This past weekend, Clark County lost one of our finest community members. Since the Daily 'Couve is about the joke, about finding the laugh even in the midst of the ridiculous nonsense that so often consumes our community's leadership, I've been trying to find some way to honor Rob with a Daily 'Couve. He was one of my earliest supporters and biggest fans, and I wanted to write an entry in his honor.
But the thing is, as I try to look for the laugh, I can't find one. Not because it's too serious to joke about, but because with Rob we were always laughing already.
Others will give Rob's history of life and work better than I, and others who were closer to him will give more details about who he was and how he lived. Rob touched a lot of lives.
If you're a regular reader of the Daily 'Couve, you might see why he and I got along.
Rob, with his big white beard and jolly laugh -- he actually had a legitimate, honest-to-god, JOLLY laugh, people! -- was a professional Santa. He was president of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, a group whose existence made me giggle for hours after he told me about it and we cracked jokes about what it would be like to run into that gang in a dark alley.
I'm not generally a "Christmas person," but around Rob and Diane, I became one. They shared the joy of giving and loving so broadly that you couldn't help but get caught up in their seemingly boundless energy.
He was an active advocate for marriage equality and for human rights overall, and as a wedding officiant he helped so many couples all over the area begin their lives together with joy and laughter.
Rob worked to bring people together, to cut through the crap, and build consensus and forward motion even among people who disagree.
Oh, he had plenty of opinions! (And since we agreed on many of them, I of course think they were funny, incisive, and dead-on accurate.) But one of the key forces that drove him forward on community issues was cutting through the nonsense and getting to work.
Rob brought people together. Sometimes, even people who have made a professional point of not getting along. I'm pretty sure he's the only person in Clark County who could get me to consent to having my picture taken, laughing and smiling, with a certain motion-control enthusiast/county commissioner, and a certain newspaper editor who likes cheap ties.
He advocated for putting aside the fighting and meeting people where they're at, in order to recognize differences and work through them to find common ground.
Rob Figley was one of the most honest, giving, and truly loving people I've ever met. Our community is better for having had him in our lives, even if that time was too short.
Thank you for bringing so much light and laughter to so many lives.
Thank you for reminding us that there's a common thread that binds us all.
Thank you for the hugs that tickled because of your big white beard.
Thank you for making us all a little better.
Safe travels, my friend.
If you would like to join us in celebrating Rob's life, all are welcome on Saturday at 2pm at First Congregational Church 1220 NE 68th St. Vancouver WA. In lieu of flowers, Diane is requesting that you bring new, unwrapped toys or gift cards to Toys R Us, so that we can continue to bring joy to children in Rob's honor. A memorial fund is being set up, too, and information will be available. The celebration of life has a Facebook event page you can find here.