First Responders 04

Robert Smith

April 17, 1958 ~ September 26, 2021 (age 63)


On Sunday, September 26, 2021, Robert Lee Smith, aka Rob, Bubba, Captain, Erl, Gampa, Dear, and most importantly Dad, left this world as we know it. Rob was born in Ojai, CA, on April 17, 1958 to Barbara and Jack Smith. Rob grew up with brothers Wally and Larry, sisters Barbara and Judy, and Bobo, their pet South American woolly monkey the family adopted from a neighbor - Bobo became the center of many stories from Rob’s childhood. Rob grew up in the idyllic community of Ojai, California, amongst many great friends with whom he remained in close contact for decades.

As a youngster, Rob rode his bike all over upper and lower Ojai, as his family lived in town and also managed a ranch out in the country. Living close to the golf course, Rob's first business was retrieving golf balls and selling them back to the golfers. Growing up, he would lie in bed and listen to Loggins and Messina practice at a nearby ranch.

After a good friend’s father regaled Rob with stories from his life as a firefighter, Rob’s true profession was chosen. From that moment, everything he did, every job he took on was in preparation for becoming a firefighter. He was on the Youth Crew, in the Cadet program, became a reserve firefighter, worked for the Forest Service and the Ventura County Hand Crew, and was one of the Ojai Hot Shots. In December of 1979, Rob was hired by the Modesto Fire Department and moved to Modesto to begin his career.

In 1982, Rob met Gail Hegwer, and they began a long, fruitful relationship that produced two children, Blake and Brittany, and many years of happy memories.

Rob rarely missed his kids’ soccer, baseball, or football games. Rob enjoyed wine tasting and yearly lobster diving with friends Mitch and Norm. The Smith family followed son Blake on the Minor and Major League Baseball circuit for 10 years, which gave Rob endless stories and a huge sense of pride. Rob also enjoyed testing his luck every week by playing the lottery. He entertained his college area neighbors daily with neighborhood updates and pertinent information. He loved his neighbors, his mailman, Sunday night dinners at the Ewerts, his UPS driver, and O’Brien’s Market.

Rob retired from the Modesto Fire Department in 2009 after 30 years of service. As a retiree, he joined the retired firefighters monthly luncheons and found joy in connecting with old coworkers and friends. He was a co-founder of the Friday Beer Bros which he looked forward to every week.

In 2016, a new chapter in his colorful life began when he met Jennifer Colby. They enjoyed traveling and visiting friends all over the country, with recent trips to Alaska, Montana, Palm Springs, many trips to Carmel, Pinecrest, and San Francisco, and the list goes on. They were happily married in October of 2020 and had many plans to enjoy their life and grow old together. The two especially loved to spend time as “Gampa and Jenny” with their grandson Maverick and granddogs Duke, Dodger and Monty.

Rob was predeceased by his parents and all of his siblings. He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer Colby Smith, beloved children Blake (Mekila) Smith, Brittany (Tom) Peterson, his children’s mother Gail Smith, and his adored grandson Maverick Peterson. He also leaves behind numerous friends from all over whom he cared about so much.

Rob will be greatly missed by many.

A celebration of life will be held at Big Valley Grace Worship Center on Friday, October 15th, 2021 at 11:30 a.m., with a reception to follow.

To send flowers to Robert's family, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
October 15, 2021

11:30 AM
Big Valley Grace Worship Center

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