Don Bobb, known to many as Donnie, and to even more as Denver East High School’s Mr. Bobb, passed away on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.
Born in 1940 on his father Abe Bobb’s 40th birthday, Don was a proud second generation Denverite on his mother Blanche Holdner Bobb’s side.
Raised on the infamous West Side, Don loved to tell stories about growing up in the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood, and being part of the historic Denver Jewish community.
Don cherished the lifelong friendships he forged during his childhood and formative years attending Colfax Elementary, Lake Junior High, and North High School. A key element of Don’s humanity, heart, and soul was his talent for building and maintaining relationships on a familial level from early in his life. Long before it was trendy to select and pick your family, as an only child Don made a concerted effort to cherish all of his biological family members and to build a very large extended family throughout his life’s explorations.
A diligent student, Don graduated North High School early and attended his first year of college at the California Institute of Technology. Missing his parents and Denver, Don returned to commute to the University of Colorado Boulder to complete his bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He began graduate school at the University of Arizona, where he started a master’s in chemistry and met his first wife, Janis, and some of his chosen family-friends that he maintained until their passing. Again, he returned to Colorado, and earned his Master’s in Science Education at CU Boulder.
Don continued to take advantage of graduate programs in science and education for many years at various universities, including Stanford, Bowdoin, RPI, and Cornell. He worked summers and as needed during his school years at his cousin’s jewelry business, his dad’s liquor store, the original Bauer’s restaurant, and as a chemist at Rocky Flats.
Don ultimately found his calling in secondary education. He started his 34-year career as a beloved science teacher in the Denver Public Schools in 1965. A firm believer that a strong democracy requires the highest level of public education, Don taught chemistry, geology, general science, biology, physics, and astronomy classes, first at Manual High School and later at East High School until his retirement in 1999.
Don’s tenure as a memorable and notable teacher at Manual and East built a legacy that continues to this day. Don forged long lasting friendships and connections with his professional associates and students during his years at Manual and East. He inspired new generations of teachers and educators, including his family and children.
An avid supporter of experiential learning, well-rounded student-athletes and community members, Don sponsored student clubs and activities, and encouraged his students to explore their interests and passions. Don designed and led unique field trips to give his students the best learning, growth, and bonding experiences (and to share his love of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming’s geology, natural beauty, and history). Don created amazing and life changing events for his students who were able to enjoy the customized geology trips, white-water rafting experiences, and amazing spring break Mexican adventures in Chihuahua and Baja California.
Don was known to be one the favorite teachers to many decades of DPS students. While so many students adored his mentorship and unique style of teaching, many did not. For some he was one of the ‘not so beloved’ teachers because he was one of those true educators who made his students think and assimilate knowledge, rather than memorize and repeat information.
Don loved to fish. His children, students, and friends' children remember formative fishing lessons from him. In later years he enjoyed watching competitive fishing shows and investigative shows like “River Monsters” to see the variety of big fish and the amazing natural beauty of their watery homes. Don even met his first Border Collie while fishing. A true dog lover and enthusiast of many pet varieties (including turtles, hermit crabs, and lizards), Don was proud to share the story of inviting Missy into his family after meeting her while fishing near his mountain home in Leadville. He would delight in clarifying that Missy accepted his invitation only after inspecting the house and meeting her new family members. Missy inspired Don’s adoration of Border Collies.
Don was a dedicated sports enthusiast. Childhood friends fondly remember playing “Over the Fence,” a 3-person modified baseball game at Colfax Elementary. Many remember playing baseball and softball and the antics experienced during those sandlot style games.
Don adored watching a wide variety of sports, and supported his high school students’ endeavors by coaching baseball, and assisting the basketball and football coaches by providing statistics and analytics. But nothing ever compared to his love of baseball.
While he was originally opposed to Denver having an expansion MLB team, Don learned to support the Rockies and attended games, but not quite as frequently as the Bears and Zephyrs of old. His children fondly remember spring break trips to see the Colorado Rockies’ spring training in Arizona. It was a particularly memorable year when his children were asked to throw out the First Pitch of the game, and Cal deferred to Abe, allowing him the honor, much to Don’s immeasurable pride in both children.
He supported his children’s sports dreams by driving carpools as needed, chaperoning away swimming meets, and traveling to innumerable softball and baseball tournaments. Don’s early retirement enabled him to be the quintessential softball and baseball dad. Don was immensely proud to support his child Cal’s educational success and softball career at West Point and traveled to follow their team’s tournaments.
During Abe’s years at the University of San Francisco, Don was thrilled and very proud to spend his weekends enjoying the delights of San Francisco and supporting his son’s baseball successes during Abe’s exceptional university career.
Don truly loved to travel. As a teacher, Don’s first and second families enjoyed the luxury of shared vacation time and the long summer holidays to travel North America. Luxury travel in 5-star accommodations was not something he needed or preferred – Don loved long car trips and train travel. His deep love of Mexico and Mexican cultures started in the 1970’s, not only as he developed student trips to Chihuahua, but also explored much of Mexico via car and sleeper train. Along those travels he met and maintained chosen-family relationships with families from Chihuahua, to Baja, to Jalisco, to Oaxaca.
Don knew the value of the road trip and took advantage of the opportunity to visit family along the way whenever possible. He was always strategic with his road trips, building in stops of geological or historical interest. Childhood friends who had moved to other areas were prone to visits by Don during his road travels. His daughter, Julie, learned to read by “helping” and being his navigator driving between Colorado and New York for his supplemental University programs. Throughout the years the family collection of AAA maps and Trip Tics would be marked with special restaurants and important stops, notably Mom’s Diner in Utah.
Don used to say that the best part of having family out of state was the built-in excuse and opportunity to travel to visit them. Daughter Julie appreciated that before she had even left to start her time as a Peace Corps volunteer, Don was planning trips to support and visit her.
When his cherished wife Margaret retired in 2018, Don and Margaret took to the skies and waterways to explore the delights of Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and South America. Don fell in love with a number of new places, notably the São João Festival of Porto, Portugal where the world’s best fireworks show was one of his favorite highlights.
In the past year Don and Margaret explored South America, Portugal, the Mediterranean, New Zealand, and Australia. While planning his travel adventures prior to and post Covid, staying true to his modus operandi, Don became close friends with one of the cruise sales representatives who helped him live out his travel dreams to the fullest.
Don will be greatly missed by his extended friend-family circle in so many places and ways.
Don is survived by his wife Margaret Cook Bobb, first wife Janis Schwartz Bobb Lynch, and children Julie, Callum, and Abe Bobb.
Graveside interment services will be held on Sunday, February 26 at 1pm at Rose Hill Cemetery led by Don’s friend Rabbi Eliot Baskin.
The family welcomes everyone to attend and also to visit as they sit Shiva, the Jewish tradition of receiving visitors (family and friends) to share memories and condolences.
It's an open house format, with food and beverage on the following dates at
1557 South Dexter Way, Denver, CO 80222:
Sunday, Feb. 26, 3-7pm
Monday, Feb. 27, 3-7pm
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 3-7pm
Rabbi Gruenwald of the HEA will officiate an afternoon minyan during Shiva at the home at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 28th.
Floral gifts are discouraged. Donations can be made in honor of Don to the Nature Conservancy, the ACLU or to the cause of your choice that honors Don’s values.
The links can be found below.