In Memoriam


Rob Retz

Rob Ray Retz
Oct. 20, 1947 - May 17, 2004 

Rob collected Colonial Coppers (Fugio, Vermont). A memorial mass was held for Rob at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Portland, Oregon on May 26, 2004. The following was written by Rob's daughter Angela for the remembrance program distributed at the service.

Rob Retz was born October 20, 1947, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to Ronald and Esther Retz. He grew up in Oshkosh where he attended elementary and high school. While growing up, his hobbies included collecting stamps and coins, reading, and running track. He was an only child and was adored by his parents. His mother used to pull him around town in a wagon. They would make trips to the hardware store where he would pick out what he wanted and go home to build projects. The family had a cabin in northern Wisconsin where he and his father would go deer hunting and trout fishing. He had a dog, Joe, two guinea pigs, Alvin and Elma and two imaginary friends, Joe Congress and Fritz Krugger. He was careful to remind his daughters that Krugger was spelled with a k and two g's and that he was young at the time and didn't know how to spell.

He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he ran track, received a BA in Russian language in 1969 and continued on to do graduate work in Russian history until 1972. He met Margaret Schieble in college the spring of 1967. Rob and Margaret dated for two years and were married January 25, 1969 in Pewaukee Wisconsin. Their first daughter, Nicole, was born October 29, 1971, and their second daughter, Angela, November 29, 1974.

Rob and Margaret moved to Oregon the summer of 1972. Rob worked as an automotive mechanic at MB Motors until 1980 when he began working as an automotive tool distributor for MAC Tools. He later became and independent distributor and continued to operate independently until the summer of 2002 when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Rob was a history buff and was great at trivia. He only drank Coke and always traveled with his own supply. He listened to opera and classical music. In 2000, he began a hobby in woodworking. You could often find him out in the garage making a table or a cabinet, and it was in the garage where he discovered he was allergic to a number of exotic woods. His favorite place to shop was Home Depot, and he would make several trips there in a weekend. He eventually accumulated a collection of woodworking tools and turned his garage in to a wood shop. He loved Basset Hound dogs. It was a love that began when his oldest daughter came home from college with tan and white Basset Hound named Wally. Wally later came to live with Rob and Margaret. Two more Bassett Hounds, Daisy and Bunny, in later years followed.

Rob began collecting coins as a child and later returned to the hobby in the 1980s. He began by collecting gold pieces, slowly shifted to colonial coins and eventually focused on the Fugio variety. He was an original member of the Willamette Coin Club, and a member of the Pacific Northwest Numismatic Association (PNNA), the American Numismatic Association (ANA), Early American Coppers (EAC) and the Colonial Collectors Coin Club (C4). He served six years as President of the Willamette Coin Club, was the Bourse Chairman of six PNNA conventions, served as a past C4 Board Member and had numerous articles published by the Colonial Newsletter Foundation. He had a passion for numismatics, which resulted in a large network of friends spread throughout the country. The license plate on his car read "Fugio".

Rob was diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma in August 2002 after having a tumor in his chest removed. He underwent five months of chemotherapy and was in remission for six months until August 2003, when he learned it was active again. From that time on, Rob spent a majority of his time with his family and friends. He made a trip to New York in October for the Ford Auction and a trip to Boston in November for C4's annual convention. The trips to New York and Boston were very special to him. He used the opportunities to introduce his family to his numismatic life, share a draft of his book, Fugio Copper Notes, with curious numismatists and say good-bye to his friends. He was at peace with his illness: after a lot of thought, he had come to the conclusion that if he had been given a choice to die unexpectedly or from a terminal illness, he would have chosen what he had. With this option, he was able to say everything he wanted, and he got to say good-bye. Rob passed away peacefully at home on Monday, May 17, 2004, at 6:30pm with his wife and daughters at his side. He is dearly missed.

Rob's family would like to thank the Willamette Coin Club, which is in the process of establishing the Rob Retz Memorial Exhibit Award to promote numismatic education and his numerous friends who are working to get Fugio Copper Notes published by the Colonial Coin Collectors Club. Thank you for honoring his memory.

Club members remember Rob:

One of life’s difficult tasks is to say goodbye to old friends. Rob Retz was my friend and I am so happy to have known him for so long. Going to conventions and shows with Rob was always a treat. Humor, prime rib, giant dog burgers and plenty of Coke was a hallmark of these excursions.

Rob was there for all of us in more ways than numismatics. If you needed help he was there. He thought of others but was not afraid to call it like he saw it. I will miss him dearly as will the hobby in general. His legacy is still with us and it is up to us to protect and help it grow.

I've known Rob since I first got into collecting coins which was only about twenty years ago, he was there when some of us started our local coin club. He was one of those guys who would always step up and volunteer to be President of the club or Bourse chairman of a coin show, and always did a great job. Rob was a great guy and will be greatly missed by our coin club and all of us who knew him as a great friend.

I didn't know Rob as long as most of you. I met him when I joined the Willamette Coin Club about twelve years ago. I only knew of Rob through the coin club, and not through any other social ways.

The coin club hosted several PNNA conventions, and Rob served as the Bourse Chairman. During dealer set up, I assisted Rob in arranging dealers' tables and putting signs on their booths. I was always amazed at how well Rob knew all the dealers and their likes and dislikes. He knew what to do in every situation. As usual, some dealers always had something to complain about, and Rob would take care of it and everybody was happy. Except once. A dealer from Mercer Island had been refused admittance to the show bourse, and he threatened to sue PNNA about the issue. Rob just quietly told him if he didn't like it, to see Larry Rowe. I had to handle it.

Quite often after regular club meetings, several members would go to a local pub for evening refreshment. Most of the time Rob was there. I always considered it a privilege to listen Rob tell stories about numismatic lore. He had a way of making any story come alive. Not too much impressed Rob, and he would always put his spin on whatever he was telling us about. His knowledge always impressed me and he was fascinating to listen to. His collecting specialty was Fugio Cents. He could talk about them endlessly and almost make you as excited about them as he was.

I had the occasion a couple of times to visit Rob at his home. The interior was beautiful, especially the basement. It turns out that Rob was an excellent craftsman, and could make almost anything. He had remodeled the basement and turned it into an additional room in the house.

Rob will be missed by all who knew him.
-Larry Rowe

Rob was President of the Willamette Coin Club when I joined. Rob was the person who encouraged me to become more active in the club, and offered me positions within the club. I will always be grateful to Rob for involving me and making me welcome. I knew him too short a time.

I'll miss Rob a lot more than I'll miss Ronnie.
-Robert Steinegger (Steiny)

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