Bob J. Clausen

December 11, 1944 - November 28, 2023

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December 11, 1944 – November 28, 2023


It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of a man with a heart of gold; a generous man who expressed his love always thinking of others before himself. Robert “Bob” J. Clausen passed on November 28, 2023, at OHSU Portland Adventist Hospital after a month-long hospitalization, with his long-time partner, Theresa Gradt, continually by his side.


Bob was born December 11, 1944, in Sioux City, Iowa, and spent his childhood raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by Arnold and Florence Clausen. From an early age, Bob’s work ethic proved resolute, and carried into adulthood. During his elementary years, Bob halfheartedly inherited his sister, Donna’s, outgrown bicycle. After enduring taunts from childhood friends about riding around the neighborhood on a girl’s bike, Bob was determined to earn money shoveling neighbors’ snow-covered sidewalks in the winter months, cutting lawns in the spring and summer, and saving every precious cent to buy a brand-new Schwinn boy’s bicycle. Bob achieved his goal with extraordinary pride and a gratifying sense of accomplishment.


In 1962, Bob graduated high school, and was drafted several years later, serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam conflict. From 1965 to 1968, Bob completed two tours of duty with limitless courage on Amphibious craft and as a “Black Beret” with the U.S. Navy’s elite brown-water forces, maneuvering Swift boats and PBRs, meeting sniper fire, firefights and guerrilla warfare along the shallow coastal waters and twisting inland waterways of the Mekong Delta. Again, the enterprising spirit, Bob sent most of his monthly military pay home, saving toward the purchase of his prized 1957 Corvette upon return to Sioux Falls.


In 1968, Bob reconnected with Kathleen “Kate” O’Rielly, a high school friend. The couple married on November 14, 1969, and at the age of twenty-five, Bob enthusiastically embraced all the responsibilities of a husband and father to Kate’s two young children, Dave and Kris. In December of 1974, Kate and Bob proudly and happily welcomed the birth of their daughter, Holly. After living in Salem, Oregon for a number of years, the family settled in a spacious SW Portland home that accommodated all the children’s friends and activities, and regularly was the site of many joyous family gatherings for the holidays and other special occasions. The family traveled extensively, creating lasting memories cross-country skiing on Mt. Hood and vacationing in Central Oregon.


Bob spent his career devoted to the maintenance of school properties for the Portland Public School District. But most important and impactful was his dedication to supporting, caring for, and ensuring the safety of all the children, parents, and staff of Laurelhurst Elementary School, where Bob was truly and ardently beloved by all. In 1997, during Bob’s first year working at Laurelhurst, he met his life partner, Theresa, through Theresa’s daughter, Amelia, who was in the second grade. Bob and Theresa devoted twenty-two precious years of their lives together, creating treasured memories, including many trips to Pacific City on the Oregon Coast, one of their favorite places. In 2006, Bob retired from Laurelhurst Elementary School and PPS. In the intervening years, many colleagues and families have commented that the school was never the same without Bob’s presence.


Bob was an avid sports fan, tuning in to the Golf Channel, the NFL, AFL, NBA, NASCAR, and the MLB World Series. Every year, he and Theresa were enthusiastic spectators of The Masters, rooting for Rory McIlroy from the comfort of their recliners. Best friends, they enjoyed rousing and rather competitive (mostly Bob) games of Yahtzee when the mood for gamesmanship would strike them. Occasionally, Bob would buy “the winning” lottery ticket, but only when the jackpot reached nine figures. Despite Bob’s judiciousness, from time to time he did win, and substantially, much to his elation. Over the years, Bob appreciated many salmon fishing excursions with friend, Dale, gardening, and in later years, feeding the birds and neighborhood squirrels.


A private and modest man, Bob never fully recognized the enormity of how his support of others, his warmth and benevolence positively changed lives. Bob’s humanitarianism, giving generously to many charitable organizations throughout his life. He was a man of few words but expressed unconditional love, authenticity, devotion, sacrifice, and courage through his actions. Bob’s departure has left an enormous emptiness. We miss him terribly.


Bob is survived by his sister, Donna Pritchett, and niece, Kathy, of Scottsdale, Arizona; daughter, Holly Clausen and husband, Christopher, of Woodburn, Oregon; Kristine Baran and husband, Michael, of Shelton, Washington; David Clausen and wife, Gina, of Stanwood, Washington; grandchildren, Kendra and Cody (Kristine); Meranda, Cortney and Shane (David and Gina); Anna (Holly), and Alissa (David); five great-grandchildren, Nora, Adalynn, Wrenley, Olivia and Logan; his partner, Theresa, and daughter, Amelia Gradt, of Portland, Oregon; and beloved cat, Rhett.  Bob’s parents, Arnold and Florence, and ex-wife, Kate, predeceased him. On February 10, 2024, we believe Bob happily reunited with his best feline friend, Rhett, who at 20 years sorrowfully followed Bob in death. During life, the two were inseparable.


A funeral service at Willamette National Cemetery, with honors, will be held on Friday, May 31, 2024 at 2 p.m., with a life celebration for immediate family to follow at McMenamins Broadway Pub.


In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Bob’s name to the Oregon Humane Society of Portland, Oregon.