Relatives of former Sonoma County Supervisor Bob Theiller say he was seriously ill late last year but seemed to will himself to stay alive for Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7.
Theiller was present and seated in the front row at the ceremony at Sebastopol’s Ragle Ranch Regional Park that dedicated the sports fields to the memory of his brother, Seaman Rudy Theiller. Early on in the 1941 attack on U.S. forces at Oahu, 19-year-old Rudy Theiller died aboard the bombed battleship USS Arizona.
Bob Theiller’s daughter, Carrie Schrup of Iowa, said that as the day of the dedication at the park approached “he gave it his all just to get there.”
Bob Theiller, who as Fifth District supervisor helped acquire Ragle Ranch as a county park, died Sunday at the age of 90.
The Petaluma-born former teacher, real estate broker and county supervisor lived virtually his entire life in Sonoma County, though in recent years he and his wife, Joyce, split their time between Santa Rosa and Palm Desert.
Theiller was elected as the west county district’s representative to the Board of Supervisors in 1968. He was a generally conservative businessman, as were most of the men elected then to local political office in Sonoma County.
Theiller was near the end of his second term when, in 1976, the board was hit by one of its most dramatic developments: Voters recalled two liberal, pro-conservation county supervisors, Charles Hinkle and Bill Kortum.
Progressives pushed back, and in November that year Theiller was defeated by young challenger and Vietnam veteran Eric Koenigshofer.
Theiller returned to the business world following an unsuccessful run for county recorder in 1978.
He said at the time, “I’m not going to do anything politically again.”
Through his eight years on the board, he’d enjoyed working with constituents and serving on regional panels that included the Bay Area Air Quality Control Board and North Coast Coastal Commission.
He told The Press Democrat in 1976, “I’m always trying to figure out how the majority of the people in my district feel and vote that way.”
Robert George Theiller grew up outside of Sebastopol and graduated from Analy High School in 1945, the year World War II ended. He enlisted in the Army for two years, then resumed his education at Santa Rosa Junior College and UC Berkeley.
He met the former Joyce Arlene Carrington through a seamstress who did work for both their mothers. They married in 1956 and reared four children.
For a number of years, until failing health precluded it, the couple honored the sacrifice of Rudy Theiller and all the others killed or injured in the attack that drew the U.S. into World War II by participating in activities of the Santa Rosa-based chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.
The Theillers were in Palm Desert at the time of Bob Theiller’s death.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by sons Robert Theiller Jr., Rudy Theiller and Randy Theiller, all of Santa Rosa, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services are at 2 p.m. Saturday at Santa Rosa Memorial Park. Theiller’s family suggests memorial contributions to UC Berkeley.