Now, yet again, the selection committee has chosen a great candidate for Pioneer Day Marshal to represent El Paso de Robles. Bob Tullock, PhD has led a life that most could only dream of. We’ll explore that in a moment but setting the stage, Bob is a super family man, had a terrific career and really stands apart for his non-stop “giving back to the community.”
“What defines a man is not what he does, but rather, what he does for others.”
Let’s step back to the beginning and look at Bob’s life.
Born as Robert Johns Tullock on Oct 3, 1940, his parents Margaret and Robert Sr. undoubtedly had no clue as to what lay ahead. She was from Edmonton, Canada and he from Rockford, Ill. They met while Bob Sr. worked at Santa Isabel Ranch and she was across the street at the Drew Ranch. They married in 1936. Bob was sandwiched between an older sister, Dorothy and a younger one, Karen.
Bob attended Templeton schools and graduated high school in 1958. Bob said he wasn’t the greatest student and decided to go to work after graduation. Taking a variety of jobs, he found himself doing grunt work in Atascadero delivering feed. He also noticed that guys who were doing the same work, but had a little more formal education, were making more money. The light dawned that if he wanted to get ahead or even get married, he’d need more money. With that, he enrolled in Taft College for a year and then transferred to Cal Poly.
Bob had always had an affinity for the soil, perhaps because he also raced motorcycles or maybe just because it “felt natural as he recognized it all comes from the Earth.” It didn’t take long for Bob to go just nuts over a pretty little gal named Janet Brown whom he’d met at her father’s motorcycle shop. They married in the Fall of 1962 at the Methodist Church on 14th and Oak, just as he was about to enter Cal Poly.
College years were hectic. Bob and Janet lived in a mobile home in SLO. She worked at Central Savings while he attended classes and worked at odd jobs, most of which were auto-mechanic oriented. Bob kept his full-time student-schedule by taking at least twelve units each quarter. Folks were dropping off cars for him to repair every weekend. He even became a refrigeration tech. That would keep most over-busy, but not Bob. Daughters Judie and Peggy were born while he was in school. In 1967, he graduated with a BS in Soil Science. Bob describes the degree as “the nuts and bolts of agriculture.”
Bob wasn’t even really sure what states were next to Indiana but his professors suggested he attend Purdue. “Why not do it?” he thought. The family moved and Bob became a working student as a TA (teaching-assistant) while chasing his MS degree in Surface Properties of soils and non human-made things. The work paid the bills and in 1970, he received that degree. “Hey, let’s keep going,” they concluded so they stayed at Purdue while Bob pursued his PhD. In 1972, he was awarded his doctorate in Soil Chemistry just as third daughter, Terri was born.
Life was busy and more moves were about to happen. Bob was offered a Post Doctorate position in Riverside as a researcher in soils. That worked for a while and then Purdue called him back for a full-time teaching position. Somehow that didn’t work but a new position in Oregon as a teacher did pan out. Cal Poly Pomona needed a soils teacher and again the family moved. After three years, Bob became the department chair. He realized students really didn’t know how to properly write scientific results so he taught a writing class geared toward report writing in their academic area.
With all the moves and the varied, yet similar positions, Bob was becoming well known. His very likable personality opened even more doors. The USAID was funding a horticultural project via a consortium of universities. The catch? It was to be in the country of Yemen! This time, they didn’t pack the Chevy but half-way around the world they went for three years.
It was a tremendous opportunity for the daughters to learn a 180-degree different lifestyle and all that came with it. When the funding ceased, so did Bob’s commitment. Back to California. For the next ten years, Bob taught at Cal Poly Pomona.
Generations earlier, Janet’s family had homesteaded in Paso. As Bob decided to wind down the 9 to 5 life, they gravitated to Paso to a much smaller parcel of the original land. Bob became a commuter to Pomona for five years. In 2002, he formally retired and dove deeply into the other chapters of his life … giving back … and old vehicles.
We know that the Paso area history is just phenomenal. It’s hard not to get caught up in participating. Mr. Tullock had volunteered here and there since the mid-90s but he also worked full-time. One day, Bob walked into Pioneer Museum and asked then board president, Bob Bryant, “What can I do to help?” The Museum owned a 1913 Maxwell that was originally sold in Paso. The time was close to Pioneer Day. Men were trying to start it but to no avail. Bob suggested they step outside for a moment to cool off and then try again. By the time they came back, it was running just fine and from that moment, Bob was the Museum’s car guru.
His little secret miracle led to a relationship with the Pioneer Day Committee as both organizations share the campus on Riverside. Further, it allowed Bob to have full access to all the parade vehicles with engines. Bob soon was on both boards and has continued since the mid-90s.
Next came Rios Caledonia as part of the preservation of adobes. Bob has been chairman of that organization for a couple terms.
Bob’s dad owned the blacksmith shop in Templeton from 1951 to 1996. As it turns out, the shop is right next to the Templeton Museum. Guess what? Yep, Bob got involved with that entity in 2000 and has served two terms on that board.
Remember the soooo cool and interesting Ag Tour? It’s just held its last event this year but imagine a soils guy in town who loves to have an audience and a microphone and knows his way around! It took no urging at all for Bob to sign up. For the past ten years, Bob has been a bus tour guide.
Pioneer Day Parade, microphones, Bob — Hmmmm, there’s a fit! For the last ten years, Bob has been a parade announcer. He has so much information that people love to get close to his station to hear it all. For now, they’ll have to wait until next year as the committee decided to not allow him to broadcast from the Marshal’s car this year!
While all these are fun and interesting organizations that Bob made a difference to, perhaps his most fun one is the Woodland Car Museum at Warbirds. Bob had known Gary Corippo since high school and when Gary started Warbirds, Bob was interested. However, when Dick Woodland developed the Woodland Car Museum, Mr. Tullock was all in. You see, Bob had been collecting vintage vehicles for years. Woodland Museum spurs on car collectors and Bob was at the top of the list. He’s been with the Central Coast Model T Club for 20 years! Bob owns six vintage vehicles … all of which are fully operable and driven often. A “23” Model T is one Bob, Janet and their two older daughters will be in for the parade with Bob driving. There is another “T”, three Model “A”s and a ‘41 Ford. The ‘31 Model A will follow with youngest daughter and youngest granddaughter. Bob calls this Model A car his ‘Pioneer Car’ because it was brand new in the first Pioneer Day parade in 1931. Bob says he has a few more in various stages of being works-in-progress.
Dr. Tullock is a great guy and he deserves every bit of the Marshall’s honor. He said he’s thrilled to have been chosen and he has loudly praised the Committee for choosing him and the City of Paso Robles for maintaining the tradition. Even more enthusiastically, Janet, their daughters and his close friends top his list of those he thanks for their love … and patience!
Congratulations Bob. Well deserved!