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January 25, 2006

Bob Elliott was a musician but early in life he was torn between that field and athletics. He was a big man for his day, about 6' 4", and an uncertain weight. He was big enough that Perry High School's wrestling genius, John Divine, thought he could be a champion heavyweight, but Professor Bill Sharp saw him as a brass musician. Bob was drum major of the PHS band and later spent four years as drum major of the University of Oklahoma marching band, "The Pride of Oklahoma," and in the end he became an engineer. It was the right field for him. He solved a number of problems for communities and road builders throughout this state, and that includes Perry. Unfortunately, death ended a lot of his dreams.

Bob was a high school buddy. We both played in the band and went out for wrestling at the same time, but he had arm strength, which I did not have, and he also was smarter than the average guy. In science subjects, like chemistry and physics, he excelled, while I was simply perplexed by the topics. I could spell, but he understood formulas. Bob went to OU after graduating high school and immediately pledged the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, urging me to join in that. I quickly realized that the fraternity needed money pretty badly and that was a commodity I did not possess.

Bob was understanding and was always ready to counsel others, if requested. He qualified for admission to West Point but chose the Navy (as a cook, of all things) so that he could marry the lovely Mary Louise Byrd in WWII. He invited me to have lunch with his sailors at Pearl Harbor when his floating dry dock was tied up there and I was based in downtown Honolulu. In high school, he was willing to take a minor role in an improvised version of a Jack Benny comedy segment on a class program before the PHS student body. Bob was a fun guy who enjoyed life to the fullest. A good friend, on top of everything else.