Da Count – they call him RP

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To call him one of my best friends will not suffice. A brother from different parents, one of my mother’s other sons, a partner in crime… all of these may verge closer but still not encompass everything that was Robert Alan Paul… RP… a nickname I bestowed upon him… that stuck.

rpn1-550x375We met in college – thrown together by Sandy Shafer, a music professor when I was in need of a musical director for my show “Frogway”. Once that project was done I said to him, “We’ll work again…” and we did… collaborating on the creation of several original shows together.

At times, when we got together, and a little into our cups. I’m sure those around us would roll their eyes as we regaled them (again) with shared experiences… especially the tale of a crazy weekend in San Francisco… and how we wrote an entire show between Livermore and Firebaugh as we drove back home.

The thing is… everyone he knew has an “RP story.” (Feel free to share yours in the comment section.)

mxmas13-550x412We continued working together facilitating and getting many other shows onto the boards over the years. In 2002, when I was mounting the first ever Rogue Festival, RP had just come out of a bit of a fix… and I was in a fix for tech. I called and he was there… gladly. He is one of the few who continued to be a part of it from the start.

I could go on and on but it wasn’t just the work… it was more than that. How much more? There was always a place for him at my home and one for me at his.

For many years we ate, drank, laughed, cried, sang, acted, traveled, created and always supported each other through this sometimes bumpy journey of ups, downs, triumphs and defeats… all part and parcel of this conundrum and gift we call life.

He wore his heart on his sleeves… sometimes a little too quick on the draw…  but it was a badge he wore with pride. He shared with no reservation and from deep within the heart. He was gloriously imperfect – a true champ of a guy.

scan111509hSure, he pissed me off… like I pissed him off. And yes we disagreed… often passionately. But it was OK because none of it was ever out of malice. And on a few occasions we agreed to disagree but always leaving the field of battle with mutual respect.

Over the last few years we didn’t hang out as we used to… like in our single days. He had married a wonderful lady who completed his happiness. I for one couldn’t have been happier for him… and continued to be.

Our lives widened separately. Yet when opportunity and occasion presented itself we would commiserate with the glee of two little boys geeking over a new toy. Always starting and ending our visits with big unabashed hugs.

rpterry1Early this morning I found out he passed away the night before. Yes, it saddened me that we wouldn’t ever share a meal or experience together again. Yet, I was at peace knowing that my friend had lived a full happy life… and one that made a difference for many.  This morning when I spoke to Terry, his wife, I thanked her… for being there… for completing him.

So, today I’m counting RP and the wonderful and strong Terry. RP for the portion of his life I had the joy of sharing. Terry for the fortitude and joy she gifted to my friend.

And when they say RP… many smile for their own reasons.




  1. Perfect, Marcel.

    I met RP through Rogue and through Suicide Lounge. Later, I’d listen to him play piano whenever I could. On occasion, it’d be only me in the joint while he played. Those were the times when he’d throw out the set list and play straight blues for 30 or 40 minutes, while I listened. Those were lovely times with a lovely man. Gonna miss you, brother.

  2. I met RP and the Suicide Lounge when I attended one of their Rogue shows. I was Stage Managing a show, I can’t remember which Ventoux show it was, but asked the band if I could promote the show. Not knowing anything about me the entire gang happily agreed to the request and even introduce me so I could do so. Every time I saw him or any member of the group after that day they always had a smile and greetings filled with love. I was not close to him by any means but I always felt so welcome in his presence. Another friendly face, gone, but definitely not forgotten. All of my love to those that are affected by his loss, as Jay said he was a lovely man.

  3. I’m so sad to hear this. You and RP gave me my big Fresno Children’s Playhouse break as a rat in Jack. 🙂 First of many fun shows I did with him. My favorite memories are the hours we spent in your backyard doing Weedwacker shows, and of course the very special “white” dinner we shared before we vanished off into our college years. I’m sorry for your loss.

  4. This says it all. Thank you, Marcel.

  5. The best hugs, the warmest smile and the sweetest soul. R.P. I’m gonna play the music box you gave us when we packed up for Spokane tonight. Thank you for being part of my world.

  6. That was wonderful Marcel. I have so many wonderful memories of RP thru the Playhouse and Laundromat, he was always such a wonderful, kind and loving friend and has and will always have a special place in my heart.

  7. I’m so sorry. Beautiful tribute.

  8. Beautiful words for a very kind man. Always a big smile, a good laugh and a hug. I’ll miss him. Lots of us will miss him.

  9. This year was my first Rogue on staff, but RP threw hugs around my daughter and I like we were long-lost friends. And I think that’s just how he was. I will miss him and miss the chance to know him better. But I’m so grateful for the time we did get to meet.

  10. RP is one of dozens of great people and great artists you brought into my life, Marcel.

    You write eloquently as always, but I’m not buying it. RP and you are brothers indeed, and you’ve had too much family loss in your life. RP loved you like no other, and yet he made us all feel like that.

    This is one of those tragic losses where no one says “meh, he was okay.” RP is the light of the world. His loss is dynamic and encompassing. Bless you and Terry.

    My sympathies to you all.

  11. I like how you say, “Everyone he knew has an RP story” – because RP’s story of joyful self-giving was large enough to fit all of us. Is large enough. English language tenses of past and present don’t hold a candle to the spirit of this beautiful man.

  12. i knew RP from having him as my high school band teacher at Caruthers High. I recall when I was in junior high, watching the band at the high school football games thinking that the half time shows with he and the band were WAY more exciting than the football game itself.
    So so many memories are flooding my mind.
    I recall the time he let us have a ‘B’ band. At our spring concert, he wanted to surprise the audience by having the WHOLE entire band switch instruments and be able to play a song on an instrument we’d only had studied for a week or two. I chose the clarinet. When he told the audience that we were switching instruments for 1 song- they were shocked! I walked down to sit with the clarinet and he was right infront of me conducting.
    I squeaked my reed at the beginning of the song- he looked at me- our eyes met and we couldn’t stop laughing. He was trying SO hard not to laugh and keep conducting, I couldn’t stop laughing and we both just couldn’t stop ourselves. Afterwards he told me he couldn’t even look at me because he was busting up laughing and trying to get a grip.
    Both our cheeks hurt from laughing so much that night.

  13. It sounds like something people just say when they have to….but he really was so deeply kind and caring. Someone posted on FB about the way he would hug you. He had the best hugs! Like he couldn’t be happier than he was in that moment, seeing you and hugging you as if you were the most important person in the world right then. It never occurred to me I would never have that hug again. What an amazing human being. We are all so very fortunate to be able to call RP our friend.

  14. I first met RP when he started teaching my brother in band. He would then become my band director in the 5th grade and all through high school. He introduced me to Fresno Children’s play house where we did several shows together while I was in high school. He also played at my wedding. I’m so sad that we had lost touch after I moved out of state. He was a veru talented man, a great teacher and friend. I’m blessed to have been able to know him.

  15. RP helped me overcome a fear I had of singing. He encouraged and accompanied me on the piano. He gave me confidence. I was pretty good, as it turned out. Thanks RP.

  16. My husband used to sing with Robert in high school.He was a sweet man! We had lost touch over the years but we would like to say goodbye.Does anyone have info on his funeral? Rip Robert…

  17. Sara (Sawyer) Wilson

    I’ve stumbled upon this years later, but I’ve often thought of RP over the last, gosh, 20 something years, but wasn’t able to find him. I met him in Jack and he was just so nice and supportive. He wanted me to switch high schools and come be in his band. He and I were actually on the phone (him lending an ear to an angsty teen) when the news about Princess Diana broke. We were both just so shocked. I’m so sorry that this world has lost such a bright soul.

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