Robert Milton Slater Jr. ….
Robert Milton Slater Jr.
Bob Slater passed into eternity on
Sunday, March 6. Even in his final illness, he did not look his age and still had a full head of hair. His hospice nurse marveled at his appearance and expressed jealousy over his beautiful, silver mane. Bob was a native of Long Beach, a rarity even in these times. He was born in 1932 to Robert Milton Slater Sr. and Olivia Slater. Bob is survived by his wife of 19 years, Rabbi-Cantor Galit-Shirah Levy-Slater; a sister, Marilyn Schlim of Sweet Home, Oregon; a son, Robert Arthur Slater, and his wife, Lynne Gale; two beautiful and talented granddaughters, Jazzie Miranda of Dallas, Texas, and Jenae Slater; and two greatgranddaughters, Prinstyn and
Blakelyn Miranda. As a child, Bob’s father would take him on his rounds to various South Bay markets where he sold cigarettes, and sit him on the counter, and Bob would sing for his father’s clients. He grew into a handsome teenager and attended Long Beach Poly, he studied opera. He was a tenor. One of his fellow classmates was Marilyn Horne, with whom he sang duets. Bob was married right out of high school and although he continued to sing, he realized he didn’t have the requisite “high C” to be able to have an operatic career, so he joined what eventually became the Long Beach Civic Light Opera Company, performing leads in virtually every production.
Although music and theater fed his soul, Bob knew he needed to also feed his growing family. He was a young, cocky man who looked even younger than his years, and he became a brilliant salesman, rising rapidly in the food business in Southern California. Bob now had two rambunctious sons, Bob and Gary, and the family was living in a new housing tract in Westminster. He discovered he was an incredibly gifted director in addition to his affinity for performing in musical theater. He founded the Westminster Community Theater, where he directed and often starred in all of the productions, drawing his neighbors into the shows he put on.
He was also very active in the Westminster American Little League. He helped build the field that still exists behind Westminster High School and coached many Little Leaguers who still call him “their coach.”
Bob left the food business and went into selling insurance. He rose to management as quickly as he had everything else in his life, and he remained there until, at age 58, after a second divorce, he decided that Leisure World was indeed the best-kept secret in Southern California. His mother lived in Leisure World as well and loved it, and Bob, married now to his third wife, became a happy resident as well.
Bob’s third marriage did not last, but Bob discovered a burgeoning need for entertainment in the community. With a fellow thespian in 1991, he formed “Imagination Theater,” which eventually became the Leisure World Theater Club. Once again, Bob was directing and starring in its musical productions.
In 1994, Bob was invited to a concert for Congregation Sholom of Leisure World, performed by its new cantor, Galit Levy. Galit eventually bought a unit in Leisure World and joined the Theater Club. Bob and Galit became friends, and Bob invited her to perform with him in his production of “Carousel,” which both of them had performed over the years.
When the show was over, Bob asked Galit if she would like to be his singing partner, performing duets from musicals in costume, changing behind a shoji screen. The act was called “Duets & Other Good Stuff” and they performed for clubs in Leisure World, on cruise ships and all over Southern California.
It was Bob’s suggestion to have as a signature song “All I Ask of You” from “Phantom of the Opera.” It was the song that made Galit fall in love with him, and they were married in March 2003. They never stopped being in love. In fact, when Bob was in hospice, Galit sang every duet they ever did together and their signature song was the song she sang as he took his final breath.
Although Bob was not Jewish, he attended every Friday night service with Galit to support her; when she became a rabbi, he asked, “What do they call the spouse of a woman rabbi?” She told him, “Lucky.”
Bob Slater lived in Leisure World for 28 years, and in that time, he gained the love and respect of everyone with whom he came in contact. He was president of the Video Producers Club, the Theater Club, the Community Sing Mutual 4, and even when he voiced his disagreement with decisions made by the Golden Rain Foundation and the Leisure World administration, he still was considered one of the most respected members of the entire Leisure World community.
There will be a Celebration of Life on March 31 at 4 p.m. in Clubhouse 2, to which all of Leisure World is invited.