Puyallup: News

Bob Minnich, passionate supporter of Puyallup’s historical sites, passes away

Bob Minnich, president of the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion, looks over some of the cracked and peeling paint of the mansion. Minnich, who passed away on June 14 at the age of 66, had a long history with the Puyallup Historical Society, and became president in the early 1990s.
Bob Minnich, president of the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion, looks over some of the cracked and peeling paint of the mansion. Minnich, who passed away on June 14 at the age of 66, had a long history with the Puyallup Historical Society, and became president in the early 1990s. Staff file, 2015

Stamped on a brick outside Meeker Mansion are the words “Bob Minnich, President for Life.”

Minnich had a long history with the Puyallup Historical Society, and became its president in the early 1990s.

“There was always a joke in the later years that he was a president for life because he was good at it,” said Andy Anderson, historian and current president of the Puyallup Historical Society.

On June 14, Minnich’s reign ended when he died at age 66 from invasive cancer while in hospice care.

His influence in the Puyallup community extended to many groups, from Puyallup Rotary to the Rhododendron Society to the Friends of the Library.

Bob’s older brother, Scott A. Minnich, who goes by Sam, teaches at the University of Idaho and said his brother would often call him with Puyallup updates.

He did a lot of volunteer work in the Puyallup community. He was articulate, he wrote well, he read everything.

Scott A. Minnich, Bob Minnich’s brother

“He did a lot of volunteer work in the Puyallup community,” Sam said. “He was articulate, he wrote well, he read everything.”

But Minnich’s pride and joy was Meeker Mansion.

“He did a lot of research and reading for Meeker Mansion,” Sam said. “I think he had a general love of history.”

Minnich grew up in a military family. His father, E. Scott Minnich, was an Air Force pilot, and his mother, Laurienne Stewart-Minnich, grew up in Puyallup. When his father retired in the 1970s, the couple settled in Puyallup.

Minnich’s father served as Puyallup mayor from 1980-81, and died later that decade. During his years as mayor, he would involve Bob in aspects of his work.

“His dad was involved with the (Puyallup Historical) Society,” Anderson said. “... His dad (gave) him chores to do.”

When a historic Puyallup tree, called the Centennial Walnut, was threatened to be removed, Minnich stepped in to prevent it.

“That’s where he was looking for allies and that’s where he found a lot of them,” Anderson said. “That’s his first real contact with the historical society. He rocketed up toward the top pretty quickly.”

That’s where he was looking for allies and that’s where he found a lot of them. That’s his first real contact with the historical society. He rocketed up toward the top pretty quickly.

Andy Anderson, historian and current president of the Puyallup Historical Society

Minnich’s passion for historic sites kept them alive in a growing community.

“He was very passionate about a lot of things,” Anderson said. “When he became passionate about something you didn’t want to cross him.”

Minnich was passionate for years about the repainting of Meeker Mansion, which is scheduled for this summer. While he’ll never be able to see the finished product, Anderson said the project is moving forward because of his influence.

Anderson said he still half expects to see Minnich around Meeker Mansion, fixing what he can of the historic structure.

“That’s the kind of the guy that he was,” Anderson said. “He was just doing things behind the scenes. And right now there’s nobody doing that.”

A memorial service honoring Minnich is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. July 16 at the Meeker Mansion.

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison

Memorial gathering for Bob Minnich

When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16

Where: Meeker Mansion, 312 Spring St., Puyallup

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