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January 20, 2004

Bob McCubbins was a tough, hard driving man. Anyone who has known him during the past few years knows that to be true, even though Bob himself would probably laugh at the description. Life was not kind to him. He died last week after many years of pain and difficulty in doing things that the rest of us take for granted. He was crippled by an unfortunate accident when he was just becoming an adult. No one that I know remembers hearing him complain. He went on to win a law degree and to serve this county, where he was nurtured and grew up, in several ways.

Back in the days before the Americans with disabilities were given official help, Bob was serving this county in elected positions. This was his jurisdiction and he took his responsibilities seriously. I particularly remember standing transfixed as he negotiated those steep staircases in the courthouse. Each step was a struggle, and for years there was no elevator in the building to whisk him from the ground floor to his offices on a higher level. Bob never asked for assistance.

Bob was an honor student at Billings high school when he graduated there. His condition must have been a particular problem to him because he had been an outstanding athlete, a highly regarded prospect for honors at Oklahoma A. & M. College (Oklahoma State University) when he was recruited to join the other young Cowboys of that era. A broken neck while working out with the Aggie team in the fall of his first year there ended his athletic career but it did not deter him from striving for success. He completed undergraduate work at A.&.M., then earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma Law School. He also was a CPA, held a degree in education and farmed 2,000 acres. While in law school he became the youngest person ever to serve in the state legislature. A busy life? You bet! He would not have been happy with anything less. Later he became our county attorney and for 26 years presided over county court as judge. Then he "retired" to devote full time to his farming interests.

Bob died the other day at the age of 84. An interesting man, without doubt, but a person we all would do well to emulate. Despite serious limitations, he achieved and succeeded where others might have shrugged their shoulders and walked away. Bob McCubbins was an icon for all of us.