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Feature Article: Robert Twilegar Obit

Robert Twilegar, WON President and CEO, passes

BY PAUL LEBOWITZ/WON Staff WriterPublished: Jan 07, 2020

A humble man who intensely loved his family and dedicated his work life to continue his father Burt’s legacy

IN THE WESTERN Outdoors Publications offices with Bob Twilegar. TWILEGAR FAMILY PHOTO

SAN CLEMENTE — A signifier of a life well lived is a rich legacy. For Robert Twilegar, known more familiarly as Bob, that legacy is a large and loving family and this weekly outdoor paper and event company, Western Outdoors Publications.

Twilegar, 65, President and CEO, passed away Dec. 30 after a stroke. A quiet and thoughtful man, his life’s work was to sustain and grow the outdoor company founded by his late father, Burt Twilegar, in 1954. It was deeply important to him, yet nothing was more fundamental to Bob than his role as a husband to wife Lori and as a father to their five children: Ben, Joe, Olivia, Michelle, and Emily.

“He was a great father, he cared about our family so much,” says Lori. That love expressed itself in many ways, but the simplest avenue to understand it is as the unconditional support of and pride in his children.

As his children, now all young adults, were growing, Twilegar was always their coach and number one fan. “Coach Bob” would tell them they were the best at their chosen sports, whether that was soccer or baseball. “It wasn’t just coaching,” says his son Joe. “He’d study how to get everyone better.”

That dedication extended to every part of Bob’s life. When Joe went to work at a brewery, Bob researched how they work. “He was super interested to be more of a part of our lives,” Joe continues.

A FAMILY FAVORITE photo, Bob Twilegar with an albacore caught aboard the Bongos. RICH HOLLAND PHOTO

“Dad would make it sound like we all had the best job,” says Olivia. “Joe works at the best brewery, Ben works at the best restaurant in San Clemente, Olivia at the best real estate office in San Diego, Michelle is married to the best guy, and Emily went to the best college.”

Says Lori, “When I was pregnant with the triplets (Ben, Joe and Olivia), Bob was my doctor, he was my strength. He always had the charts in front of him, he always knew what was going on. The nurses were amazed by him.” That knowledge extended to spotting a discrepancy that threatened one of the yet-to-be-born children and alerting the medical doctors so they could take immediate action to save his child. “The important people in his life were very important,” Lori says.

Bob’s family describes him as selfless. He rarely bought anything for himself. He drove an old car with many a scar sustained when he was teaching his children. When it was her turn, Olivia remembers, she mistook the brake for the gas and gently ran into a tree. “I looked at him thinking he would yell,” she says. “He was cracking up.”

Bob started at Western Outdoors Publications when he was 21, leaving college and his pursuit of a business degree to do so in order to help his father Burt. At first, Bob’s job was to clean up the accounting, but soon that developed into managing the company. As Burt battled the cancer that would ultimately take his life, Bob’s role expanded. When Burt passed in 1992, Bob took on the title of President and CEO.

“He loved the paper,” Lori says. “It was his dad’s.”

BOB TWILEGAR ABOARD one of his first boats. He owned several during his lifetime, and loved the ocean and fishing. TWILEGAR FAMILY PHOTO

Bob was an avid fisherman who enjoyed boats and the ocean. He hunted doves in the Imperial Valley with childhood friends. He quietly relished his role in sharing his passion for the outdoors with WON’s readers.

“He liked getting the news out,” Lori adds. “It was quick info for people to go out and find the fish. He disliked the writers who wouldn’t share the hotspots. ‘We’re a paper, we’re supposed to tell,’ he’d say.”

No job was beneath Bob. When the company changed locations, there was Bob (and Lori) moving boxes. He was a regular at Fred Hall Shows and WON events, but he was so humble, he would never let it slip to readers he was the owner of Western Outdoors Publications. “He was never one to talk about it,” Lori says. “They wouldn’t know he was the guy behind the paper.”

Chuck Buhagiar, current Ad Sales and Marketing Director for Western Outdoors Publications, echoes Lori, saying, “It hit me profoundly, having been in the outdoor industry for my entire life. I don’t know of any one individual who touched more people and got them excited to go fishing or hunting. Yet, few people knew who he was, he was the most selfless, humble man, and he had absolutely no ego. It wasn’t him.”

During the golden days before the Internet, Western Outdoors Publications boomed. Bob shared the wealth with his team of employees. Lori remembers one Christmas party in particular. He spent hours crafting a special BINGO game. The winner, who was to yell “WON rocks,” would receive $1,000. On the same draw, everyone shouted in excitement. “Bob had rigged the game so all his staffers would win,” Lori says.

Bob’s kids affectionately dubbed their father “Bob Dog” and “Silent Bob.” When he’d speak, his words had meaning. “Everyone was happy and would listen,” says Olivia. Bob’s voice has been silenced, but his words still resonate and will forever guide his family and daily business at the paper he loved.

Bob is survived by his wife Lori Twilegar, children Ben Twilegar, Joe Twilegar, Olivia Twilegar, Michelle Van Zyl, and Emily Twilegar, and sisters Judy Hope and Lauri Robinson, as well as the family dog Odie.


THE TWILEGAR FAMILY during a recent happy time, daughter Michelle’s wedding to Brad Van Zyl. From left, Emily, Joe, and Ben Twilegar, Michelle and Brad Van Zyl, Lori and Bob Twilegar, Olivia Twilegar and Kai Pattison. TWILEGAR FAMILY PHOTO

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