Class Notes | Obituaries
Showing obituaries submitted in the last month by graduates in 1952
Bob Koester '52 passed away suddenly on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 of kidney and heart failure just a week before his 86th birthday. He lived an active life racing bicycles, deep sea fishing, snow skiing, and flying aircraft. Bob was born in Pasadena to Louis and Anna Koester in 1928. and attended St. Elizabeth Elementary Catholic School, Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, and graduated from Pasadena Junior College High School Division in 1946. He won a football scholarship to Santa Clara University, but lost it his second year due to injuries. He worked and attended semesters alternately until he graduated in 1952 with a major in history. At this time the air force was on campus recruiting for enlistees into the pilot training program. He immediately signed up and went into the service. He went directly into the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant and completed F-89 training as 1st Lieutenant before being sent to Iceland for 2 years. He was assigned to a jet fighter interceptor squadron to patrol the North Atlantic and keep "enemy" Russian airplanes from invading our borders. He was later assigned to Presque Isle Air Force Base, Maine. From Maine he participated in "Operation High Flight" which was ferrying single engine jets to Europe. He delivered them to England and Germany for final destination to Pakistan. While there, he enjoyed the sights of London and skiing in Germany. In 1956 the airlines were in need of qualified pilots, particularly with military experience. He had a choice of many major airlines, but went with United Air Lines. He was discharged in the spring, but elected to delay assignment with United so he could play football that summer and fall with a pick-up group in Pasadena. He hired on with United in January 1957. At United Air Lines Pilot Training School he met his wife, Frieda Eitzen, who worked for the Flight Instructors. They began courting in March 1957 and were married July 1957. His first assignment with United was in Newark, NJ, but as soon as something opened up on the west coast, the two headed for Los Angeles. They bought their first home in Rossmoor. After 18 years they bought a home in Huntington Beach and made it their permanent home. In his early forties he took up cycling because his knees couldn't take jogging anymore. He became hooked on bicycle racing and trained up to 300 miles a week on weekly Sunday rides with fellow cyclists. This led to bicycle trips with other bicycle zealots to New Zealand, Italy, Germany, New England, Oregon, California Coastal rides and several Century rides. It also led to competitions in the Senior Olympics - he won in 1974. While employed with United he and his wife travelled frequently. They explored Ireland, England, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Austria, the Rhine River, Panama Canal, South America, Alaska, Australia, and many parts of the US. He loved snow skiing and hit almost all of the mountains with ski lifts in the US. He also loved deep sea fishing and brought home many pounds of tuna and yellowtail. He volunteered with the 1984 Olympics as an assistant with the cycling events. He took that expertise to the Orange County Performing Arts as Chairman of the Triathalon. He was chairman of Flying Dutchman, a fund raising group, and president of the Wanderlust Ski Club. He attended many of the opera and organ concerts at Segerstrom Center. He had a deep love for classical music and was an avid book reader which filled all the bookcases and walls of the house. He spent many weeks in the summer with the family in Hawaii at a second home. He was a natural on the beach reading a book, body surfing, snorkeling, and having a beer. He even enjoyed the thrill of a catamaran or hanging ten on a surfboard in his younger days as a member of the San Onofre Surfing Club. He enjoyed talking about all of his experiences on the bicycle or skis and reliving events with friends. He leaves behind his wife, Frieda, son Steve, daughter-in-law Yanira, daughter Karen Starich, son-in-law Chris, and son Brian, daughter-in-law Laura, along with seven grandchildren: Jessica Hobbs, Kayla, Ivy, Dexter, and Ella Koester, Nicholas, and Alexa Starich. He is also survived by his sister, Ann Cross and brother, Bill Koester and many nieces and nephews.