Just Doing Our Job

We received a Letter to the Editor (printed in this issue on page 6) accusing us of crossing the line “between philosophical elitist and bigot,” by our printed disdain of Affordable Housing programs. Specifically, it was our warning to Montecito residents that if work doesn’t begin at the Miramar sometime soon, the Affordable Housing lobbyists are going to target it as a potential site for dense housing. Our belief is that such programs benefit few people, and that the likely beneficiaries of state-county-city-controlled housing are government workers and their families and friends, for the simple reason that they are best positioned to weave their way through the web of bureaucratic tape. In articles in this paper and in the News-Press, Kim Seefeld has already revealed a 25% delinquency or outright fraud ratio in the program. County Supervisors have promised to “audit” the program, but Kim and we fear that will never happen, mainly because it may expose past and current officeholders and others in high governmental positions that have been able to help their friends, relatives, and perhaps even themselves, to these below-market properties. So, to be accused of “hate mongering” for writing about the deficiencies of these types of programs is undeserved. In fact, it is our job to do so.

In Memoriam: Robert “Bob” Puddicombe 1921 – 2006

Robert "Bob" Puddicombe died from complications of melanoma in his home, with his family in attendance, on Sunday, December 31.

A memorial service was held at All Saints by-the-Sea Episcopal Church on Saturday, January 6, during which Bob’s longtime friend and co-worker, former Montecito Water District General Manager Chuck Evans delivered a moving eulogy, much of which follows:

“In his Remembrances, Bob wrote ‘Remember me as a man under God, a loving and devoted husband and father, a builder, and defender of his community and Country.’ He said the Remembrances were to be used for his memorial service, if any. Bob always did have a great sense of humor.

Robert Wade Puddicombe was born in Tacoma, Washington on March 28, 1921. Bob married Virginia Hickey in an Annapolis wedding on June 6, 1944, immediately following graduation from the University of Puget Sound and the U.S. Naval Academy. He had met Ginger while visiting his grandparents in Kentucky when he and Ginger both were seventeen. Bob and Ginger had 62 ½ wonderful years of marriage together. They had two children, daughter Ilene Ann, and son Robert Lee.

Bob and Ginger moved to Santa Barbara in 1971. He was retired but again felt pulled to public service, and joined the City Water Department, soon becoming its Head. Within months, he was called upon to merge it into the Public Works Department, where, as Public Works Director/City Engineer, he established it as a superb City Department from 1973 to 1983. Retired again in 1983, he became a director of the Montecito Water District, and served for 21 ½ years, being re-elected five times from 1985 to 2006. Bob’s imprint is all over Montecito, the City of Santa Barbara, and the entire County.

If you had gone into Bob Puddicombe’s office at City Public Works in 1974, you would first see the sign on his desk “I’m the Boss.” Bob was the boss, but he was a benevolent and supportive but professional boss. Bob said in recent years that Ginger now uses that sign.

Bob has been a Life Member of the Masons and naval alumni clubs. He was also a long-time member of the Cosmopolitan Club, a group of retired professional men. He loved that Club. Bob was asked recently what was his proudest achievement, and he said it was serving as President of the Cosmopolitan Club.

Bob did not take himself or life too seriously. He had a great sense of wry humor. Over Bob’s desk sits a picture of one of his dogs. Below, it reads, “May I always be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Bob certainly was.

Bob Puddicombe had a partner in life – Ginger –that embraced life the way he did. On their 50th wedding anniversary, they joined hands and jumped fully clothed into their backyard pool, happily surprising their guests.

Today is a sad day, saying goodbye to an old friend, but it is a remarkable day to celebrate the life of this wonderful man, Robert Wade Puddicombe, a man under God, a loving and devoted husband and father, a builder, and defender of his community and Country.”