Bob Deeble, longtime Idyllwild resident and Forest Service staff member and volunteer, died on Thursday, Aug. 5 at the age of 80. In his honor, the Town Crier is reprinting, with minor edits, a 2007 message that Forest Service staff members sent to Bob when he moved into the Devonshire Care Center in Hemet.
This letter to “Ranger Bob” is a fitting tribute to a beloved community member who loved these mountains deeply. Former Wilderness Ranger Gail Heveron, with help from other Forest Service staff and volunteers, authored the letter:
“Bob worked here as a FS Wilderness Ranger many moons ago, and then came back in the 1990s as front desk staff. Bob has a love for the Wilderness and the Forest Service that is amazing. He has had MS (multiple sclerosis) for 44 years, but that would not keep him down. Until he left the FS in about 2002, Bob would hike with his specially made arm crutches up and down the Wilderness trails, just like a mountain goat, sometimes swaying in the breeze due to the MS, and never falling down. Nothing could keep him out of the Wilderness.
“Ranger Bob [was] a good friend of Candy, a 1980’s FS ranger for whom Bob named Candy’s Creek, and he made and put up the sign that stands today …
“We want you to know, Bob, that you are ever in our thoughts as we go about our daily business here at your beloved Idyllwild Ranger Station. We recall the fresh flower bouquets that you often brought in to brighten our days, and our noses. We recall seeing you with your two beautiful golden retrievers loving their ride in the back of your truck on your way to walk them on the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail …
“You will be happy to know, Bob, that the San Jacinto Wilderness has not changed. The same junction signs are still up, the same lupines bloom on the way to Tahquitz Valley, the same ferns grow five feet tall then yellow out for the autumn months in the meadows, the same wind whispers through the tops of the pines …
“We hope for good, fragrant August and September rains, and look forward to the usual day of a light snowfall at the end of October at the elevation of Saddle Junction and above.
“We have several wonderful and dedicated Volunteer Wilderness Rangers, Bob, who continue to care for the Wilderness and the public up there, whether they are lost without a map or didn’t bring enough water with them, those things will never change. The volunteers will continue on, Bob, where we can’t any longer, and enjoy every granite rock slab view, every pine cone, and every rain drop up there for us.
“You left a great legacy in the Wilderness and in our hearts, Bob.”