Robert John Tretwold

April 28, 1925 - February 18, 2023

Robert John Tretwold

April 28, 1925 - February 18, 2023


Bob “97” passed away peacefully on February 18, 2023. He was born on April 28, 1925, to parents Theodore and Pearl Tretwold in Bellingham, where he lived his entire life. He joined an older brother, William “Bill” Tretwold.

His interest in music started at age 11 when he developed a love of the saxophone and clarinet. His musical interests led him to write music and play professionally in traveling bands to cities like Chicago and New York.

Bob graduated from Bellingham High School in 1943 and served in the US Navy from 1943-1946 aboard the SS Gilmore submarine tender. He carried his saxophone with him while on duty and played in a Navy band.

He earned a private pilot’s license in his early 20’s, loved snow skiing, dancing, music, motorcycles, woodworking, metal working, all forms of welding, and was an avid hunter and fisherman. Bob loved boating and built several boats, from his first 21 ft. boat to his last 50 ft. boat.

Bob married the love of his life, Bette Hanke, on Dec. 15, 1950. They were married until her death in 2006. Together they welcomed four children.

Bob worked at Georgia Pacific until he started San Juan Engineering & Mfg. Co. with Clyde Bergman in 1958. He was an innovator of the Fresh Water-Cooling System. San Juan became a successful company and had a major contract with the US Navy, building cooling systems for Vietnam River Patrol Boats as well as contracts with Mercury Marine.

Bob and Bette became “snow birds” and purchased a second home at Chaparral Country Club in Palm Desert, California. In retirement, he took up golf and had four holes-in-one to his credit.

Bob and Bette instilled in their children the values of love, honor, integrity, a love of God & Country, love for all people and nature. They had much but were simple people. Their family song was “Let the Rest of the World Go By.” The Tretwold/Hanke legacy is their family.

Bob was a member of the Bellingham Executive Club, Elks Club, Bellingham Yacht Club, Bellingham Wheel and Keel and Chaparral Country Club.

Robert is survived by his children, Teri (Mike) McCulloh of Fort Worth, TX, Greg Tretwold of Cape Cora FL, Leanne (Brad) Keel, Blaine, WA and Gary Tretwold, Bellingham, WA. Grandchildren are Chris (Hilary) Breanna (Greg), Josh and Austin (Emma). Great grandchildren are Gemma, Kingston and Ida. Special friend Naomi DeGolier.

Thank you to Spring Creek, BrightStar Care & Hospice.

Military Honors service and reception will be held on August 11, 2023 at 1:00 at Greenacres Memorial Park 5700 Northwest Drive, Ferndale, Washington.

TRET “old 51” Over and Out!

Interment with Military Honors

  • Date & Time: August 11, 2023 (1:00 PM)
  • Venue: Moles Farewell Tributes Greenacres
  • Location: 5700 Northwest Drive Ferndale, WA 98248 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (360) 384-3401

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2 responses to Robert John Tretwold

  1. Service in August will include memorial for Mom as well. Her ashes are being buried with Dads. Her marker will be with Dads marker.

  2. What a tribute to your dad, you know we loved him and your mom. We long for days gone by with our loved ones. Will hold tight to the memories. Love to you Leeanne, Brad and Josh.

    Jeff and Vicky

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