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Robert Young

A charismatic man who spent 36 years working for the City of Santa Rosa, Robert Young was described as a man who loved people and "lived hard and played hard."

Young died from complications with Parkinson's disease March 19. He was 79.

"People just took to Robert, he had such a wonderful personality," said his wife, Joan Young.

A native of Hawaii, Young was born in Honolulu on Sept. 11, 1933, the ninth of 10 children. His parents, Fong and Wong-Shee Young, immigrated to Hawaii from China.

Though Buddhist, the Youngs sent their children to a Catholic school to help them integrate into American culture. As a child, Young helped out with the family's several businesses, enjoyed hot-rods and playing sports.

A varsity football player, Young graduated from Kaimuki High School in 1952, and three years later moved to California. The 22-year-old began attending Santa Rosa Junior College, taking up tennis and making a wide variety of friends.

Young transferred to Chico State in 1958 to major in recreation administration, becoming a top star on the school's tennis team. He graduated in 1960 with his bachelor's degree.

Returning to Santa Rosa, Young took a job with the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department where he worked for 36 years.

He met Joan in 1962, and they were married three years later. She was divorced with two children and their marriage — which involved a Chinese man marrying an Italian woman — was questioned by some, but Joan Young said he remained unconcerned.

Young became a father to her two children, and in 1967 the Youngs had a child of their own. Their children attended St. Rose School, where Young started a track program so the kids could experience sports.

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