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Robert Eugene Guill
February 5, 1953 - May 12, 2019
When he died suddenly on May 12, 2019, Robert Eugene Guill was in a chair next to his favorite dog in the family room of the home he lovingly restored with his wife, Peggy Elise Scolnick, in Portland, Oregon. His beagle, Cleo, was settled next to him, and a winning Trailblazers playoff basketball game was on TV.
He loved Portland, having chosen it some 20+years earlier as a good place to settle. He had migrated with family to multiple cities before settling in Portland, including Concord, NC, Greenville, SC, Mobile, AL, Atlanta, GA, Clyde, NC, New Orleans, LA, and Los Angeles, CA. But his spiritual home was and always had been the wilderness. An accomplished outdoorsman, proud Eagle Scout, and graduate of Haywood Community College School of Forestry in North Carolina, Rob was drawn to the woods since childhood.
Born in Charlotte, NC on February 5, 1953, the third child of Robert F. and Elizabeth Jayne G. Guill, Rob spent his boyhood in Concord, NC, free-roaming the creeks, clay hills, and woods of Cabarrus County; shooting his popgun at imagined varmints; and wishing for a dog of his very own - the family dog, Blackie, having taken up with his sister.
Truth be told, Rob was more at home in the woods than at school, clubs, or social groups, where he was often misunderstood. As a child he had a speech impediment and endured hours of speech therapy to help cure him. In response, Rob developed a self-deprecating sense of humor and capacity for an “I’ll try anything” goofiness that endeared him to those who loved and did understand him; especially kids and dogs. He had a troupe of admirers and lovers of the quirky and the off-beat among that crowd, including three nieces (Emily and Ellen Guill, Farrar Williams), a nephew (Jonathan Williams), 4 great nephews (Miles, Porter, Jackson and Beau), a step-daughter, Kali Scolnick, two grandsons (Kai and Corbin), and somewhere north of 9 canine companions.
Rob amply demonstrated that “I’ll try anything” spirit in his college days of the early 70’s. He gamely lived in a shack in the forest near Clyde, NC, where there was no heat, no indoor plumbing, but lots of good dogs and good times with his Haywood best buddy and lifelong friend, David Jones. But following a series of setbacks, including serious injuries from a fall off a roof in his 20’s, and the dream of forestry management having evaporated in the late 70’s economy, Rob set out for California, to join his older brother. There, he gained a certificate in graphic arts, worked for a now-defunct movie studio in Hollywood, and finally heeded the call again to the wilderness of Oregon to take a job with the American Red Cross in Portland. It is there that he won “Best in the West” for his customer service skills.
While the love of wilderness generally inspires deep independence, Rob’s happiest moment in life came when he met the love of his life, Peggy “Elise” Scolnick, in Portland. He was smitten. So smitten, in fact, that he married her twice – once in a private ceremony to include his ill and dying Dad, in Concord, NC, and the second time in the closing act on the main stage at the Alberta Street Fair - a community celebration in their beloved NE Alberta Arts District neighborhood in Portland. Rob was Elise’s – “beloved cuddly curmudgeon. “
Rob never lost his love of working with his hands and desire to be outdoors. With urging from family, he translated those skills into a successful small construction business, Jobs by Rob, LLC, providing light remodeling and handyman services in Portland. Due to trauma from his roof fall, he wisely avoided second story work. He spent hours in community service as well as helping neighbors with their projects.
Woodsmen are often loners; but not Rob. He was gregarious. He drew people into conversation and always gave his opinion. He reveled as easily in the quiet of the Redwoods as in the buzz of a Mardi Gras parade; as peaceful in the campgrounds at Joyce Kilmer National Forest or Oregon’s coast as at a raucous dinner table teaming with good food, good friends, and family; as happy with a sleeping baby in his arms as with a crowd of RV’ers looking for a good time. His eyes held the deep peace of the rivers, and his gentle smile welcomed friendship with all.
His dream in retirement was to take to the road in his RV, working as a camp host and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. That dream goes sadly unrealized. He was deeply loved and is mourned by many - his community and many clients, co-workers and friends; his nieces, nephews, great nephews, and grandchildren; but most especially his closest kin, including his wife, Elise Scolnick (Portland, OR), step-daughter Kali Scolnick and son-in-law, Jeff Markle (Portland, OR), his brother, Reid Guill and wife Martha Shaw (Culver City, CA), and his sister, Bebe Guill (Durham, NC).
Surely he is mourned also by the natural environment he loved. He wished for his ashes to be spread in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove in the Redwoods and in the Joyce Kilmer National Forest. May he rest in eternal peace and comfort.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2019, 11:00 AM-2:00 PM at 24 Fremont, 2393 NE Fremont St., Portland, OR. Parking is on-street in the neighborhood or served by TriMet bus line #24. We encourage walking, biking or public transportation use for those in the neighborhood.
Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be directed to these amazing organizations that Rob loved.
Alberta Main Street
Architectural Heritage Center
Oregon Humane Society
Habitat for Humanity
Oregon Food Bank