Robert A. Righetti, 91, a longtime resident of Pozo, passed away peacefully with his loving family by his side on June 28, 2022, at his beloved ranch in Pozo, CA.
Robert was born Feb. 24, 1931, in Santa Maria, CA., the second of 5 children born to Alfred Edward and Susie “Marie” Righetti of Casmalia.
He attended Pozo & Santa Margarita grammar schools and Atascadero High School. As a youth, he raised steers in 4-H, worked on his family ranch, grandparents’ dairy, as well as numerous ranches in Pozo & Carrizo Plains, baling hay & tractor work.
Being raised on his parent’s cattle ranch in Pozo, Robert learned to be a hard worker at a very young age. His father was a Foreman with the U.S. Forest Service, Pozo station, patrolling the forest on horseback. In 1943 at the age of 12, Robert began assisting his father & learning fire characteristics.
In 1948, at age 17, Robert enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Seabee’s Battalion operating heavy equipment and explosives during the Korean War. Following four years in the Navy, his service to the country and community didn’t end after an honorable discharge. He began his 30-year career in the Los Padres National Forest in 1952 with the U.S. Forest Service in the San Luis Obispo Ranger District at the Cerro Alto station.
On July 9, 1955, Robert married Marilyn Yeary of Atascadero. The couple moved to the Pozo Forest Service station in 1956 and welcomed their first daughter Denise, and in 1958 second daughter Julie was born.
In 1959 Robert “Bob” to many transferred to the Cuyama District as a fire prevention technician at Ozena station. A year later, he transferred to Santa Barbara District as Assistant Fire Management Officer in charge of suppression. In 1962 he accepted the Assistant Fire Management Officer position in the Ojai District. While living in Ojai, third daughter Jana was born in 1964.
Promoted in 1965, Bob became the District Fire Management Officer in the Santa Maria Ranger District. Flying air attack on many fires, he was the first-night air attack boss to fly on the Los Padres Forest and was believed to be the first in the nation.
Bob helped develop Southern California fire prescriptions and worked with the National Training Team developing a guide which became the Incident Command System. One of his career highlights was co-writing the Logistics Chief Training Plan, still in use today. He was at the forefront and instrumental in developing safety equipment & gear for Fire personnel. Safety was always his mission. Respected and highly regarded in his field, Bob taught various fire suppression and incident command classes throughout the western United States and retired as a Type 1 Logistics Chief within the incident command system. Bob absolutely loved his job and considered the people he worked with family and family was important to him.
An excellent loving, and supportive father to his three girls. Whether it involved a livestock show, building pens, tightening a cinch before a rodeo performance, or helping start a new business, he was always there right up to his passing.
Bob’s greatest joy began when he became a grand & great grandfather. He delighted in being able to help raise, and attended every school program, dance recital, sports event, or the years of driving the daily 40-mile round trip school drop-off and pick up’s. Bob loved these children beyond measure.
When Bob retired from the USFS, he went on to work for many years as a heavy equipment operator with Fesler, R.W. Scott & Whitaker construction companies. Able to operate any large piece of equipment, Bob was a master at and well known for his exceptional dozer work.
In 1994 Bob and Marilyn moved back to the Pozo ranch. When not pushing dirt with a dozer, Bob pulled their 5th wheel trailer visiting all the national parks and friends throughout the U.S. & Canada.
In the Santa Maria community, Bob was active as a 4-H leader, S.B. Co Fair volunteer, VFW Orcutt Post, Elks 1538 member working many Rodeos & BBQs. In San Luis Obispo Co., he could be found barbecuing at the Pozo Saloon for concerts & events, volunteering at Santa Margarita Senior Center with ECHO, the Mid-State Fair, or serving on the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council, just to name a few.
He felt it an honor to be able to be one of the founding members of and serve as Vice President for the San Luis Obispo Co. Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial in Atascadero. Living a full, active, and long life, Robert took great pride in serving his country, communities, family, and friends . . . all of which he loved dearly. A mentor to many, he enjoyed helping others and truly cherished his lifelong and dear friends and neighbors.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents Alfred & Marie, sisters Emma & Loretta, brother Alan, Marilyn, wife of 64 years, and daughter Jana.
Left to cherish his memories while he rests in Gods hands until reunited in heaven are sister Alice Gouff, daughters Denise Selle (Steve) & Julie Righetti, granddaughter Sarah Sheppard, grandson Cameron Card, great-granddaughter Riley Sheppard, great-grandson Thomas Westbrook, many nieces & nephews.
Bob’s whole life consisted of serving others, leaving all the lives and land he touched in a better place. Never to be forgotten… we salute you!
Our family would like to thank the amazing staff & caregivers of Central Coast Hospice. We are so grateful for their compassionate care & support. Sophia, you were dad’s bright light as he most looked forward to your sweet uplifting visits.
In a private service, Robert will be laid to rest alongside his wife & daughter in the Santa Margarita Cemetery.
In Robert’s honor, donations may be made to the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial. Website: Click Here or send to: AVMF (caretakers of the Faces of Freedom Veterans Memorial), P.O. Box 1466, Atascadero, CA 93423