondo’s Cove; they were plentiful, close by and free of charge. While hucking his third or fourth load into the bed of his truck he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a sheriff’s car sidling up. He took the last boulder out and returned it to the sand, then another.
The officer came up and asked him what the hell he was doing.
“I had all these rocks in my yard,” Bob said. “And I’m just trying to get rid of them.”
“You can’t do that,” the cop said. “Put ’em back in the truck.”
Which he started to do …
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Bob was – in addition to being wicked smart, quick on his feet, a master builder of anything he cared to build, and wily – a born entrepreneur and a fiercely independent spirit. In his late teens he took to climbing in Yosemite and surfing the breaks of his native Orange County (where he was legendary for both his style and for surfing the best waves in the dead of winter in a wool coat).
He made friends easily – among them Yvon Chouinard and his wife, Malinda, from the earliest days, Dale Velzy, Hunter S. Thompson, Taj Mahal and Carlos Santana – and kept them. After running his own ambulance service in Aspen’s heyday of the late 1960s and ’70s, he retired to a paradise of his own near Pony, Mont., where he fished, built rock tubs around his numerous hot springs and a screened cabin for his fly-fishing friends to stay.
From there, Bob came to Patagonia in 1988 to work with Peter Noone and Andy Carlson, building out the company’s retail stores as it acquired spaces. The Buenos Aires store is a tribute to his taste and craftsmanship. During his last years with Patagonia, he commuted to work from Zancudo, Costa Rica, where he bought some coastal property, set up the planet’s most remote Patagonia seconds store, and served as unofficial mayor and judge.
He found loving happiness in his last years with his wife, Ruby. The day before he died, he and Ruby had been out to the local market. An infection he’d incurred while metal sculpting was healing up. The sale of his home in Zancudo had just closed. He was in good spirits.
Bob was a steadfast friend to many of us – as those who knew him for anywhere between five and 50 years can attest. We shall miss him. His spirit is with us.
Friends gathered May 9 for a memorial paddle-out and hamburger barbecue in Huntington Beach. Donations can be made in the name of Bob Jarrett to the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach at surfingmuseum.org.
– Vincent Stanley