Robert Danforth

Sept. 7, 1929 — Aug. 6, 2013


Robert Edgar (Bob) Danforth, 83, passed away on Aug. 6, 2013, at his home in Walla Walla. He died of cancer after a courageous one year battle and was surrounded by his wife Barbara and other family members at the time of his passing.

Bob was born Sept. 7, 1929, in Spokane, to Edgar Smith and Agnes Pierre Danforth. His father died when Bob was age 1. His mother remarried Otto Schmitt in 1935 and they moved to the Lance Hills area of Cheney, Wash. Bob had one older sister, Mary Frances, and five siblings younger than him, including a younger brother Donnie who died at the age of 4.

He attended grade school, junior high and three years of high school in Cheney. He was an outstanding high school athlete in boxing, football, basketball and baseball. He moved to Waitsburg in the summer of 1946 to live with his uncle Joe Pierre and his family. He graduated from Waitsburg High School in 1947.

Bob enrolled at University of Washington in the fall of 1948 and joined the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. He loved the fraternity experience with its camaraderie, brotherhood and support. His love of Phi Kappa Sigma continued until his death and his two sons and two grandsons also joined the same fraternity in later years.

He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1950 and served for four years, reaching the rank of staff sergeant. Bob was also a drill instructor for 18 months and he served in the Korean War for one year. The Marines helped shape his character, perseverance, compassion and patriotism that he carried throughout his adult life. Semper Fi!

Bob married Barbara Cockburn on July 6, 1952, in Walla Walla. They spent their first year of marriage in California while he was in the Marines. This was followed by his time in the war. Bob and Barbara returned to Waitsburg in 1954 and moved to the family farm at Alto, north of Waitsburg. They farmed together from 1954 to 1996 and later moved to Walla Walla in 2006.

Bob was very active in numerous organizations in the community. He was a 50-year member of the Waitsburg Lions Club, including president in 196,5 and was awarded Melvin Jones Fellow in 2000. He served on the Waitsburg School Board for 8 years. He was raised as a master Mason in 1955 at the Waitsburg Lodge #16 F&AM. He served as master several times and in April of 2013 he received the Grand Masters Achievement Award, which was one of his greatest personal achievements. He was also a member of Royal Arch Masons, Knight Templar, Scottish Rite Masons and El Katif Shrine Temple in Spokane and the Blue Mountain Shrine Club.

Bob and Barbara have been very active in the Waitsburg Presbyterian Church, where he was an ordained elder and a deacon. He was also on the Columbia REA Board, WWCC Foundation Board, the Baker Boyer Farm Board and the Whitman College Farm Board.

One of his favorite activities was supporting the University of Washington football team and other athletics such as UW crew. Bob was a lifelong supporter of Waitsburg High School athletics. In later life his hobbies included golf with his children and grandchildren as well as fishing. They traveled extensively and enjoyed history and genealogy … and especially family gatherings.

Bob is survived by his wife of 61 years, Barbara; and their three children: son and daughter-in-law, Robert Jr. and Leslie Danforth of Issaquah, Wash.; daughter and son-in-law, Susie and Mitchell Payne of Dayton, and son and daughter-in-law, David and Nancy Danforth of Redmond, Wash. Bob and Barbara have eight grandchildren: Jonathan, Nicholas and Cameron Danforth; Andrea and Molly Payne; and 2nd Lt. Christopher, Amanda and Ashley Danforth. He is also survived by siblings Raymond and Ronald Schmitt and Arlene Mowatt of Cheney, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father and mother; his older sister, Mary Danforth Heffner; and half-sister, Laura Schmitt Berggren.

Viewing and visitation will be held on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Herring Groseclose Funeral Home, 315 W. Alder, Walla Walla. The funeral will be Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, at 11 a.m. at the Waitsburg Presbyterian Church. Graveside services will follow at the Waitsburg City Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made in lieu of flowers to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Spokane or Walla Walla Community Hospice through the funeral home. Family and friends are invited to sign the online guestbook at


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