Bob Brenno was a Vashon guy, living all but five years of his life on the Island, he was known for his one liners and fantastic memory. Born to Harold and Ione Brenno in their Vashon home, he attended Vashon Elementary School and began working in his father’s gas station and garage at an early age. He attended Vashon High School where he was on the football and basketball teams, student body President, Boys Club Vice President and sports editor for the annual, graduating in 1952.
He attended Washington State University where he tried out for football and was a manager for the basketball team. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity at WSU, and an avid Coug fan through thick and thin. He loved to needle insults back and forth with Husky fan friends. Both Bob and Diane remained lifelong friends with Bob’s fraternity brothers and their wives.
In 1954 he married Diane Lehman a “summer girl” from Tacoma, who he met at the legendary Burton Dance Hall. In 1956 his daughter Karen was born and he went to work as a route driver for Nalley’s Fine Foods. The family moved to Port Angeles where son Brian was born in 1958. After five years in Port Angeles the family moved to Tacoma.
In 1961 Bob bought the Shell service station business from his dad. He ran Brenno’s Service from 1961 to 1977. He was proud of his list of over fifty employees at Brenno’s Service, many of them teens who worked manning the gas pumps, joking that he had a lot of ‘kids’. After closing Brenno’s Service he ran Brenno’s Auto Repair, which he took over after his dad retired in 1970. He had a special place in his heart for his customers, many of them Islanders of the older generation. He was known as the Service Call King for his ability to get any dead car started, unlocked, or towed out of the ditch. After retirement he and Bobby Lewis helped Brian build a glass studio in the old Brenno Repair Shop which he talked about often.
He was involved in the JC’s, Kiwanis Club and past President of the Pirate booster club. He was involved with the Catholic Church and volunteered once a month on Sunday feeding breakfast to the homeless at Nativity House in Tacoma for fifteen years. He volunteered at Chautauqua Elementary School for many years, helping third grade students with their multiplication tables, and helping Diane with Lunch Club.
Up to several months ago, he lived in the family’s beloved Quartermaster Harbor home where many guests were entertained over the fifty-seven years the family lived there. An avid waterskier, he enjoyed taking a run on a glass calm Quartermaster Harbor and taught many kids how to ski. He spent many an hour chasing the elusive salmon and not so elusive beer, fishing with buddies Stan Bokland, Bobby Lewis and son in law Steve Norbeck, and even more hours working on and swearing at his boats.
Bob was a devoted family man. He considered his kids, grandkids and great grandkids to be of his greatest achievements. He leaves behind his wife of sixty-five years, Diane and the family they created together: daughter Karen; son Brian and daughter-in-law Tara; granddaughter Märta and grandson-in-law Jeremy; grandson Soren; grandson Owen; granddaughter Olivia; and great grandkids Logan and Lilja; as well as his brother George and sister in-law, Barb and sisters Betty and Barbara. He was preceded in death by his older brother Buddy, mother Ione, father Harold and son-in-law Steve.
A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at the Sportsman’s Club, Saturday, February 1st, 1pm. Please bring a dessert to share.
Memorials to Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association and Vashon Senior Center fundraiser for Ober Park Project.
Due to allergies no flowers please.
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