Passages | Robert E. Halverson

Robert E. Halverson grew up in Chicago where his father, a stockbroker, lost his shirt in the stock market crash. The Halversons had managed to live comfortably in a yellow brick bungalow near a forest preserve where the shallow north branch of the Chicago River provided great fun for winter ice skating and all-season hiking.

Bob’s father died when he was 12 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He had been a World War I cavalry veteran in Europe. Bob’s mom had to go to work and moved with Bob to a basement apartment with a dark alley view in her parents’ 3 flat near Logan Square.

Bob, an only child, became big brother for his girl cousins living in the top floor apartment. He worked at an early age delivering newspapers and magazines and later in his uncle’s butcher shop. Bob walked miles before the days of school buses, always carrying a ham sandwich lunch made by Grandma. He realized early in life that he needed a good education and established a good work ethic seeing how hard everyone had to work during the Depression.

Shortly after Pearl Harbor and his graduation from high school in Chicago, Bob joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed at Whidbey Naval Air Station. Bob flew submarine reconnaissance over Pacific waters and the San Juan Islands until the end of the war.

Lolly and Bob married in 1951 and Bob’s 35-year career took them overseas for several years to Germany, Norway and India.

Fondly recalling the Northwest landscape he flew above during World War II, he came back to the San Juan Islands to retire. Finding land in Deer Harbor in the 1970s, they built their current home in 1986.

Irrepressibly active, Bob served as postmaster in the local Deer Harbor post office during his first years on Orcas Island. As president of the board, he was instrumental in the establishment and building of Orcas Island Medical Center. He helped to write the first disaster evacuation plan for Orcas Island and established the current medevac services.

A lifelong diabetic, Bob worked as an active lobbyist for healthcare reform and helped write legislation for the State of Washington. He ended his career lobbying for national healthcare reform in D.C. The American Diabetic Association gives an annual award in his name to individuals active in healthcare legislation. He kept a sail boat in the West Sound Marina and taught diabetic children sailing to inspire self-reliance.

Bob passed Jan. 4, 2009 of natural causes. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lolly; his daughters, Diane and Nancy; his son-in-law, Thomas; grandchildren, May and Leif; and cousins, Mrs. Douglas Steele of Lake Forest and Jaci Wisniewski of San Dimas.

— Family of Robert E. Halverson