Robert Lester Whitlow was born in Minneapolis to George Lester and Wanona Nadine (Ridgeway) Whitlow, one of six children.
Because of his father’s occupation with a business machine company, the family moved frequently. Some of Bob’s favorite memories from impressionable preteen years occurred in rural Colorado near Pike’s Peak, where the family kept horses and many animals, including a pet deer, which he often talked about.
Eventually the family moved to Oregon, where Bob and his twin Bill graduated from Springfield High School in 1950. Three years later they both graduated from Eugene Bible College.
During his student years, Bob worked for Safeway Stores. The twins owned a Taylor Craft airplane and earned pilot’s licenses.
Bob served as a missionary on the Yurok Indian Reservation on the Klamath River in Northern California, where for support he worked as a lumber grader and tallyman in the sawmill and taught pupils in all eight grades at the one-room Morek Elementary School.
Following that experience, he established a church in a new housing development in Cheyenne, Wyo. Then he found work in the new-at-that-time Atlas missile program as chief construction planner and maintenance planner. Eventually 36 sites were completed in Wyoming and New Mexico.
Boeing, a co-contractor, brought many employees to the Seattle area but was facing a strike, so it didn’t honor the contracts. Bob became a supervisor in the trust operations department of the Bank of California in the old building on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle. He went on to be the trust auditor.
An early desire to return to education took him to Seattle Pacific University where he earned a BA in English in 1970. Following graduation, he and his wife Beulah spent three years in England, where he earned an MA in English Literature at the University of Leeds in 1973.
While Bob enjoyed all of the occupations he pursued during his work life, his years at Seattle Pacific University as the first full-time alumni director, 1973-1975, then human resources director, 1975-1988, were especially challenging, rewarding and enjoyable.
He was described as being visionary, creative, a problem solver, fun to work with and having a compassion for people. His sense of humor and gift for poetry were appreciated by friends, family and co-workers.
In 1984, he and Beulah discovered the near-derelict Colonel Walter Crockett house on Whidbey Island. After refurbishing and renovating the house, they opened it in 1986 as The Colonel Crockett Farm Bed and Breakfast Inn. They operated the B&B until 2003, hosting over 23,000 thousand guests.
In 1990, they rescued the 1895 barn on the property. After selling the farm, they moved into Coupeville in 2005.
Bob overcame many illnesses in his lifetime, including polio in his mid-teens, multiple caught-early cancer episodes and a mild stroke two years ago.
He was an ordained minister with Open Bible Churches and considered his tenure as president of Eugene Bible College between 1996 and 1998 as “the most enjoyable and fruitful period of my life.” That opportunity brought into focus every aspect of his previous work experience: construction, banking, entrepreneurial business, alumni, personnel and ministry.
He was a member of Oak Harbor Assembly of God; he was a chaplain with Civil Air Patrol (Capt., USAF) and a member of the Wellspring Society of Seattle Pacific University.
He is survived by Beulah N. (Paulsson) Whitlow, his wife of 52 years; two children, Rick R. Whitlow (Beth) of Castle Rock, Colo., and Paula D. Pine (Bill) of Goodyear, Ariz.; three siblings, twin brother William L. Whitlow (Donna) of Phoenix, Ariz., sister Barbara J. Skelton, Avondale, Ariz., and brother Brian J. Whitlow, Eugene, Ore.; four grandchildren, Candace Mantelli (Chris), Brett Whitlow (Rachel), and Amber Fuller (Nic), all in Colorado, and Kyle Whitlow (Abby), in Alabama; and four great-grandchildren, Brody Mantelli and Esther, Eli, and Boaz Whitlow.
He is also survived by numerous nieces, nephews, in-laws and three step-grandchildren, Keith Nylund, Amber Hanson (Andy) and Missy Nylund.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters, Bette Miller and Bonita Ball.
Great appreciation and thanks are extended to the management, staff, care team and nursing professionals at Careage of Whidbey, who took wonderful, compassionate care of Bob during his final months.
There will be a memorial service at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 8, at the Edmonds Open Bible Church in Edmonds, Wash., and an internment service at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 9, at Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville.