Robert “Bob” Miller Giswold
July 1, 1948 – June 1, 2015
A wonderful husband, father, brother, uncle, friend and dentist and hiking, cycling, windsurfing and ski buddy, cosmologist, philosopher and pilot of his destiny and life, Bob will continue to inspire us to forever challenge ourselves to keep learning and live our lives with audacity.
Born July 1, 1948 in Seattle, Robert Miller Giswold was the son of William Giswold and Marjorie Miller Giswold.
He grew up in Kirkland, on the shores of Lake Washington, with his parents and sisters, Kathy and Cindy.
He graduated from Lake Washington High school, then attended Western Washington College. However, uninspired by school and struggling with his grades, he decided to take a semester off to experience something new by exploring Europe with only his backpack and a Eurorail pass. It was an experience which would prove formative and sculpt his life philosophy. While in Eastern Europe, he was faced with hardships including near starvation, isolation, and life-threatening experiences that began the shaping of his new outlook. But it was while in Turkey that he had a realization. He observed destitute elderly men running to make deliveries with 100-pound bundles on their backs. Seeing them sweat and struggle under the bulk of such heavy loads, earning barely enough to live, he awoke to the realization that he was fortunate to have so many opportunities that these men would never have. He returned to college with renewed drive to succeed in his studies and proactively pursue his vision for his life with audacity and determination.
Upon his return to Western, he started dating Sara Sakura, a fellow biology major. He charmed her with his Flemish pot roast dinner, sense of humor, enthusiasm for life, and beautiful skiing technique.
Having turned his grades around, Bob received his bachelor’s degree in 1970, fully prepared for a career in biochemistry. However, with few job prospects during the oil crisis, he followed his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and decided to continue his education and attend the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Sara attended Dental Hygiene School at University of Washington at the same time, and they were set to be a fantastic team.
They were married in July 1974.
In his first years as a dentist, Bob practiced beside his father, Bill Giswold, DDS. Then, Bob and Sara took a chance, and built their own dental office in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Luckily their new practice was a success and Bob was very happy that he had chosen dentistry as his profession. It fit his personality perfectly: it required lifelong learning, was a constant challenge and he loved the many personal interactions he had with his patients.
After a few years of city living, Bob and Sara decided it was time to continue pursuing their dreams and move to the country. Whidbey Island was the perfect place to build their “log cabin” and raise their growing family. It had all they desired; beautiful views of the water and mountains, creative community spirit, and best of all, it was close to Sara’s mother, Grandma Alice.
After the move they continued to work in Seattle, but 16 years of commuting and enduring increasing traffic took their toll. They sold the Capitol Hill practice and opened a new office, Saratoga Dental, in Langley in 1994. Unsure if the practice would do well, they were just happy to be living the life they had imagined for themselves. Together Bob and Sara nurtured their blossoming dental practice while continuing to work on their dream home to accommodate their growing family.
Bob and Sara had two children, Kelsi Nikkiko Giswold born in 1979, and Braden Hiroshi Miller Giswold born in 1982. Devoted to instilling in his children his same love for life and adventure, Bob made sure that outdoor sports and frequent travel were top on the list for the Giswold vacations. First were countless ski trips to Winthrop and Whistler starting when the kids were just toddlers. Then windsurfing vacations in Hawaii, the Colombia River Gorge and Baja followed. Summers were spent hiking, cycling and windsurfing. Travels included Europe, China, Ecuador and Brazil. Bob was constantly on the hunt for new and fun ways to add adventure, excitement and challenge to the family’s vacations. As the number of sports he enjoyed grew, his days working shrunk. Soon, his daily life was better than he had ever dreamed. The few days he spent at the office, he was challenged by exciting, advanced dental procedures, and when he was not, he was furthering his dental education, cycling, skiing, or windsurfing with his wife and kids. Life was good!
Seeing their parents’ joy and satisfaction with their profession, Bob and Sara’s children also pursued health care careers. Their daughter, Kelsi, is a certified Soma Neuromuscular Integration practitioner. Their son, Braden, took over the dental practice at Saratoga Dental in 2012, and is now the fourth generation dentist of the family. Nothing made Bob more happy than seeing his children enjoy their work, pursue lifelong learning, and continue the athletic lifestyle that he modeled throughout their upbringing.
Bob’s most profound experience was being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer in August 2014. Faced with his mortality, he tackled the challenge head-on, determined to learn all he could about cancer and death, and to be master of his thoughts and spirit through the journey. He maintained a positive attitude, not letting his diagnosis prevent him from enjoying his planned cycle tour of Slovenia and Croatia, annual windsurf trip in Baja, or a guided backcountry ski trip in Canada.
Bob always had a scientific mind, and with this new challenge he expanded his focus from the physical world to include the emotional and spiritual worlds as well. His studies in Ayurveda, psychotherapy, energy medicine, and Eastern philosophy combined with his scientific studies in cosmology, quantum mechanics and biology to paint a harmonious picture of life and death, and prepare him for his next journey. He faced cancer and death as yet another undertaking, an important life experience. By the time death was imminent, he was totally at peace and without fear. Bob passed away in the early morning of June 1, 2015.
A week before his death, in his last email he reflected to close friends:
“I find life to be richer than ever, introspection and gratitude being the focus.
“Perhaps I’m experiencing my true, innate nature. I have no ego and I have no need to compensate for anything. There’s no insecurity. I don’t sense panic or fear in my family. The whole family has a sense of wellbeing. … I am proud of us. We have all embraced this notion of my eminent passing with grace. Our goal has been to make this experience positive, rather than negative. And although the emotions are just under the surface, we can navigate through and with them, not letting them be the focus. We can laugh and joke, I can even sign checks! … I can joke about this. There is no stress. I’m very grateful!
“I hold you all very closely, you will remain ever-present in the next realm. I love you very much. This power will drive my spirit forward in my journey.
“Thank you, Thank you!
“I’ll see you everywhere.
— Robert ‘Bob’ Giswold”
An intimate celebration of life will be held on July 1 with family and friends. The family would be honored if you would like to say a prayer or chant “Om Mani Padme Hum” for his spirit and in his memory.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s name can be made to:
Island Beach Access at islandbeachaccess.org, Healing Circles of Langley at heal
ingcircleslangley.org or your favorite charity.