Robert Elton Poole (Bob), 87, of Seaside, Oregon, passed away October 20th, 2013.
A celebration of life service will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, November 2, 2013, at North Coast Family Fellowship, 2245 N. Wahanna Rd., Seaside, Oregon 97138 (503) 738-7453. Pastor Glen will be officiating.
Bob was born February 13, 1926, in Olla, Louisiana, to Erastus and Della (Hopkins) Poole. He grew up in Olla, enjoyed life on the farm with his dog Sport, and a Shetland pony. He loved to ride his bike, shoot, go to Tom Mix movies, chase water moccasins from the swimming hole and swing on muscadine vines (just like Tarzan). He once nearly killed himself jumping off the top of the barn with a sheet for a parachute, imitating a scene he saw at the movies. He was a bit of a troublemaker in school, and he was told by some he would end up in prison. When visiting the principal, Major Sims (whom he deeply respected), he wore two pair of pants to lessen the sting of the strap the principal applied to his backside. His Louisiana relatives called him "Sonny Boy." When relatives from Louisiana visited him here in Seaside, he was Sonny Boy again, and he liked it.
He lost his father Erastus when he was 10 when logs fell off a log truck and struck him. His father lived long enough to tell Bob that he needed to look after his mother, which he faithfully did until her passing. Ever the entrepreneur, he ran paper routes and became the newspaper distributor for the local area. He lost the distributorship when adult men complained that a kid was making more than they were. He had a scrap iron collection business and raised and raffled turkeys for money, as well. He also helped his mother with her small drive-inn, which was his first venture into food service.
Like many others from the South, he moved to Vernonia in 1942, following his mother, Della who was already there with John Moore, whom she married. He went to work in the saw mill, but was fired when they realized he wasn't old enough to work in a mill. He was a pretty good poker and pool player and enjoyed taking the money from the "men" in the taverns when he was still a "boy."
When he was 16 he found a woman to sign papers as his "mother" and told a "white lie" about his age so he could join the Merchant Marine. When he returned to Vernonia, he married his beloved wife Marianne Louise Tomlin on February 19, 1944. He loved to tell the story of their first date when Bob tried to kiss Marianne. Marianne set him straight and told him he would sit on one side of the car and she on the other, and they would have an intelligent conversation. He was drafted into the Army Transport Service and was honorably discharged December 21st, 1946. In both services he worked as a cook (surprise).
His resume upon discharge read: "COOK Served in Service Company, 9840th Training Service Unit, Corps of Engineers, Fort Lewis, Washington. Cooked in officers club using daily menus as guide; seasoned and cooked meats, vegetables, soups, desserts, sauces and gravies. Used both coal and gasoline fueled Army ranges. In conjunction with above work was in charge of small officers club. Tended bar, mixed and served drinks and dispensed beer for 5 months."
(For anyone that has been a server at the Pig 'N Pancake, you should know that once, while serving soup to the captain of the ship, he somehow dumped the hot soup in the lap of the captain. The captain was not pleased, and Bob was assigned another job.)
After that, Bob and Marianne lived in a cabin at Elderberry Inn, where Bob worked as a cook. He later worked in the woods as a gyppo logger and also as a timber faller for Crown Zellerbach. During this time, he worked weekends for Chet and Joyce Williams as a cook at "Williams Caf," which is now "Dooger's Seafood & Grill" in Seaside. Bob loved Chet, who was like a dad to him and bailed him out of jail (not prison) more than once. He always said his favorite work was falling timber, where he and his partner were usually "high set" (best production). Bob always liked to win.
He left the woods to manage the Crab Broiler. He did not like their offer of pay, so he said he would work for a week and they could pay him what he was worth. After a week trial, they upped the offer and Bob figured that if you counted the meals and subtracted the cost of cork boots, not getting blown out of the woods by storms and shut down by fire danger it was a better deal. He quickly became the manager and remained so until he and Marianne started the first Pig 'N Pancake in Seaside in 1961. He borrowed $100 from Dr. Ward who lived across the street and wrestled up a couple thousand dollars' worth of equipment that a restaurant supply let him take on credit. The Seaside Pig started with 35 seats and was open from 6-2 daily. Bob loved the Pig 'N Pancake and was proud of it. Although he would occasionally eat out somewhere else, he really saw no reason for it. "Why would you want to eat any place else?" For him, we never had a good enough answer. In the later years it was three meals a day at the Seaside Pig 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., come hell or high water.
Bob and Marianne created "the Pig" from nothing, and that's probably why he couldn't ever retire. It was built on his tastes and likes and dislikes. Although he would occasionally concede to serve something that he personally did not like, like teriyaki-flavored foods, it was a tough sell to get his "OK." He was an active participant in the building and establishment of all the "Pigs," even the latest in Newport in 2009 at the age of 83. He knew we could not execute perfectly all the time, but "you had to try for 100% to get 90%." He would brook no compromise or overlook or let slide the smallest imperfection no matter the time, place, or who you were. You should know, however, that one time under the pressure of the moment, he was heard to tell a server to take the toast that he "slightly overcooked" to the customer and see if it was alright. Bob was the only one that could get away with that as far as he was concerned.
Bob was especially proud and happy that his family was involved in the family business as well as many grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other family members. He really liked that. A lot of people learned to work at the Pig under Bob. "Sink or swim, the good ones would make it."
Lost in the shuffle is the fact that Bob was deeply involved in the establishment the Seaside Convention Center, and he was the driving force behind the installation of the kitchen and operation of the initial food and beverage service there. Bob and 9 other local investors each put up $1, 000 and formed "Seaside Investors Inc." They gathered and installed the essential equipment and began the food service at the Convention Center. Bob directed the food operations personally for many years.
Bob loved to hunt, especially pheasants. October was hunting season to him. He was preceded in death by his dear friend, business partner in various side ventures, sparring partner and hunting buddy Carl Hertig, who passed away in October 1997. He missed Carl. He started hunting seriously with his buddies in the late '60s and never missed a season, including last year when, he downed his last pheasant. He loved getting on the other side of the mountains (Eastern Oregon and Idaho), and it was maybe the only time he didn't think about the business. He hoped for another hunting trip to Weiser, Idaho, to Warren and Sally's ranch this fall. Maybe he could have driven on the roads on the ranch that were named after him, "Poole Lane" and "Bob's Road," one last season but it wasn't to be. He also enjoyed golfing and swimming, cheating death and driving way too fast. He loved to go to Sugar Beach, Maui, his favorite place this side of heaven. Bob and Marianne vacationed there every year since the '70s. Pastor Bob Jones of Seaside First Baptist Church led Bob to accept Jesus as his savior when he was in his early 30s. Bob continued to be a member of North Coast Family Fellowship.
Bob loved his family, and he always stood behind each member, regardless of any issue. He did a lot of good for a lot of people, often behind the scenes. There was no one better to have in your corner.
Bob did not know how to retire. He tried a few times, but always "unretired" sometimes within days, sometimes within the hour. He has finally retired since he was called home by his Heavenly Father on October 20th, 2013. Probably the only way. He died surrounded by his loving family.
Bob is survived by his beloved wife of 69 years, Marianne, his three children, Linda Poole, Wayne Poole (Lynn), and Rebecca Poole; 9 grandchildren, Sharon Poole, Jody Ahlstrom, Zachary Poole (Kristi), Alicia Poole-Hawkins (Jason), Carissa Poole, Adam Poole, Ashley Parrish (Chris), Cassie Brooks (Chris), and Justin Schneider; 18 great-grandchildren; 3 great-great grandchildren; his sisters-in-law Kathleen Alessi and Lucille Tomlin and many nieces, nephews and cousins, and of course "The Pig." He was preceded in death by his sister Gayle Moore, grandson Kelly Allen Trucke and great-grandson Richard Ahlstrom (St. Claire).