Santa Barbara native son Robert E. “Bob” Kallman, a member of the Greatest Generation, passed away peacefully on February 26, 2013, after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease. As in life, he was surrounded by loving family and many friends when he passed.
Bob Kallman’s life was defined by impeccable personal integrity, leadership and love for family, community and country.
He was born at Cottage Hospital on March 9, 1925, to Mildred and Bert Kallman. He was a 1943 graduate of Santa Barbara High School and received a bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara.
In 1943, at the age of 18, he began a career of service in the Navy, serving on active duty in World War II and then again in Korea, aboard the USS Alabama and the USS Golden City. Bob retired as a captain from the Naval Reserve in 1978 after serving as commanding officer of the Naval Training Center in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Upon returning home from the Navy, Bob worked in his family nursery business, Kallman’s Nursery, which had facilities on the Mesa, on Milpas Street and in Goleta. In 1947, he married Ruth Davis, whom he met at Roosevelt School as a child. The two of them began a storybook life of love, family centeredness and community service that emerged in America during the post-war Baby Boom era.
Bob’s work as a nurseryman required frequent interaction with many people in the Santa Barbara community. He soon became a tireless volunteer with many local service organizations, such as the Jaycees and Rotary, which benefited his beloved hometown. These groups helped him form the foundation of his public service career and life of volunteerism. He became a pillar of support for the numerous nonprofit groups he served during his life, always leading by action and example, while enticing others to become involved. This was the hallmark of Bob Kallman’s life.
Bob literally served most major nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara, from A to Z. He was particularly proud to help develop the Alpha School for the developmentally disabled, which is now Alpha Resource Center. He was one of a group of early founders of the Santa Barbara Zoo, helping procure the property and transport animals in the back of his station wagon. He instilled his community values and volunteer service in his children, always leading by example.
He served on the Santa Barbara Board of Education for six years and, in 1975, he was elected to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, where he served the county for 11 years.
Bob Kallman was a gentleman and a true cowboy at heart, sharing his camaraderie for the outdoors and horse-riding as a member of the Ranchero Vistadores riding group and Los Rancheros Pobres. He was a past president of the El Pescatores Club, a group of Santa Barbara businessmen started by local fisherman and community leader George Castagnola in the 1940s. These groups were among Bob’s favorites.
A prolific writer, Kallman co-authored three books in the 1980s. In 1983, he welcomed England’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Santa Barbara as chairman of the Board of Supervisors at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.
Bob’s common sense and integrity as a public servant did not go unnoticed. In 1985, he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a special assistant to the Interior secretary and began a career as a federal official. In addition to Reagan, he served the administrations of Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as an assistant to the Interior secretary and director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service.
Special honors and awards include Santa Barbara’s prestigious Man of the Year, Anti-Defamation League Humanitarian, Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, the News-Press Lifetime Achievement, and many more.
He is survived by his beloved wife and life partner of 65 years, Ruth; son Kristopher (wife Gwen); daughter Tina (husband Paul Langille); and daughter Carol (husband Don Barthelmess); and sister-in-law Kelly Saunders. Bob was preceded in death by his beloved son, Cliffy, in 2000; his brother, Ted; and parents Mildred and Bert. Bob had six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and a great-great-granddaughter.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Alpha Resource Center, 4501 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara 93110, or to the organization of your choice.
The family wishes to acknowledge the friendship and loving care provided to the Kallman family by Francisco Arrayga and Dr. Roger Dunham.
A funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, with a military burial at Santa Barbara Cemetery, 901 Channel Drive, at 3 p.m., followed by a memorial reception at Fess Parker’s Hilton Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara, from 4 to 6 p.m.
Arrangements are by McDermott-Crockett Mortuary.