Robert LeRoy Rehorst was born on April 3, 1934 in Vancouver,
Washington. His parents were LeRoy and Bernadine Rehorst, and he had
two older sisters, Geraldine (Gerry) and Gertrude Jean (Jean). Growing up in
a rural farming area, the family had a large chicken population and Bob
would help sell eggs to people who would stop by their house on Jaggy
Road. They also had cows on their farm for family use. In his early days Bob
was able to explore the outdoors as young boys do, climbing trees and
playing ball. He enjoyed playing baseball with his friends and spent two
years in the Boy Scouts. He loved to be outside in the beautiful Paciflc
He attended Providence Academy as a child, and graduated in 1948.
For high school he was a student at Central Catholic, and graduated in 1952.
He worked at the local Dairy Queen from 1951-1953. Bob was always
saving his money from a young age; starting with the money he earned
delivering newspapers by bicycle as a boy, serving ice cream at Dairy
Queen, and working in roofing in the summers off from college. He was
very industrious and an extremely hard worker.
He attended the University of Portland starting in 1952. He loved
college on the Bluff and started out in science courses with the hopes of
becoming a doctor. He found that the science courses were difficult for him
so after a year of struggling, he decided to change his focus to engineering.
He joined the AFROTC program and the Engineer's Club, where he served
as Vice-President. He graduated in June of 1957 with a Bachelor of Science
in General Engineering.
After graduation in 1957, he went to work for Union Carbide Metals
Co. as a production engineer. After a year working there, he was called to
duty by the Air Force. The AF sent him to the University of Washington to
study meteorology, and after a year of classes he was sent to the Incirlik Air
Force Base in Adana Turkey. He served as a weather officer, and was
granted an early release because of an overflow of officers at the time. He
received a top secret clearance during his service. While overseas, he met his
future wife, Abbie Winkle, who was dating a friend of his, Ed Pitts. She was
working as a teacher at an Air Force Base in Germany. After an honorable
discharge, he got to spend 2 months traveling throughout Europe and took
many pictures. He had the rank of 1st Lieutenant while in the AF from 1958-
1960. While in Turkey, he used his saved money to order himself a 1960
steel grey Corvette convertible. He must have been quite the sight driving
along the country roads back in Vancouver!
After the service, he went to work for Pacific Northwest Bell
Telephone as an engineer programming toll telephone facilities. In 1961 he
began working at Atomics International as a project engineer. He became
competent in the nuclear energy field and worked on the SCTI and the first
SNAP-8 reactors. He received an AEC "Q" clearance in this field. He was
one of the first engineers licensed to work on atomic reactors. He was sent to
Hallam Nuclear Power Facility in Nebraska, where he worked as a shift
supervisor for several years. They maintained the safety of the nuclear
reactors and worked on start-ups and shut downs of the systems. He got
many job offers to work at different nuclear power facilities, including ones
in Puerto Rico and Richland, Washington.
While working at AI he began dating Abbie, who had settled down as
a teacher in Long Beach, CA. He was able to make the trip frorn the Valley
to Long Beach in about 30 minutes in his Corvette. He continued to work at
Atomics International through I968.
On July 17, 1965, Bob and Abbie got married at St. Bartholomew's
Church in Long Beach, CA. Their reception was held at the Greenbrier Inn
in Garden Grove, CA. They honeymooned in Carmel and San Francisco and
then settled in to their home on Blythe St. in Canoga Park. At the time, Bob
was working as a senior research engineer for AI.
During the time the couple lived on Blythe St, they had two sons who
both died in infancy. In 1970 their daughter Margaret Anne was born.
About 1967,Bob became interested in electronics and high fidelity
equipment. He and a friend, Ron Toews, started making electrostatic
speakers in 1968. Their company was called RTR lndustries, a combination
of both their initials. The company was in business until 1981, when Ron
moved to Spokane, WA. During the height of business in the 70's the
company produced about 10,000, speakers a month. They ran the business
out of a large building on Deering Ave. in Canoga Park.
From the success of RTR Bob was able to take the family, including
his mother Bernadine, on a trip to New Zealand and Australia in 1977. This
was the first time his mother had travelled outside of the country and he was
so proud to be able to take her on this trip.
After RTR ended, Bob worked for RIMCO Resources making
electronic bed controls manufactured in Hong Kong. He was one of the lead
engineers who worked on modifying hospital automatic bed controls for
home use. He did that until the mid 90s before retiring.
He and Abbie moved into their home on Strathern St. in 1972 where
they both lived the rest of their lives. Abbie's parents, who lived most of the
year in Clear Lake, IA, vacationed during the harsh Iowa winters at a duplex
in Sun City West,AZ. On the visits to her parents, they enjoyed the desert environment
and the amenities offered by the community and also decided to purchase
property there. In the early 90's they built a lovely home on a golf course in
Sun City West, AZ.
Bob's hobbies included photography, traveling and camping on the
beach in the family motor home over long weekends. He was a typical farm
boy, able to fix just about anything in the house. Over the years, he installed
his own air conditioning, built a patio cover over the entire backyard, built
planters, installed sprinkler systems, and kept his cars running. He had every
tool available and the knowledge to use them.
Their plans to retire there and enjoy the Sun City West lifestyle were
altered when Abbie had a stroke in the mid 90's. During the next l0 years
Abbie's health difficulties only enabled them to visit their AZ home but they
never were able to move there full time. Margaret and her children came to
live with her parents in 2003. Her two daughters, Emmi (1990) and Kassie
(1991), brought along much joy to their grandparents.
Unfortunately Abbie died in July 2004, and Bob was devastated by
the loss of his wife. Having family here made it easier to bear. Justin (2004)
and Jamie (2006) were very special to their Grandpa and they were fortunate
to be able to live with him their entire lives.
Bob passed away on April 15, 2014, after a long battle with various
illnesses. He was like a cat with 9 lives his family liked to say! His tough
German fortitude made it hard to tell when he was really feeling bad. His
family is grateful for the 80 years he got to spend on this earth. We only
wish he could have had many more because we were not ready to have him
leave us. The examples Bob gave of hard work, effort, discipline, humor,
putting family first, and living as a good Catholic will remain with the
grandchildren the rest of their lives. He was a kind and loyal friend to many
and a role model as well. While our hearts are broken at having to say
goodbye, we can be comforted in knowing that he is not in pain anymore
and is reunited with his beloved wife Abbie in heaven. one day, we will be
joyfully reunited with him as well. Rest in Peace.
Gates, Kingsley & Gates Praiswater Mortuary, Canoga Park, CA.