14. The Arc of Bob Straub's Life
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277 chapter 14 The Arc of Bob Straub’s Life It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. —Theodore Roosevelt, from a speech given at the Sorbonne, 1910 One of the marvelous things about Bob Straub was his persistence in the face of his vulnerability. Bob was a human being first and had the humility to understand and accept his own flaws—and frequently laugh at them. So many humorous stories have been left out of this book that it bears listing a few here. There was the time that Bob was governor, and he and Pat were in Bandon on the Oregon coast, on the campaign trail, talking to the local people, and the reporters travelling with them, about how much they loved Bandon cheese—that it was the only cheese they served at home—and then realizing that they were visiting Tillamook the next day. Bob peevishly turned to an aide and told him, in front of the press, “It’s your job to keep me from saying stupid things like that.”1 Then there were the dozens, if not hundreds, of times that Bob flubbed a person’s name—something that politicians are never supposed to do. Len Bergstein likes to tell a story about Bob seeing a prominent supporter walking down the marble corridor in the Capitol and, at first, trying to avoid him because he can’t remember his name, then suddenly turning with a look of recognition and shouting out “Art!” This was not the person’s name, unfortunately, but he was a well-known patron of the arts, so Bob was close.2 There was the time, as told at Bob’s memorial service in the Capitol by Governor Kitzhaber, that, during his final campaign, Governor Straub held a press conference along the I-5 freeway near Roseburg. It seems that a small 278 Standing at the Water’s Edge herd of wild goats living on nearby Mt. Nebo would stay high on the hill when the weather was fair but come down from the hill when it was about to rain. The local radio station used to do “goat weather forecasts,” based upon what the goats were doing. Sometimes when the goats were down off the hill, they would walk across the freeway to eat the grass in the median strip, creating a traffic hazard. Highway officials had just finished a goat fence that would prevent them doing that any longer and Straub was there to dedicate it. In the middle of his talk three goats appeared on the other side of the fence and then wandered into the median strip and started grazing. Bob looked up from his notes and, without missing a beat, said “It looks like rain.”3 Finally, there are many stories about Bob’s ‘lead-footed’ driving, but the one he loved to tell was about being pulled over for speeding by a highway patrolman in California shortly after he left office. The officer asked him what he did for a living. Bob replied that he was retired. The officer asked him, “Well, what did you do before you retired?” Bob replied, “I was governor of Oregon.” Looking at his disheveled hair and clothes and old car the officer shook his head and said, “Well, you sure don’t look like a governor to me.”4 *** As the manuscript for this book neared completion, curious neighbors watched the progress of earthmovers tearing giant orange scars in the sloping hayfields below the Straub farmstead, on Orchard Heights Road in West Salem, and leveling the land for two new public schools. The following year, as the book was prepared for publication, students and teachers were finishing their first year in the clean-lined, modern Robert W. Straub Middle School and its twin, the Kalapuya Elementary School, located just below it. These attractive new...


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