Robb Edmonds - 1923-2010

by Clark King, editor, Ex-CBI Roundup

Our beloved Roundup columnist Robb passed away suddenly on February 3, 2010.  It's always a shock when a good friend like Robb passes away with no apparent warning or notice, so naturally, I'm very saddened at this very unwelcome news.

I have known Robb only about 4 or 5 years, but in that amount of time I've come to know him well and considered him a very good friend.  He was the Ex-CBI Roundup columnist for Dwight since 2004 after Hugh Crumpler's passing, and when I took over the Roundup in 2006, Robb was eager to continue on in his capacity as our "resident columnist", a role which he filled very ably, and with a wonderful combination of humor and in depth knowledge of what it was like being a GI in the China Burma India Theater.  I thought that he made a very worthwhile contribution to the magazine from 2004-2009.  He then consented to continue in his columnist role for this website since August 2009, and we were very lucky to obtain another 15 (maybe 16...we'll see...CSK) of his columns during the first 6 months that this website has been in existence.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Robb and his wife Pat three times, during the All West Reunions in Las Vegas NV in 2007, Scottsdale AZ in 2008, and lastly, in Aurora CO in 2009.  He was always a very positive and personable guy and he will be sorely missed within the CBI community.

Rest peacefully, Robb.  It was a true pleasure to have made your acquaintance, and to have collaborated with you on the Ex-CBI Roundup magazine during these past few years.

Following is Robb's obituary, written in his hand and submitted to Clark when he began sending his articles for this website.

Robb's Obit

by Robb Edmonds

Robb Edmonds, elderly z'ell, was born in Bellingham, Washington, and raised in California.  (He says, "Luckily, the rope broke.")  Moved from Seattle to Los Angles at age 5 in time to start school.  He eventually graduated from Hollywood High School but reported to the Army two days before the ceremony without him.  His diploma was mailed to his home. He claims the Draft Board came to him on their hands and knees.  "I was hiding under my bed."

Following Signal Corps school at Camp (now Fort) Crowder, Missouri, he was posted to Fresno, California, and assigned to an Air Base Communications Detachment.  From there to the greatest adventure of his life, the CBI.  Three air strips in China, and one 40 miles west of Burma in India.

Completing a trip around the world, he was honorably- but not regrettably- discharged two days short of the three years since induction (January 21, 1943).

Then a succession of dead end jobs.  He logged 256 hours (he counted them in his diary) as a disc jockey on AFRS XJOY, Chengtu, China, which led to a seven year career in small town AM radio and TV stations in civilian life.

In addition, he was Continuity Director (commercial department) in and Indiana TV station, and a stint as copy writer for an ad agency in Ohio.

Back home in Hollywood, he joined a repertory theater group founded and directed by Jack Holland, who became Editor of TeleViews Magazine with stories about Southern California (before microwave and national TV) shows and personalities.

Jack had Robb interview Harry Owens, leader of the Royal Hawaiian Orchestra, Spade Cooley, the "King of Western Swing", and Lawrence Welk twice.  There were other interviews with lesser-light personalities.

One of the repertory plays was directed by Lynn Carter, actress wife of Bill Talman, the DA on the Raymond Burr Perry Mason TV series, who was to direct Honest John, written by and starring Buddy Ebsen.  Lynn recommended Robb for Assistant Stage Manager with a "walk on" and two offstage character voices.

Among the cast members was Henry Corden, the silent menace with the switchblade that threatened Danny Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and the rest of his life appeared in many movie and TV roles.  He was the voice of Fred Flintstone and remained Robb's friend until he passed away in 2006.

In high school, Robb was befriended by Cort, John Wayne's nephew.  Together they watched broadcasts of Three Sheets to the Wind, starring Wayne on NBC Radio and, twice, when Cort went to visit his uncle and family, he was allowed to invite Robb along.

In 1986, Robb joined the CBIVA, the China Burma India Veterans Association, and was Basha (Chapter) Commander three times and California Department Commander twice.

He retired from the California State Military Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Meanwhile, he contributed stories and articles to Ex-CBI Roundup, edited by the late Dwight King.  When long-time columnist Hugh Crumpler passed away in 2004, Dwight asked Robb to take over the vacated four page column every month and, thanks to a good memory, every letter home from CBI and his personal diary for inspiration, he was able to provide sufficient fodder until the final issue in July, 2009.

Married in 1950 to Jayne Chenoweth, they raised four offspring, Stephanie, Philip, Melanie and Chris. Jayne passed away in 1982.

Prior to that, just out of the Army, Robb went to visit a high school classmate and met Pat, his future wife.  Bob Thompson had also served in CBI but neither knew the other was about 50 miles away.

Their "kids? They had four and the two families socialized for a few years until the Thompsons moved to Arizona.  Bob passed away and Pat remarried, was widowed again and moved back to Northern California.  Robb visited and their "kids" approved- nay, encouraged- their marriage in 2006, 64 years after their first meeting.

She and Robb share the same birthday, but not the same year.

Home is San Jose, 50 miles south of San Francisco.