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Former gas station owner, fire chief and pig roaster Bob Scott led life of service, humor and love for his community

by: Contributed photo, Bob Scott was Corbett’s fire chief from 1981 to 1983.

Fire District 14 trucks and firefighters will take part in the service for former Corbett fire chief Bob Scott, 76, of Springdale, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Good Shepherd Community Church, 28986 S.E. Haley Road, Boring. Scott died in a single-vehicle accident near Cascade Locks on Sunday, Oct. 22.

The community was reeling this week at the death of Scott, who was a smiling presence for 40 years and a fire district volunteer for 33 years.

Scott and his wife, Nev, who survived the accident, are long-time community leaders known for their Labor Day pig roasts, called 'pig-outs,' and for their whole-hearted support of the area and its residents.

Friends and family remember Bob Scott as a man who was fun to kid. Stories were told about his 50th birthday party where friends perched a toilet on the roof of the Scotts' Springdale home and sneaked into the pasture to paint '50' on the family's small herd of sheep and goats.

They recalled a 50th anniversary party when the Scotts asked only for rocks because they were building a retaining wall.

'Oh, the parties we had in this house,' said Nev Scott, this week. 'I thought some of those people would never go home.'

And this week they are all there, manning the phones, washing dishes, dealing with food and calls and details.

'There will be laughter at this service,' promised Dennis Bryson, also a former district fire chief, who is helping to organize the memorial at Good Shepherd, a site chosen to accommodate the expected crowd. But Bryson was close to tears as he thumbed materials in the fire station and remembered his friend and fellow volunteer.

'He was a fantastic communicator,' Bryson said of Scott. 'He could get people to work together, and you had to do that because your safety (as a firefighter) depended on it.'

Bryson said Scott was adept at dealing with people 'who were bitter, upset or a bit out of sorts, and he could see a way to get by it.'

Scott was a skilled mechanic who fixed things long after his vision failed from macular degeneration, a condition that forced his retirement from the department in 1998.

'I was his eyes, and he was the brains,' Bryson said of their shared repair projects.

Gail Griffith, fire district clerk, commented that even though blindness forced his retirement, Scott's fellow volunteers gave him a chop saw for woodworking projects when he retired. Scott used the tool to make many birdhouses. This week a great-grandson mourned him by drawing a picture of 'grandpa's birdhouses.'

Scott was chief of the all-volunteer fire department from 1981 to 1983. Previous to that he served many years as assistant chief and captain in the department, which he joined in 1965. In the early 1970s, he pioneered as an Emergency Medical Technician for the fire department and was one of the first in the state to complete his training, Bryson said. Today, 75 to 80 percent of the district's calls are medical.

Bob Lee Scott was born in a sod house near Callaway, Neb., to George and Carissa (Kelly) Scott, one of nine children in a farm family. His mother died when he was young, and Scott, barely a teenager, took charge of two younger brothers. He brought them west by train to live with family members in Oregon and Washington.

He met Nevalin Carlton in high school in Kennewick, Wash., and she set her sights on him. The two graduated from high school together in Newport, Wash., in June 1949, and got married the next month, on July 3.

'We had 60 years,' said his wife, 'Three years of going steady and 57 years of marriage.'

Scott attended diesel mechanic school and worked at a mill in Pilot Rock where he and his bride raised his younger brother, Ted. Scott then joined the Air Force where he served four years with a special reporting squadron working under the Atomic Energy Commission. Following his Air Force service, he worked in Florida until the family decided to return to the Northwest so their children could be near family.

Visiting his sister in Corbett, they often drove by a small gas station in Springdale that he said was 'the kind of place he'd like to have someday.' In 1959 he bought it, and the Scotts launched the business with $800 of borrowed money.

They originally lived in back of the station, stepping from the kitchen to the office to wait on customers. After 17 years they sold the station to the fire department for use as the Springdale fire station. Scott often had to leave the business to respond to fire calls. His first call was in 1965 to a fire in a clothes dryer that he extinguished with a garden hose.

Following the sale of the station, Scott worked 10 years at Reynolds Metals in Troutdale as a maintenance foreman, retiring in 1987 to build a new garage, Crown Point Towing and Repair, in Springdale, which he operated with his brother, Ted. He sold the business in the early 1990s as his sight began to fail.

He was a charter member of the Columbia Gorge Kiwanis, and the couple was involved in nearly every organization in their community.

He is survived by his sons Carlton Lee Scott of Vancouver, Wash., and Bradley Scott of Corbett; daughter, Carissa (Cris) Wells of Troutdale; brothers, Chester Scott of Elm Creek, Neb., and Ted Scott of Seaside; sister, Anna Belle James of Corbett; and half brothers and sisters, Kenneth Scott of California, Delores Kruckman of Pine Hollow, Judy Smith of Gresham and Darline Cheever of Missouri; as well as nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, with an eighth expected soon. He was preceded in death by a grandson.

The family suggests contributions be made to the Helping Hands fund at the Columbia Grange in Corbett, which operates Mondays at Grange Hall Road, or to the Corbett Firefighters Benevolence Fund, P.O. Box 1, Corbett, 97019.

A private family interment at Mountain View Cemetery in Corbett will follow Saturday's service. A Corbett fire department truck will bring Scott's cremated remains from Hood River to Corbett.