This one’s for Bob |

This one’s for Bob

April E. Clark
April in Glenwood
April Clark
Staff Photo |

On Monday morning, as I checked my usual round of media outlets for the weekend’s news, one story stopped me from everything I was doing. That likely averaged at least four tasks at once.

I’ve made multi-tasking a profession.

Usually I’m racing to meet a deadline or scanning social media commentary on stories or hot topics that are affecting people. The latter could encompass an entire work day if I allowed it.

Even an entire week, lately.

In the past decade I’ve known him, Bob has always been passionate about the arts in the valley.
We’ve always had that in common.

Post Independent sports editor Jon Mitchell wrote the story that stopped me in my tracks, a recap of the Willey Coyote 5K run held Sunday morning in West Glenwood Springs. The race raised funds for Glenwood father, husband, counselor, teacher, runner, actor, director, producer, and friend Bob Willey.

Most everyone in Glenwood knows Bob.

Earlier this summer, Bob, who has been fighting lung cancer since a diagnosis in the spring, suffered a debilitating stroke. Funds raised for the 5K will help pay for Bob’s medical bills and rehabilitation at Heritage Park. According to Jon’s story, 270 people registered for the race, some running and cheering runners on in costume to honor Bob’s playful, creative side.

That’s the side I’m most familiar with.

Many people from Glenwood remember Bob as their high school counselor and teacher. Others have competed with him in annual Glenwood running events including the Strawberry Shortcut or Mother’s Day Mile. I met Bob early on in my role as community editor, and then as arts and entertainment editor. In the past decade I’ve known him, Bob has always been passionate about the arts in the valley.

We’ve always had that in common.

I quickly learned that Bob had dedicated most of his adult life to bettering the valley, loving the mountains where he and his wife, Michele, raised a family. Whether it was the arts, sports or education, he played major roles in motivating people — especially daughters Betsy and Cassidy — to be involved in their community.

His positivity has always been contagious.

In 2006, I wrote about Bob and Cassidy for the A&E section of the paper. The father-daughter duo were working together on the Glenwood Springs High School spring production of “You Can’t Take It With You.” Always a consummate theater fan, Bob was directing his youngest daughter in the spring play.

The experience wasn’t their first.

When I sat down with Bob off stage, I asked about all the memories he had shared with Cassidy, then a high-school senior. He recalled helping her learn to ride a bike. He remembered teaching Cassidy cross-country and downhill skiing. Bob, who started producing plays at GSHS in 1979, had also worked with Cassidy in “Annie,” “Cinderella,” “Oliver” and “The Shame of Tombstone.” Their director-actor collaboration in “You Can’t Take It With You” was the last production the two shared before she headed to college and he retired. He called it his swan song.

One of the greatest things he had done as a dad.

Bob also spoke of his love for the Defiance Community Players and the experience of teaching many of Glenwood’s current champions of creativity in the arts and education world. He remembered teaching GSHS assistant principal Gayla Rowe drama when she was a middle school. In his retirement, Bob worked with Defiance and CMC Theatre on major productions. He collaborated with funny actors including Jack Green — one of my all-time favorite Glenwood characters, along with Bob. I even had a chance to work with Bob doing stand-up at Fin’s.

He’s really the funny one.

Reading about Sunday’s Willey Coyote 5K race, and how the community is pulling together to help a friend, is one of many stories about Bob worth repeating. He embodies what makes a true champion.

And he’ll always be Glenwood Springs’ leading man.

— April E. Clark loves Bob’s big hugs. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.

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