Mariposa & Yosemite

Mariposa's Bob Arbogast was a '60s L.A. radio star

Bob Arbogast achieved some fame as a comedy writer and radio personality and retired to Mariposa after winding up his long career. He reveled in losing track of time in the mountain air, but rejoiced in seeing a new era begin with President Barack Obama.

Mr. Arbogast, 81, died Saturday at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno. He recently had been diagnosed with cancer.

"He was always my best friend," Jan Arbogast said Friday of her husband. They became acquainted when she wrote him a fan letter.

Mr. Arbogast became well-known in Southern California in the 1960s working in radio, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 1967, he created a highly rated show on KLAC-AM with on-air partner Jack Margolis. They later took their radio act to television in Southern California. When he left radio, Mr. Arbogast worked as a voice-over actor and might have been best known for his work on the "Roger Ramjet" cartoon series.

The Arbogasts moved from Los Angeles to Mariposa nearly 17 years ago. The rural setting helped him recall his boyhood days growing up near Griffith Park in Los Angeles before much of the area was paved over, his wife said. Mr. Arbogast was a native of Bellingham, Wash.

In Mariposa, the Arbogasts delighted in puttering around their 5 acres. They mowed. They whacked weeds. Mr. Arbogast wrote letters to the Mariposa Gazette that established him as a liberal who used humor to disarm conservative folks, his wife said.

He had a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, said Mariposa chiropractor Jim Platto. "We would have great banter, and I noticed that he did that wherever he went -- the post office, the store," Platto said. "He just started up with people that way. That was his M.O., for sure."

The Arbogasts avidly followed the presidential race last fall, and were thrilled when Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared on election night before a crowd in Chicago.

"Our family ranges from blond to black, and we looked at the Obamas and Bidens on that stage and realized it looked like the Arbogast family," Jan Arbogast said. "We were very happy about that."

Mr. Arbogast attended the University of Arizona, but became a loyal UCLA sports fan -- which was ironic, because one of his sons, Pete, is the longtime football announcer for the University of California at Los Angeles' arch-rival, the University of Southern California.

Rooting for the Bruins extended to the end of his life. Last Saturday -- the day he died -- Mr. Arbogast and another son, Jerry, watched on television as UCLA competed in the men's NCAA basketball tournament.

"Jerry had to tell Bob what was going on," Jan Arbogast said. "But they had that moment."

UCLA lost the game.

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