We lost a friend here at The Inlander last month when contributor Robert Stokes passed away. I first met Bob in early 2001; he stopped by and told me he had some thoughts he wanted to get into print. After a little friendly right/left banter, I realized he had some wisdom to share.
Bob landed on the Libertarian end of the Republican spectrum, and he wasn’t happy — even though Republicans controlled the government. His columns sound like the conscience of a party that didn’t want to listen. I’ve collected Bob’s columns so you can read them under the “News/Commentary” tab, above, or by going here.
Bob served in the Army in Germany, taught economics at the University of Washington, loved to fish and had two daughters and four grandkids over in Seattle. But he never quite left Spokane Valley; he returned in the mid-1990s to take care of his aging dad. Bob passed away June 2, at the age of 67 in the home he grew up in.
“Dad was frustrated with the whole system,” says his daughter Sandy. “Aren’t we all? But he never had a personal agenda, never had anything to gain or lose like so many people in politics. That made him a lot more honest.”
That honesty led to him taking up positions contrary to conservative dogma — from defending immigrants to siding with Cindy Sheehan. Some of his writing was about dams (he liked them) and fish, but more had to do with politics and maintaining a big GOP tent. He wanted an open-minded party with fresh, young energy.
“What the Republican Party will stand for and look like for a generation is being decided right now,” he wrote last year.
For his candor, he was a bit of an outcast in local Republican circles — although he found a home with the Ponderosa Republican Club. But Bob was right about a lot of things, and that’s why he’s worth remembering.
“What loaded the war hawks’ guns?” he wondered about the post-9/11 world in 2005. “The attack itself? Public reaction? A little of both? We will probably never know. Nor will we know where a calmer public reaction might have led us. All we can do now is cope with the present, count the cost, tend the wounded and mourn the dead.”
And we can mourn the loss of wisdom like Bob’s by listening to it.