For great high school athlete continued to have an impact on local sports scene

I can’t say I was stunned to hear about the passing of Bob Webster last week, but I was grieved. I knew Bob had been sick for some time. Surgery obviously didn’t provide much relief for his condition.

I saw Bob during the recent basketball season and asked him how he was doing. He was as chipper as always, but it was obvious that either he wasn’t getting better or recovery wasn’t going well. I chose to believe the latter, but in my heart I think I suspected the former.

I’ve known Bob since he was a kid and I enjoyed watching him compete.

When I came to St. Helens almost 40 years ago, I saw Bob play at the St. Helens Junior High. He was such an affable, talented kid I think everyone was drawn to him. It was hard not to be. He would go on to a striking high school SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

When school was out, I think the spring of 1974, I pulled him out of class and spent some time trying to get the best “schools out” photo I could. We used it on the front page—Bob jumping in the air and clicking his heels together. I used a bench to help him get better height and took quite a few shots. I could tell he was getting tired, but he wouldn’t quit until I was satisfied.

In all the years, I never saw Bob quit anything. He was a competitor and he always wanted to win and see the teams he supported win.

I remember Bob playing football and basketball as well as baseball at St. Helens High. He was a good, no, great athlete. Baseball was always the biggest thing for him. He may have played slow pitch with the local leagues for a short period, maybe even some fast pitch, but I know they had an amateur baseball team that played regularly for years after high school.

He wasn’t shy about supporting teams. He was always there for his sons’ games. I particularly remember him at Taylor’s basketball games just a few years ago. Bob and his cohorts put themselves up in the balcony in chairs off in the southwest corner of the gym. He was there for every game and he made all of the road trips, too. I’m pretty sure he was in the balcony so he wouldn’t be heard by the officials. Bob had a wicked sense of humor, and a certain outrage at bad officiating. It was probably a good location. I knew the feeling well. When my daughter played basketball, I kept score—mainly to keep myself from spouting off during a game. I was always pleased I got seven technicals called on the other teams for not properly recording names in their books.

Taylor, of course, didn’t need any encouragement from his father to say things about or to officials. Taylor was a good basketball player, but he never knew when to keep quiet. It was probably something he inherited from his father. The “T” sign was something he became quite familiar with.

Bob loved his kids and was oh so proud of them. I know he liked kids in general. He found many ways to help teams and youngsters over the years, whether it was a monetary contribution to the St. Helens Sports Boosters or just words of encouragement. The smart kids would take what Bob told them to heart, for when it came to athletics he knew what he was talking about.

Even when his kids were gone, Bob would be at high school games. I know he went to many baseball and basketball games, but I’m not so sure about football. It’s hard to spot people in the stands.

Bob’s love of sports got him through school and into college. I never knew how good a student he was, but I suspect he was pretty good. I know he was vey smart and remembered details of sporting events long past. Ones I’ve long since forgotten.

Bob was always a joy to see and be around. His presence, his demeanor, and his knowledge will be sorely missed by many coaches and athletes. I know I’ll miss seeing him and suspect hundreds of others will too. That’s probably the reason they reserved the Columbia County Fairgrounds pavilion for his Celebration of Life this Saturday at 1 p.m.

It’s striking. I wrote a column last week about the passing of Doug Hudson, a sports fan, who loved to watch people play. Now, another friend has passed away, a superb athlete who remained a fan of sports. I had many wonderful comments about the column I wrote about Doug, and a good portion of those also mentioned how sad it was that Bob had also died. Indeed. Both will be missed by many.

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