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Robert Otis Van Atta



Robert Otis Van Atta, 81, died Aug.9, 2005 in Portland. Strong and cheerful despite his limitations from a stroke in 1990 and other health complications. He made deep, lasting friendships and was loved by all. As one friend put it, "I remember his warmth, kindness and encouragement. He always had something positive to say and radiated a confident faith and hope."

Bob Van Atta was born Aug. 12, 1923, in Portland. His family moved to Eugene where he was active in sports, especially mountain climbing, skiing, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits. He graduated from North Eugene High School and then enrolled in Wheaton College, near Chicago. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a lieutenant with the renowned ski troops of the 10th Mountain Division before being stationed in the Pacific for the duration of World War II. Bob and Lucibel ("Lucki") Davis were married Sept. 9, 1947, in Portland, and had a dedicated and loving relationship of nearly 58 years. Their family grew to include three children, Walt (currently of Seattle), Steve (Bremerton, Wash.), and Susan Fleming and her husband, Bruce (Portland); 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

A lifelong student as well as a teacher, Bob received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Oregon; his Bachelor of Divinity-and honorary Master of Christian Leadership from Western Seminary; and his Ph.D from Oregon State University. Beginning his teaching career as a high school science instructor, Dr. Van Atta moved on to help establish tlie geology department at Portland State University in 1956, and taught there for 32 years, retiring in 1988 and becoming Professor Emeritus of Geology at PSU. In addition to his teaching duties, Dr. Van Atta conducted numerous projects as a consulting geologist for businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions. PSU recently established the Van AttaSedimentary Lab, honoring his contributions in sedimentary geology and his productive career as an advisor and encourager of students. 

Bob Van Atta's relationship with God was the most important thing in his life. His involvement in the lives of people at the Van Attas' church, Burlingame Baptist. and countless other places in the greater Portland area gave him many opportunities to serve both his Lord and people. Bob contributed to the church as a deacon, elder. and teacher for groups of all ages, and in numerous capacities with the youth programs. He was also an active supporter of Western Seminary and served on its board of trustees from 1984 to 1990. His creativity and energy shone through in everything he undertook, particularly in outdoor activities. Those who knew him prized his genuine desire to help people achieve and grow. Not only was Bob always ready to try new things himself, he regularly introduced his family, friends, and colleagues to challenging and fun activities that they would never have done without his initiation and encouragement.

A memorial service for Bob Van Atta was held on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m., at Burlingame Baptist Church, 125 SW Miles St., Portland. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bob Van Atta Memorial fund at Burlingame Baptist Church, the Bob Van'Atta Student Scholarship Fund at Western Seminary, or the Bob Van Atta Sedimentary Geology Scholarship Fund at Portland State University, complications, he is now in the presence of His Lord, forever healed and at peace.

From The Oregonian, 21st August 2005.