Bob Rasmussen remembered for mentorship, giving back
Lyn Demaret remembers her father, Robert Irving Rasmussen, as a kind, patient and modest man and as someone who always made loved ones feel special on their birthday.
“Every time we had a birthday he just always made a big deal about it and you were kind of the center of attention,” Demaret said.
On Sunday, Demaret’s brother, Erik Rasmussen, celebrated his birthday without his father for the first time. Demaret said their mother, Geraldine Rasmussen, was worried Robert Rasmussen would miss out on his son’s birthday.
Robert Rasmussen died Saturday of amyloidosis, a rare disease caused by an abnormal protein called amyloid building up in the organs. The disease, if severe, can cause life-threatening organ failure.
Robert and Geraldine Rasmussen, his wife of 54 years, moved to Havasu more than 50 years ago, after Robert Rasmussen’s father convinced him to relocate and open The State Bank, one of the first local community banks in the city. Since then, Rasmussen served as a mentor to many business leaders and has been credited for helping businesses open and stay afloat in Havasu.
Rasmussen also helped found the first London Bridge Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Partnership of Economic Development and Community Fund later changed to River Cities United Way. Demaret is now president and CEO of the local United Way.
“I don’t think there was anything he wasn’t involved with helping get started in the community,” Demaret said.
While playing a major role in a lot of businesses and organizations, Rasmussen never sought recognition for his achievements, said Jerry Ernst, president and CEO of Horizon Community Bank. Ernst credited Rasmussen with helping him open Horizon Community Bank and for always advising Ernst’s business decisions.
Ernst said Rasmussen tried not to be in the spotlight, but made a lot of moves behind the scenes and knew a lot of important people in the community that could help him help the Havasu community.
“He was kind of almost like The Godfather in his ability to call in a favor and get something accomplished,” he said. “But it was always good. It was never evil.”
John Parrott, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, met Rasmussen in 1975 when he opened a bank account at The State Bank. Parrott, Ernst and Rasmussen were among a group of guys who met for lunch almost every weekday, at the London Bridge Rotary Club on Wednesdays and at different restaurants around town the rest of the week.
Parrott said Rasmussen was a really good banker who got to know his customers and helped a lot of people in Havasu.
When he learned of Rasmussen’s death, Parrott sent Geraldine a photo he took of Rasmussen in Spain holding a bottle of wine. In the last few years, Parrott traveled with Rasmussen a lot, taking trips overseas and throughout the US, Parrott said.
“I think that’s how I’ll remember him,” he said.
Rasmussen also traveled with his family a lot. Every winter, the family visited Brian Head, a ski resort in Utah, where Rasmussen insisted his daughter would learn how to snow ski, a memory Demaret said will stay with her.
She said her mother, after realizing the impact Rasmussen had on the Havasu community, decided instead of having a more private memorial gathering, the family should host a celebration of life, allowing more friends to share memories.
“I’ve always said that if I could be half of who my parents are I know I’ll be a good person in life and I really hold true to that after seeing how people felt about my father,” Demaret said, choking back tears. “And how they’re going to miss him as much as my mom and I do.”