After years of perfecting the art, Bob left our party much too soon with a wink and an Irish Goodbye. Robert Eugene Ragland Jr, age 76, passed away peacefully at his home on November 20, 2020, after a courageous and determined 3-month battle with brain cancer. Bob will be lovingly remembered as a Falstaffian figure to his Prince Hal of a family. He was always up for fun. He stretched the rules, disregarded harm avoidance, enjoyed stiff drinks with friends, implored his Bruins, and barbecued large pieces of meat. Above all he was assiduously supportive, a loyal mentor and patriarch to his family.
Bob was born on February 11, 1944, in Fort Lewis, Washington, as the oldest child to Virginia Ragland (Gallagher) and Robert Eugene Ragland Senior. After the war, his parents relocated to their hometown of Los Angeles. Soon they moved to their Lowry Road home in the Los Feliz area where he resided with his parents and 5 siblings until heading out to college. That house witnessed the start of his life-long relationship with the hospital emergency room, beginning at age 10 when he biked down the steep driveway with no hands (and reportedly eyes closed) resulting in a loud crash and the handlebar stuck in his thigh.
Bob attended Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Elementary School and matriculated to Loyola High School (Class of 1961). There he began his love affair with football. Never afraid of contact, he played all four years and ended up being an All-CIF Offensive Lineman for the Cubs as a senior. His years at Loyola were extremely fun, which was reflected in his report cards. He remained an active Cub throughout his life, serving for many years as Class Leader for alumni events, and fund raising (See below).
Bob attended East LA City College for one year before transferring to UCLA on a football scholarship, where he played offensive line for the Bruins. He also was a proud and active member of the Phi Gamma Delta (“The Fijis”) Fraternity. It was as Bob described, a golden age in Los Angeles and a lot like Animal House—with plenty of rival fraternity house furniture upended and pledges abandoned in the Santa Monica Mountains in their underwear. He regaled his sons and grandsons with stories of Purple Mist (Grape Juice / Vodka, et al. / Dry Ice) at the Frat House, which clearly had an impact on his grandson Conor, who became Social Chair of his fraternity at UC Santa Barbara. Bob liked to play and play hard. Years later, men from Loyola or UCLA, who recognized his sons’ last names would raise an eyebrow and comment, “So, he’s your Dad….”
It was at East LA City College that Bob met his future wife Francine Landry. True to form, he showed up for their first date, in a full cast, after breaking his leg playing football, of course. After quite a few Fiji parties, they were married on September 4, 1965, a decision he would frequently and happily declare was “the best one he ever made.” They lived in LA, Phoenix (where Bob attended Thunderbird College of International Management in 1969 for post graduate work) and eventually settled down in Seal Beach where they raised their two sons, Robert (born in 1967) and Matthew (1972).
Bob made a career in commercial construction, working for Insul-Acoutics and GJ Krause Construction, before opening his own company, Ragland Construction in 1987 which he ran for 22 years. Ragland Construction remodeled interiors in the Pacific Design Center, classrooms and laboratories at Loyola Marymount University, several LA restaurants and the Federal Reserve Bank. His work allowed him to explore almost every part of the City of Angels with the Thomas Guide as his bible. Before “WAZE,” he knew every side street and freeway shortcut and took them abruptly and often, once even electing to escape traffic by driving the entirety of Alameda Blvd. to get home.
Since he was his own boss, he also began to golf. And golf, and golf. Legend has it that at some point he was an 8 handicap, or was it 12 or 14? For someone who was so big and could hit the ball so hard, he had a remarkably soft touch around the greens — an apt metaphor for his personal relationships. After winding down his company around the time of the 2009 recession, he began his final job as the construction project manager for the non-profit Los Angeles Christian Health Center in LA’s Skid Row, where he worked until the day of his diagnosis.
Bob’s life was punctuated by the things he loved most: family, friends, food, sports, faith and travel. After college, he continued to play a variety of sports including adult softball, handball, beach volleyball, golf and deep-sea fishing —activities that inevitably resulted in torn ligaments, broken ankles, herniated disks, and eventually a hip replacement. He was also a huge fan of the Los Angeles Rams and Kings, but most of all his beloved Bruins–which included years of football and basketball season tickets and legendary tailgate spreads in the Rose Bowl parking lot. Going to football games with Bob was always an adventure. And those of us who experienced it are bonded for life.
Later, he became a permanent fixture and “super fan” on the sidelines of his sons’ and then grandsons’ sporting, theatrical and musical performances. Nothing gave him more pleasure than watching his grandsons compete and perform.
Bob’s devotion and loyalty to his family and friends was at the center of his life. He loved creating opportunities to gather, play games, and share meals that often included his world (or just family) famous BBQ, renowned gin and tonics (reserving the “Lady’s Pour” for his daughter-in-law), and mouth-watering apple, cherry and boysenberry pies.
Bob was a 40-year member of St. Anne Catholic Church in Seal Beach, serving as lector for 30 years. An avid reader, he loved to immerse himself in the study and discussion of European history, especially Napoleon and Churchill, and was known to create historical “pop quizzes” for his grandsons to ensure they remained well informed.
Traveling was also a huge passion and through his life, Bob and Franny traveled extensively to almost every state in the US with many adventures—UCLA football games in Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, a New Orleans Mardi Gras trip with Bob and Shaila dancing on the bar at the F&M’s until 4:00am, Washington DC visits with each grandson when they turned 13, and drinking frosties at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Bob and Franny also traveled to Mexico, Canada and several countries in Europe.
Bob is survived by his wife Francine, sons, Matt and Rob, daughter-in-law, Shaila, grandsons, Conor and Kieran, siblings, Katie, Mary, John and Paul, as well as many other members of his large and loving extended family.