Pensacola, Florida
Thursday October 17th 2019

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Outtakes—Losing the Past & Future

By Rick Outzen

My brother Rob Outzen passed away last week while on a business trip in Portland, Oregon. When I prepared to write this column, I came across this quote that rang true: “When a parent dies, you lose the past. When a child dies, you lose the future. When a sibling dies, you lose the past and the future.”

Rob was third among the Outzen siblings. My father had an affinity for the old Charlie Chan movies and found it easier to assign the four older sons a number—Rick #1 son, Hugh #2 son, Rob #3 son and Martin #4 son. Collectively, we were known as the “brothers,” and our two youngest siblings, Drew and Susan, who were born 11 months apart in 1969, were referred to as the “little ones.”

Our father passed away in 1980, and our mother died a few years ago. Dealing with our parents’ deaths was difficult, and we did lose a bit of our past with their passing. However, I never thought of losing a brother or sister. The hole in our hearts is very different. Rob was both our past and future.

The age range of the “brothers” was six years, so we all grew up together—sliding down the Mississippi River levees on cardboard boxes, playing “army” at the Vicksburg National Military Park and spending one week each summer in a cinder-block house on Pensacola Beach. We fought, teased and mostly laughed at the weird predicaments the Outzen family often found itself.

As #3 son, Rob had to carve out his way different from all of us. He worked on river towboats, in lumber yards and retail. Rob got to see the country as a field auditor for Goodyear Tire and Rubber, rising to the level of senior auditor for North America. My brother and his wife Vickie loved cruises and traveled extensively.

Rob probably was the most practical of the “brothers” and had a down-to-earth leadership style. He genuinely cared about the people around him and easily won their respect and friendship.

This spring, Rob and Vickie sold the home in Colorado and had decided to live in Gulf Breeze full time. Rob and I had set up monthly lunches and had begun to reconnect and talk about bringing all the family together for a reunion. We talked about our futures a lot.

I’ll miss his sly smile, the twinkle in his eyes when he shared a story and the visual connection he provided to my family history. It’s a loss I will never get over.