Robert Hewitt, full-time Pine Cove resident with wife Janice Murasko since 2010, continues to serve Idyllwild with the same steadiness that characterized his 35 years of service with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Hewitt is president of the Pine Cove Water District Board of Directors, sits on the County Service Area 38 board, is search and rescue director for Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild and has recently started an archery school on his Pine Cove property.
Hewitt began to learn traditional archery in 1995 and opened his High Country Traditional Archery School in 2014. Teaching steadiness and radiating calm, Hewitt has already taught more than 400 students. “We’ve had a lot of archers in our family,” he observed. “I’ve done a lot of tournament shooting. I don’t hunt, but I love the skill of hunting. Killing animals is not something I ever do.”
It was as a firefighter that Hewitt honed his calm and steady demeanor. It is a physical and emotional conditioning that served him well in often dangerous fire combat situations.
He began his firefighting career in 1976 when hired by the U.S. Forest Service, Angeles National Forest Oak Grove Hotshots. He joined Los Angeles County Fire in 1978 and retired as battalion fire chief in 2013. During his LA County fire service, Hewitt, a proud Scots descendant, served as first bagpiper for LA County Fire Department.
Those who know Hewitt experience his calm demeanor and ready smile. There is an ease about him that puts others, including animals, at ease. And that is a good thing. Hewitt and wife Janice are key members of ARF, Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild — Murasko as director, and Hewitt as handyman and head of animal search and rescue. Murasko and Hewitt were honored in 2016 for their ARF volunteer service with the Ernie Maxwell Community Spirit Award, given annually by the Idyllwild Town Crier.
Hewitt said he and Janice became aware of ARF when he played bagpipe one weekend at Oakwood Village where ARF was then headquartered. “We had bought a weekend home in 2001,” said Hewitt, “and got our first dog, Lucy, at ARF. We started by making donations and then, when we were full-time, we started volunteering.”
Becoming aware of how many pets get separated from their owners, Hewitt took classes on tracking and organized the ARF tracking service two years ago. The need was huge to find missing pets and reunite them with their owners. “We have found and reunited so many pets with their owners; about 75- to 80-percent success rate,” said Hewitt. “There is a real satisfaction in doing that. It makes me feel good.”
Hewitt said reuniting lost pets with owners is assisted if the animal is well behaved, has an up-to-date collar and tag with a phone number, and is micro-chipped. “ARF provides micro-chipping on weekends,” he noted. “The first thing I do when I retrieve a dog is to scan it for a chip.”
Hewitt advised pet owners to be vigilant about their pet’s safety. “Animals get stolen all the time,” he said. “If a pet is taken to a vet or animal hospital, they always scan the dog to determine if it is stolen. Someone has to speak for the animals.”