On January 5, 1930, the world forever changed for the better. Robert Mathew Clegg was born to Mathew Simpson Clegg and Lillian Marie Clegg. Robert, or Bob as he became known, grew up with his older sister, Doris, on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. His father, Mathew, who himself had left home at 15 years old, provided a comfortable life for the family and owned a chain of markets. Mathew’s primary trade was as a butcher and Bob joined him in that work in his youth. Bob’s first passion, however, was the railroad. He collected model trains, train books, photos of trains, and took many train photos himself. In fact, throughout his life he took to the road and followed particular trains from state to state.
Bob attended George Washington Preparatory High School where he played basketball, rowed crew, and graduated in 1947. Soon thereafter Bob enrolled in the greatest academic and athletic institution in history: the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). Bob continued his basketball career playing for Coach John Wooden. He played for the freshman and junior varsity teams, and practiced with the varsity squad as a 6’5” post player. Bob unfortunately did not make the varsity team his senior year and afterward referred to himself as “John Wooden’s only mistake.” Regardless of the mistake, Bob remained loyal to Coach Wooden and UCLA, continuing to attend basketball and football games whenever he could until his 70’s. Bob graduated from UCLA in June, 1952, with a bachelor’s degree in transportation management.
Three months later in September, 1952, Bob was drafted into the Armed Forces. He reported to Fort Ord in California for basic training and later to Fort Eustis in Virginia. Bob made the best of his time doing what he did best, playing basketball for the Fort Eustis Wheels. In the Army Bob met his best friend, Arthur Scott. After leaving the Army the two spent the next few years traveling the world, playing golf, and living life. Bob had a reputation for dressing sharp and being the “consummate gentlemen.”
Bob eventually made his way back to California where, in 1968, he met the love of his life, Lynda Karen Edkins. According to Lynda, Bob walked right in, sat right down, and started talking to her with the confidence of a bird committing itself to air. They dated for several years while Bob began working as a builder and commercial real estate investor. Bob and Lynda were married on April 28, 1975, and lived in Newport Beach, California. Bob, who apparently never planned on being a family man, became a father to his oldest son, Mathew, in 1976, then Thomas in 1977. Bob decided he wanted to raise his family in a place he had only seen in his youth, Montana.
The family moved to Missoula in 1978. Soon afterwards, Robert, Katherine, and Andrew came along and rounded out the Clegg clan. Their home sat on the border of Greenough Park, Missoula’s oldest public park, of which Bob served on the Board of Directors for many years. He continued to pursue his boyhood hobby, purchasing both a private railcar named the “Montana” for the family to travel in, and a Union Pacific caboose that graced their home for the next 35 years. Bob even lined the driveway to their home with railroad ties.
As Bob got older his time was spent taking care of others, his wife, his children, and his rescue dogs. Bob was a man of routine. Fridays were for steak. Sundays were for pancakes. Every morning he read the paper. Every afternoon he went to the grocery store for that night’s dinner. One martini was typical with dinner, sometimes two but never more. The dogs were walked twice a day without fail. He never left home without both a handkerchief and a comb in his back pocket, and if he drove into a tunnel he would honk the horn to the tune of “shave-and-a-haircut, two bits.”
On weekends Bob drove the kids to the “yellow gate,” a railroad crossing west of Missoula where they parked and watched trains together. Bob used a radio scanner so he and the kids could listen to the radio traffic between train conductors as the trains rolled past. It seemed teaching his kids the logistics of the railroad was imperative for Bob. Freight versus passenger trains. Eastbound trains heading to Omaha or westbound grain trains heading for Seattle, and how many engines and cars each would typically have. Two long whistles, one short, and another long meant the train was approaching the crossing. Getting caught at a railroad crossing was a blessing.
The railroad was a hobby, but UCLA lore was gospel. Bob spoke often of how Coach Wooden would do things. “Stop the ball. Be quick, but don’t hurry. Value the possession.” In 1995 after UCLA won the National Championship, with Bob in attendance, he wrote to Coach Wooden. Coach Wooden wrote back, noting it was good to hear from “one of his boys” and commented how his family was the most important part of his life. It was certainly the most important part of Bob’s and he often told Lynda and the kids how important they were to him.
Bob passed away on January 28, 2022, at home surrounded by his family. He was 92 years old. Bob was preceded in death by this father Mathew, mother Lillian, sister Doris, his best friend Arthur, niece April Black, and the many dogs that have been waiting for their walk. Bob is survived by his wife, Lynda, children Mathew (Abby), Thomas, Robert (Samantha), Katie, and Andrew (Amber); nephews Larry Detloff, Rob, Jon, and Brandon Hobbs; nieces Judy and Susan Detloff, and Shannon Shier; as well as grandchildren, Jaden, Mathew, Alexandra, Grace, William, Charles, Henry, and Thomas.
A celebration of Bob’s life is scheduled for Friday February 25, 2022, between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your local animal shelter.
“The most important things in the world are family and love.” – John Wooden.