The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, October 17, 2018, Page 18, Image 18

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Saying goodbye to Uncle Bob
By Craig F. Eisenbeis
When my wife’s charming,
but eccentrically goofball,
Uncle Bob suddenly hit me
with a very serious request,
believe me, I paid attention.
“When I die,” he suddenly
said one day, “I want you to
promise to scatter my ashes at
the top of Black Butte.”
Naturally, I assured him
that I would. That was sev-
eral years ago, and I had no
idea what his poignant request
would eventually entail.
The Uncle Bob in this
case is World War II pilot and
longtime Black Butte Ranch
resident Bob Lowery, who
founded the Sisters Dixieland
Jazz Festival. One of the early
Black Butte Ranch owners,
and Black Butte wine club
founder, Uncle Bob was a
notable presence at the Ranch
for the better part of 20 years
in the 1970s and 1980s —
although there are few of
his peers left at the ranch to
remember him.
Still, with four family
members still in Sisters and
others in Bend, he certainly
has not been forgotten. Uncle
Bob has actually been gone
for a while. He passed away,
in Arizona, a few weeks short
of his 90th birthday five years
ago this month. I’ve been
waiting all that time to ful-
fill my promise to him; but,
as it turned out, his widow,
Alma, wasn’t all that ready to
actually part with him.
This month, however, more
than a dozen of us showed up
on October 14 for a final fare-
well, with participants com-
ing from Oregon, California,
Mexico, and Hawaii. When
I made my promise to him,
I had envisioned a somber
and solitary trek to the sum-
mit, rather than an entourage
like this one with members
ranging in age from eight
months to 75 years, most of
whom are not exactly outdoor
Much of the credit for
making the event possible
goes to Uncle Bob’s great-
nephew, Kevin Chang. Kevin,
executive director of Kua’aina
Ulu Auamo (a community-
based natural resource man-
agement organization in
Hawaii), knew Bob not only
as his great-uncle, but also
as his stepfather-in-law! You
see, Kevin married the daugh-
ter of Uncle Bob’s third wife
and affectionately refers to his
mother-in-law/uncle’s wife as
“Mama Tia” (Mother/Aunt).
My wife, Kathi, remem-
bers her father’s brother
as a fun-loving jokester,
who pulled off a lot of silly
stunts with her dad; but she
also remembers him as the
devoted brother who gave
her father one of his kidneys
in an effort to prolong her
dad’s life. Uncle Bob greatly
admired his older brother;
and, when Bill Lowery joined
the Marines for World War II,
Bob Lowery left high school
early to join the Army Air
Corps. Uncle Bob went on to
become a C-47 pilot, drop-
ping paratroopers over Europe
behind enemy lines.
Kathi always compared her
uncle, both in appearance and
behavior, to actor-comedian
Dick Van Dyke. Her nephew,
Kevin Chang, remembers
Uncle Bob in much the same
“My Uncle Bob was the
first comedian to come into
my life,” he said. “He instilled
in me a Buddhist sentiment
to be playful and hold onto a
sense of humor through life’s
ups and downs. He was a
trickster who delighted in vic-
timizing my grandma (Bob’s
sister-in-law) for my benefit.”
On the way up Black
Butte, Bob’s other niece,
Carol Lowery Chang, had
this to say: “Uncle Bob is the
man who brought us all here
together. We’re sad, yet quick
to smile as we look back,
counting the memories step
by step. He had every Dean
Martin record ever made!
He loved good wine; and he
loved to fish and hunt with
his brother — my dad, Bill
— especially here in Central
Oregon. He was a big tease,
and a favorite target was our
mom, ‘Nanny.’ For example,
in our two-car caravan to his
home at Black Butte, he led
her on wild rides around every
tree, sometimes doing figure-
eights and intentionally going
The tradition of
Powderpuff Football
continued during
Homecoming week.
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starting in November.
Tune into from
5 to 7 p.m. every Sunday.
Still 4 to 5 p.m. through October.
Call in, 541-388-1110.
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Redmond • Open every day
Atop Black Butte, family members attend a memorial service for longtime
Black Butte Ranch resident Bob Lowery.
into the wrong driveway.
Bob would drive people nuts
whether he was at the wheel
of a car or piloting a tiny
plane that was usually flying
on empty.”
Although this event was
scheduled weeks in advance,
in a very narrow time win-
dow for everyone to partici-
pate, the weather turned out
to be a sparklingly beauti-
ful, although chilly, day for a
sunny October climb of Black
Butte. Uncle Bob’s memorial
service, at the butte’s summit,
was officiated by his great-
nephew, Jason Eisenbeis.
After the ceremony, Uncle
Bob’s ashes were scattered
atop Black Butte, in accor-
dance with his wishes. I cer-
tainly don’t think Uncle Bob
had any idea that his request to
me would set in motion such a
memorable family event, but
I know he would have been
pleased with the result.
On the way down from
the memorial service, we all
continued to reminisce about
Uncle Bob, who never had
any biological children of
his own, yet still managed to
create and bring together a
diverse and loving family.
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