I attended Senator Bob Oke's memorial service yesterday and was touched by the amount of true respect for the man that was shown by everyone from Governor Gregoire on down. It was also interesting — and very welcome — to see a kinder, gentler side of the governor than we're used to witnessing.
I admired Bob, and one of my fondest memories will always be of fishing in Carl Zimmer's annual salmon derby (remember those — back before the tribes gillnetted all the fish?) at Point No Point with Bob and friends Bill Parnell and Bill Hilton. It was a cold, rainy, windy day, and the three of us were convinced Hilton was going to blow his boat apart — again — only this time, with us in it. Without going into a lot of detail about Hilton and his boat, let's just say you had to be there.
I believe Gov. Gregoire put Bob’s contributions into the proper perspective at the memorial when she said, "Bob came to the Legislature dedicated to the people he served. He was concerned first and foremost about what was the right policy, not what was the right politics."
In the highly polarized political atmosphere that exists today, Bob’s brand of true statesmanship will be missed, but should serve as a shining example for all elected officials of what the term “public service” actually means.