Bobby Vonda's bass guitar graced with bouquets

Probably the last time we spoke to one another was about 45 years ago when we were in Mrs. Berlin’s 5th grade class.  Every school day, we’d run home during lunch hour.  He lived off of Gastineau Avenue and I lived off of Carrol Way at the very end of Gastineau Avenue.  After eating a quick lunch, on my run back to school Bobby would wave me down and yell out my name to wait up for him.  We’d walk back talking, talking, talking.  He sat in the row to my right.  During art classes, I’d show him my latest drawing tips from my father.  During music class, he sang best, always with that big smile.  Funny how he grew up being a musician, I grew up being an artist.  Funny how we really hadn’t changed much.

I remember a loving, spirit freely flashing a quiet kind smile, a young gentleman and always helpful at the drop of a hat.  A few years ago, when I was thinking of childhood friends, I thought of Bobby; suddenly it hit me that the 10-year-old was sweet on me – a sweet innocence!  I didn’t even realize this until I was almost 50!–Goodness!

It wasn’t until attending Bobby’s memorial service last night that I was reminded he was a bass player with his brothers’ band and had played music all his life.  I forgot he could play pool.  I forgot his father was Filipino.  I forgot he was married and had a family.  I didn’t know he was a Grandfather.   Reading his obituary, I was reminded of that 10-year-old running with that free compassionate spirit.  It was sad for me to realize we did not grow up as lifelong friends – we had a lot in common:  I’ve played music, I was once a pool shark, my father was also Filipino and I was also married with a family and am now a Grandparent too.

The following is his obituary taken from the memorial service’s program:

“Robert Joseph Vonda was Raven/Beaver; Deisheetaawn, Dei shu hit.  He was a member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sealaska Corporation and Goldbelt Corporation.

Bob completed his GED.  He worked with the Forestry Service, then with a local restaurant as a dishwasher and as a Musician which became his top job.  He learned how to play his guitar with his brothers and they formed their own band called “The Vonda Brothers.”  He also played in a number of other bands with his friends Stan Brown and John Peterson and then with his beloved brother Nicholas Vonda where he enjoyed traveling to Sitka and being with him for weeks at a time; they became “Nick at Night.”

Bob enjoyed all the different seasons especially fishing from the beaches and walking along the shores collecting any interesting item he could find.  He fell in love with Hoonah and was truck by the beauty and its surroundings feeling very comfortable in their regular visits back and forth.  He received one the of his highest honors during his last trip to Hoonah and was invited up with the tribes to hold the Bear Hat over his loving spouse Myrna’s head during their recent loss of Tony.

Bob was known to family as Bobby too.  He had and loved three other special women in his life; his momma Ella, his daughter Becka and his granddaughter Hailey who is portrayed in their room.  An important quality Bob had was that he was not ashamed to show emotions and would cry and share tears during happy and sad times.  He would hold photos to his chest and talk with them.  He shared many times that one day he would be with his dad, his children and with his brothers.  I am sure that he is probably playing his bass guitar with his brothers and making his dad and children smile.

Bobby loved all his family; his sisters Jo and Jan.  He remembers and still played and sang “All I Have To Do Is Dream” remembering his sisters so his grand kids learned many older songs listening to him.  He loved his nephews and nieces always making them feel special; making them laugh or just enjoying a game of pool with them.  He really loved Nick, Donna, Bev, Ramon and Jason’s company.  He even has catch phrases that all the older grandchildren can recite like “Girls, girls I told you time after time but noooo…”  Whenever they did this it made him laugh.

Bob was a well-loved man; a remarkable person and someone we will miss and treasure as he left an imprint on our hearts.  He had a genuine spirit and loved life to its fullest.”

Pallbearers:  Bruce Nelson, Jordon Sharclane, Robert Sharclane, Jason Vonda, Nick Vonda, Jr., Clifford Brown, Franky Brown     Honorary pallbearers:  Beatrice Brown, Alfred McKinley,Sr., Marjorie Buckner, Pat Owen, Ben Coronell, Cyril George, Sr., Andy Gamble, Paul marks     Guest Receptionists:  Ellen Sharclane, Jenny Sharclane, Audrey Brown