Robert John ‘Bob’ Preble, 96, lifelong Aberdeen resident and local historian, passed away peacefully at his home-away-from-home on Hood Canal.
Bob was born June 13, 1921, in Aberdeen, Wash., to Walter and Mary (Briggs) Preble, the youngest of five children.
He was a 1939 graduate of Weatherwax High School and a 1943 graduate of Stanford University. Entering the U.S. Navy in 1943, he served at sea in anti-submarine warfare and left active duty with the Underwater Demolition Teams in 1946. He retired from the reserves as a Lt. Commander.
Bob married Elizabeth Bregger, of Belle Glade, Florida, in 1946. Liz preceded him in death Jan. 9, 2000. While in Miami for Navy training, Bob saw a friend’s picture of Liz and said, “I wish I could meet a girl like that.” The friend introduced them and they dated for the next 30 days until Bob had reported to the Pacific Theater. As he left, Liz gave him a note and a picture—and Bob knew she was the “one.” They corresponded by mail for two years; and after Liz died, he discovered the letters she had saved and he enjoyed reliving the memories.
He owned and operated the Preble Agency for 67 years in Aberdeen, working in life insurance, securities, employees’ benefits, and financial advice. Bob began his career with Guardian Life in July, 1946, serving Aberdeen and Grays Harbor County alongside his father, Walter, who started the agency in 1929. Bob finally sold his business at age 95, still dedicated to his clients, their welfare, and their investment needs. An independent agent, he was also general agent for Guardian and he met and exceeded the company’s award levels many times over. He received the National Association of Life Underwriters Quality Award for 45 consecutive years. He was also a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) for many years.
Having grown up on the Harbor and being interested in its welfare and his neighbors, Bob knew a lot of the history of the area. Even to the end he had a good memory and could tell many anecdotes of the goings on of people and places. And Bob’s love of the Harbor showed itself in many ways over the years.
He was an avid patron of the arts in Aberdeen. He and Liz helped Aberdeen purchase three works of art, the Benny Bufano ‘Owl’ at the library (which sat in his home its first three weeks in Aberdeen), the George Tsutakawa Fountain outside City Hall, and the Gerald Tsutakawa sculpture in the library parking lot.
He was active at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Aberdeen, having served over the years as lay reader, warden, vestryman, and teacher. His Christian faith led him to value every individual as important. He received the Bishop’s Cross from the Diocese of Olympia. In later years he also was a regular parishioner at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church in Allyn, Wash. near his weekend home at Hood Canal.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Liz Preble worked as a travel agent for Durney Travel and was herself a world traveler. With husband Bob she saw all of Europe and most of Latin America. She toured China, the Soviet Union, Japan, Thailand, and Indonesia. In Aberdeen, her home for 54 years, she was active in over a dozen community organizations, including St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Friends of the Aberdeen Timberland Library, Chapter AK of the PEO Sisterhood, and the Pacific Peaks Girl Scouts Council. As patrons of the arts, Liz and Bob helped lead community efforts to install a George Tsutakawa fountain in front of Aberdeen’s City Hall and the bronze owl by Benny Bufano at the entrance to the Aberdeen Timberland Library.
The Bob and Elizabeth Preble Memorial Scholarship is open to all applicants who satisfy the general eligibility requirements.