He was born in Detroit, on Feb. 20, 1931, to Metha Fleischer Markin and Morris Markin. It was in the state of Washington that he spent his childhood, first at the foot of Mount Rainier in the little town of Burnett, where he caught fish with his hands in the creek below the coal mine where his grandfather had lost his life in an explosion. When his parents separated, he lived with his mother and sister Marilyn in Tacoma and built his first race car, a go-cart he raced down the hill into the city streets.
Moving to West Riverside, Calif., in 1946, Bob worked at Palaneck’s Service Station to help support his mother and sister and met his lifelong friend Whit Caleb Whitbeck at Central Junior High School. In high school he and Whit received flying lessons as pay for their work at the West Riverside Airport at a rate of one hour flying lesson for 10 hours work. He soon joined the Civil Air Patrol, an experience that would lead him into service in the California Air National Guard as a radar operator.
Robert went on active duty in the Air Force as radar operator and then as military police officer during the Korean War. On his return, he worked for the California Department of Forestry as a forest fire truck driver, and joined the Riverside Police Department in 1955 as a motorcycle traffic officer. In 1965 he became a California Highway Patrol officer and served for 10 years in Riverside and northern Humboldt County.
From 1970 to 1975 Robert served as Petty Officer in the Coast Guard Reserves aboard the Sunrise and other vessels, out of Brookings Coast Guard Station, from St. George Reef to Cape Mendocino. In 1975 he owned the Ocean Grove lodge, restaurant and bar in Trinidad for a short time, then worked as a commercial salmon fisherman for eight years as captain of the Wayward Wind and the Pisces.
Moving off the ocean to manage Decker’s Oceanside Lodge in Trinidad on a fulltime basis, he met and married his wife Valerie and with her started Markin Trucking in 1986 as an independent operator hauling lumber throughout California, along with several generations of his boxer dogs as co-pilots.
An avid racer, Bob drove a midget in the first Riverside 400 in the 1950s, then drove dirt and asphalt late model stock cars in Northern California. His last race car was a thunder roadster that he raced until the age of 75.
In 2005 he bought the American Maid in Crescent City, ran it as a pleasure boat and registered it as a commercial salmon boat. The boat was sunk in the March 2011 tsunami, but Bob doggedly repaired another, bigger boat that he renamed the American Maid, and it floats proudly in the harbor.
Bob led a life of adventure, hard work, and patriotic pride, with dry humor and a tender heart. He is survived by his wife Valerie, his son Robert, brother Paul Decker, sister Marilyn Whitbeck, niece Barbi Whitbeck, grand-nephew Will Melson, and nephew Dustin Decker. He leaves behind two lonely boxers, Duchess and Seagram.
A graveside service will be conducted on Tuesday, February 19, at 2 p.m. in Crescent City by the Marine Honor Guard at the Del Norte Veterans Cemetery, 400 Cooper St., Crescent City. After the service friends and family are invited to proceed to the oceanside parking lot of the Brother Jonathan Memorial, at 9th and Pebble Beach Drive in Crescent City, to feed the birds, as Bob always liked to do, and then to a gathering in his memory up the street at 1375 S. Pebble Beach Dr.
Contributions may be made in Bob’s name to www.pva.org or National Rifle Association of America, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, OR 22030 or 800-392-8683.
Please sign the family’s online guestbook at wiersmortuary.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Wier’s Mortuary Chapel, Crescent City.