Services for Bob McCaslin – who spent decades serving Spokane Valley as a fire commissioner, state senator and then, finally, as a city councilman – have been set for March 27.
The memorial service will be held at University High School, 12420 E. 32nd Ave., at 2 p.m.
McCaslin, 84, died Sunday after a long period of poor health. He stepped down from the state Senate after 30 years at the beginning of January, although he kept his seat on the Spokane Valley City Council, a position he was elected to in 2009.
“This is a great loss to our community,” Mayor Tom Towey said earlier this week. “(McCaslin) was deeply committed serving the people of Spokane Valley.”
McCaslin, however, had not been at the dais at Spokane Valley City Hall much in the past couple of months as circulatory problems and the removal of a leg kept him from his council duties as he went through rehabilitation. Last year, McCaslin missed much of the 2010 legislative session after undergoing heart surgery.
McCaslin, the retired owner of his own real estate firm, was a naval World War II veteran and graduate of Washington State University, where he received a degree in sociology in 1950. A resident of Spokane Valley for 57 years, he first worked for 18 years at Kaiser Aluminum before starting his real estate career.
McCaslin ventured into politics with a tenure on the Fire District 1 Board of Commissioners before running for state Senate in 1980, defeating longtime incumbent Democrat William Day. Over the years, he served on several key committees, including the Judiciary, Economic Development, and Trade and Innovation committees, as well as the Joint Committee on Veteran Affairs.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a fellow Republican who served with McCaslin in the Legislature, said she had fond memories of the former senator.
“When I served in the state Legislature, Bob was one of our most well-liked, well-respected members, and he will be dearly missed,” she said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family at this time.”
An advocate for personal property rights, McCaslin focused his work in the Judiciary Committee – and later on the City Council – to that end.
“No citizen should live in fear of government arbitrarily taking his or her property away to give to another private individual or business,” McCaslin once said. “I will work with others to end this potential abuse of power.”
“Sen. McCaslin could be tough, but he always treated people with respect,” said Jeff Baxter, who was appointed by Spokane County commissioners to fill McCaslin’s vacant Senate chair last month. “His commitment to this community always came first, and you always knew exactly where you stood with him.”
Rep. Larry Crouse also enjoyed his tenure serving with McCaslin in the 4th District.
“What a pleasure it was to serve by his side in the Legislature for all these years,” he said. “Bob was a man who spoke his mind and energetically fought for his constituents.”
A sharp critic of the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan, McCaslin ran against then-Mayor Richard Munson for City Council in 2009, winning along with four other candidates for “Positive Change,” when the incumbent had no other challengers. Many wondered if McCaslin could handle both jobs.
“That’s the question that keeps coming up,” he said at the time. “Obviously, I think I can.”
Crouse said the community won’t be the same without McCaslin.
“His sage advice, comedic wit and engaging smile will be missed,” he said. “The region lost a civic champion this weekend; many of us lost a friend.”