Though hard-driving, like every Knoles, Bob knew how to have a good time, often combining business with pleasure — and, occasionally, choosing pleasure over business.
Take, for example, his decision while at the University of Arizona to take a semester off in 1950 to be a “ski bum.” His father, the Senator, was skeptical. His brother, the General, would never have considered such a path. But Bob was his own man, wanted to be seen as more than a scion of an influential family.
“Bob had three jobs in college, things like hashing and cleaning up the dishes at a college sorority house and handing out fliers at football games,” Christina recalled. “Then he and a friend went to Sun Valley and later Aspen, where he worked busing dishes and got to meet (stars) like Gary Cooper. The FIS (Federation of International Ski) team was staying there and they let Bob follow them around. Eventually, he earned an alternate spot on that team.”
That was so like Bob, Christina said, always open to new experiences. But Flagstaff always had a pull on him. After returning to college and completing his degree, he took over the family bakery, where he worked hard, waking every morning at 3:30 to do all the baking, but also schmoozed with all the VIPs in town who came for breakfast of lunch.
“It was an iconic place; all the town’s business was done there,” Christina said. “Everybody went there. Mike (J. Michael) Flournoy, the former (Coconino County) judge, was a young lawyer at the time, and Bob told me that (Flournoy) was an insomniac. Bob thought he was the only one who ever got up at 3:30 every morning to go and make baked goods. But about 4:30, Mike was coming in the back door, waiting with his plate for a hot roll just out of the pan and serving himself coffee in the front before Bob opened.