July 8th, 2012:

REMEMBERING BEING CONTENT WITH BOB By Victoria Giraud

“Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; by the yard, it’s hard.” Robert Content, known as Bob to me, had lots of words of wisdom and he didn’t hesitate to share them over the 25-year friendship we shared. “In the darkest of nights, you can see the stars,” was another one and he shared that one the afternoon we met at the Sheraton Hotel in Santa Monica, CA.

A native of Los Angeles, Bob was proudest of his many years as a teacher; he played that role, in one form or another, nearly all his life. He was always in pursuit of learning and then passing on the wisdom he had gained. His adventurous life –Navy pilot, FBI agent, running a traveling summer camp for kids, teaching gifted elementary school children—was an examined one as he grew older. When I met him, he was a divorced father of three grown children and 20 years older than me. Although part of the WWII generation, like my parents, he ventured into the unknown territory of learning about himself, evaluating why he had acted the way he had in his marriage and fatherhood. He explored and pondered various educators and philosophers and even got his doctorate in education along the way. He examined better ways for people to communicate among themselves and was always curious about why people thought and acted the way they did.

I was blessed that he was my friend. We had begun by meeting because of a singles’ ad in a newspaper. I was impressed with his intelligence and forthrightness; he was not shy or retiring but full of vigor and inquisitiveness. It was a meeting of the minds and definitely chemistry, which turned into a long friendship. He had a youthful enthusiasm, which he never lost and which made him a good friend for all ages. My grown children got to know him over the years.

He loved people but grew to cherish his independence, living in a tiny apartment in Hermosa Beach when he could afford much more luxury. As he grew older and had to give up his motorcycle, he pedaled a bike to work out at Gold’s Gym, over a mile away. He loved to carry hundred dollar bills in his old but serviceable wallet. When he felt someone needed or deserved a cash contribution, he would give the bills away.

Bob at the Great Wall of China

Although he could be changeable and a bit irascible as he aged, I could always count on compliments. He told me I was a genius and that I was fabulously rich from the love of family and friends. I could say the same for Bob, who left this mortal plane at the ripe old age of 89.

Describing this multi-faceted and generous man requires a book, and I was lucky enough to help him write his memoirs in the 1990s. He self-published it and gave it to his large entourage of family and friends. Bob was still in touch with former pupils from all the years he’d taught. He had a neatly written list of friends and family and he made sure he called them on a regular basis.

My son, Hans, remembered: “I’ll miss Bob. Even though I hadn’t seen him more than a few times in the past 15 years, I’ll miss getting the updates and hearing his stories as told by you. I’ll miss just the thought of him being around. For so many years, Bob just seemed so invincible and I could never have imagined him fading-out or away. He was one of the only people I have ever known that could actually have you believing that: You can do anything on this Earth that you wish.”

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