Holbrook passes away Friday at age of 79
By Sam Catanzaro
Former Santa Monica Mayor Bob Holbrook has passed away at the age of 79.
Holbrook–Santa Monica’s longest continuously serving City Councilmember–passed away at his home Friday, December 11 after a long illness.
He first assumed public office in 1982 as a School Board Member, the beginning of 32 years as an elected official in Santa Monica.
“After two terms on the School Board I ran for Council and I’ve often joked that the reason for my successful run was, as President of the School Board, I had handed out the diplomas at the Samohi graduations and so I was known by so many families,” Holbrook–a graduate of Samohi himself–told the Mirror in 2014.
Holbrook was born in 1941 in Santa Monica at the former St. Catherine’s Hospital on 4th Street. After World War II, his father returned from the Navy and they moved to Ocean Park. Bob and his sister Cherie attended John Muir, John Adams and Samohi schools.
“In our last semester at Samohi everyone took a class to prepare us for the work world,” Holbrook said in 2014. “It was in the Ocean Park Library, doing my homework, and I found out from the reference book I was using that I was eligible to go to college. Because of the Great Depression my parents hadn’t been able to go to college so my going was a big deal in my family.
“I went to SMC and I also worked at McCarthy Drug Store on Montana Avenue. The owner, Tom McCarthy, was the Mayor of Santa Monica at that time and he gave me my first exposure to what it meant to be in politics. I liked him. I learned so much from him. He was a good guy and always helping everyone,” Holbrook added.
After SMC Holbrook went to USC and earned a pharmacist’s degree before joining the California Air National Guard.
“It is the only time in my life I’ve been away from California for so long. I spent six months in Texas and Alabama being trained by the Air Force,” Holbrook said. “They asked me to enlist and become an officer. I had different ideas. I wanted to come home and marry Jean Ann. I came back to California and got a job working as a pharmacist at Thrifty Drug Store.”
Jean Ann and Holbrook married in 1967 living in a house on 10th Street, and soon after had three children: Bob Jr., Cindy and Craig.
“By 1982 we had three kids in their early teens. Jean Ann talked to me about the School Board. The School and the College Boards were going to split into two Boards. That meant there would be open seats on the Boards and Jean Ann suggested I run for the School Board,” Holbrook
Holbrook did run and was elected serving two terms. In 1990 he decided to run for City Council and emerged as the second-highest vote-getter in the election. Holbrook went on to serve continuously on the Council for a record six terms until 2014.
As Mayor, Holbrook sought means to combat homelessness and improve the quality of Santa Monica’s public spaces; an instrumental force in building Tongva Park and a memorial at Woodlawn Cemetery to honor local veterans. His impact was felt far beyond the borders of Santa Monica. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Mayor Holbrook led an aid effort sending trucks, forklifts and cranes to Bayou La Batre, Louisiana.
Holbrook is survived by his wife Jean Ann, their children Bobby Jr., Cynthia and Craig along with four grandchildren.
Due to the pandemic there will be a private burial. A public celebration of Bob’s life will be post pandemic.