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HomeNL-2011-12 Bob Arthur

In Memory of Bob Arthur
1945 - 2011





Bob Arthur's obituary, as it appeared in the Houston Chronicle:

Robert W "Bob" Arthur


Robert W "Bob" Arthur, 66, passed away Monday, November 2, 2011, Born June 17, 1945 In Lindale, Texas. Preceded in death by Father TL Arthur, Jr. and Mother Natalie Ann Arthur. 

Survived by Brothers Thomas Arthur and wife Yoko, Jim Arthur and wife Gloria. Sons Jeff Arthur and wife Paula, Matt Arthur and wife Cher. Grandchildren Lauren, Preston, Brandon, Caleb and Berkeigh as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Bob was the inspiration and founder of the Southwestern Canoe Rendezvous. This signature event conducted by the Houston Canoe Club from 1989 to 2001 raised the image and knowledge of Paddlesports in Texas.

Bob also served as Commodore of the Houston Canoe Club as well as other officer positions. He served on the Texas Rivers Conservation Board for TPWD and the board of the American Canoe Association.


Bob currently was on the Board of the Bayou Preservation Association where he headed the Paddle Trails Committee and was instrumental in having Buffalo Bayou in Houston designated as Texas' longest paddle trail.


Memorial services will be conducted at 1 pm on Saturday, November 5, 2011 at the Tyler Memorial Funeral Home Chapel, 12053 State Highway 64 West, Tyler, Texas 75704. There will be a grave side service following the Memorial service at Sand Flat Cemetery on county road 313 in Smith county.

Memorials can be made to the Bayou Preservation Association, PO Box 131563, Houston, Texas 77219


Memories of Bob Arthur 1945-2011

By John Bartos


I met Bob in the mid 1980’s at the Houston Canoe Club.  In 1989, I found myself Commodore of the HCC and Bob was a Governor (Board member).  He had been to a canoe show somewhere in the country and thought that we needed to have one in Texas and that the HCC should put it on.  With some trepidation I and the club agreed.  With a small budget that included just about everything the club had, we started planning the Southwestern Canoe Rendezvous.  The location we found was at Chain O Lakes near Roymayer, Texas.  We invited canoe and kayak manufacturers, vendors, instructors and various canoe luminaries from around the country to come down to our little ole event we were planning. 


I remember waiting around at the event to see if any of these famous paddlers would actually show and fulfill our ambitious schedule of clinics and workshops.  Sure enough they started streaming in:  Mike Galt, Tom MacKenzie, Harry Roberts, Cliff Jacobson, Valerie Fons Krueger, Lee Moyer and many more. Trucks full of boats from major and specialty manufacturers pulled into the site.  It was due to Bob’s salesmanship and many hours on the phones that these folks felt traveling so many miles would be worthwhile.  And the paying customers showed up also.  We had people from Alaska, Washington State, California, Arizona, Florida, Maine and Canada attend.  It turned into a huge success.


After two years at Chain O Lakes we outgrew the venue and basically took over Huntsville State Park during Columbus Day weekend for the next 8 or 9 years.  Bob came up with the idea of having the National Freestyle Canoeing Championships happen at night under the lights.  This little event, run by volunteers turned into the largest on-water canoe and kayak show in the country.   It raised about $100,000 that went to various paddling education and conservation causes across Texas and the US.  The event created a lot of expert paddlers and instructors in Texas and several Freestyle National Champions came from Houston.


That all meant a lot to Bob.  It bothered him to see people getting out in small boats without having the knowledge that there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, a safe way and well, you know.  With Bob’s leadership, the reputation of canoeists improved in our region and the awareness of the importance of the resource were raised. Getting out to see our rivers and bays is the best way for people to understand the importance of conservation.  You just can’t get the same feeling of personal ownership on the internet or TV.


Bob also served on the American Canoe Association national board, the Texas Rivers Conservation Board created by TPWD, and was a Commodore of the Houston Canoe Club.  At the time of his death he was a Board member of the Bayou Preservation Association in Houston.  He headed up their Paddle Trail committee and in that capacity was instrumental in the creation of the TPWD designated Buffalo Bayou Paddle Trail which is the longest in Texas. This paddle trail is a real gem for Houston and surrounding communities.


Bob was a close personal friend and a giant in the paddling world.  We will greatly miss him.


Bob paddled a couple of times in the Freestyle National Championships and one time he used the song Whose Garden Was This?  Words and music by Tom Paxton and the version he paddled to was sung by John Denver.  Looking over those lyrics today, I see Bob’s concerns about the future and longing for the past.

Whose garden was this
It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers
I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one

Whose river was this
You say it ran freely
Blue was its color
And I’ve seen blue in some pictures
And I’d love to have been there

Tell me again, I need to know
The forest had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue
And birds really flew
Can you swear that its true

Whose grey sky was this
Or was it a blue one
You say they were breezes
I’ve heard records of breezes
And I’d love to have felt one

Tell me again, I need to know
The forest had trees, the meadows were green
The oceans were blue
And birds really flew
Can you swear that its true

Whose garden was this
It must have been lovely
Did it have flowers
I’ve seen pictures of flowers
And I’d love to have smelled one

Tell me again, I need to know
Tell me again, I need to know
Tell me again, I need to know

Bob Arthur RIP.  See you on the river my friend.  You were one of a kind.



Mark Andrus:

Bob was Commodore in 1999-2000 and I was Vice-Commodore. Bob was good at knowing how to handle people and keeping the  monthly meeting going, and not dragging. We spent a lot of time together discussing club business.

The Southwest Canoe Rendezvous came about starting in 1989 because Bob had gone to a a Canoe show I think in Illinois and he decided that it would be good for us to have one. Rendezvous brought us a chance to see expert paddlers and boaters from other parts of the US and Canada. Maybe I or someone else needs to prepare a newsletter article about the history and influence of Rendezvous. It would need pictures and stories from the people that have them.



Honey Leveen:



I'm so sorry I didn't get to know him that well, having only been an HCC member for a few short years. In the too few interactions I had with him, I knew he was really a cool, wise and fine guy. I was pleased and tickled with his points of view and how he expressed them on Facebook.



Dave Wood: 


Bob and I were both active in HCC in the 70s-80s. We were always “horse trading” with each other. It’s hard to say which we enjoyed most – the equipment or the trading. I still have a cruiser / solo free style boat that I got from Bob. The beautiful blue boat is still one of my favorites. I have babied it all these years. As I recall, I traded him a tandem Dagger for the boat.


Whenever I paddle the boat, I think of Bob and his many contributions to canoeing – especially his sponsorship of the early free style competitions and demonstrations.


Linda Gorski:



 Bob conducting a tour of

Buffalo Bayou for some

friends on the BPA



Bob with executives from

BPA at opening of put-

in at Briar Bend Park 


Bob being interviewed

at opening of new

put-in at Briar Bend





 Bob walking up new

put-in at Briar Bend

Bob relaxing in his

boat on Buffalo Bayou

Bob paddling Buffalo





 John Bartos (left) was

one of the pallbearers

Mary Carter saying

farewell to Bob

The group from HCC who

attended Bob's funeral

and burial service



Bob with grandchildren




Natalie Wiest:


These are two photos of Bob Arthur at Armand Bayou on the trip of September 10, 2011.  You can see Bob kibitzing with John and Cindy Bartos in one photo;  and paddling tandem with Cindy in the other. This may be the last time Bob got to paddle. 





Mary Carter:



 Mary Carter, Cindy Bartos,

Bob Arthur & John Bartos

enjoy a laugh at
Bay Day dinner dance.

Bob with pipe and


Bob Arthur and Mary

Carter on the water



John Rich:


I always looked forward to Bob's annual "Burnham's Ferry" trips on the Colorado River near LaGrange, with camping on the riverbank at the end of the day.  I was impressed with Bob's knowledge of nature, such as his ability to identify every plant on the riverbanks, his encyclopedic knowledge of history, and his folksy humor and wisdom.  It was great to watch him interact with his family on the evening campouts, hear his grandkids call him "papa-roo", and it was clear he was a strong family man.  You get to know someone pretty well sitting  for hours chatting around a campfire, and those are going to be the special times which I will remember with Bob.


Brewing fresh coffee

during a break on

Buffalo Bayou

Baking a Dutch oven

cake for dessert

Lunch break

on the Colorado




 On the Colorado

Waiting out a rainstorm

on the Colorado

Taking the grandkids

for a paddle



Fraser Baker: