Robert Bruce Elliott

June 26, 2023


Robert Bruce Elliott died on June 26, 2023 at approximately 3 pm after suffering for 10 weeks with pancreatic cancer.

Bob was born in 1939 in Owensboro, Kentucky, the son of Barney and Wilma Elliott (Greenwalt). He grew up working at his parents’ hamburger stand in Morganfield, Kentucky, where the family moved when he was in fifth grade, and where, when he was in high school, they hosted post-basketball-game crowds. In his senior year at Morganfield High he set a record (never matched) for most points scored (49) in a single game for the “Guerillas.” Wilma was fond of saying that all the girls wanted to date “Bobby” because he was such a good person, so trustworthy. Offered scholarships in basketball and football, he opted to play basketball for the Citadel Bulldogs in Charleston, South Carolina, where he played under Norm Sloan and where he further honed his natural (but never showy) sense of personal honor, discipline, and the strong work ethic he carried into all of his future dealings. Of the more than 800 cadets who initially matriculated at the Citadel, only a little more than 300 graduated. Of these, Bob was ranked 27th in his graduating class.

Following college, he attended medical school at the University of Louisville through the Kentucky Rural Loan Scholarship Program and completed an internship at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by a tour of duty as a General Medical Officer for the Air Force in Korea. When he was back from Korea, he was stationed in California, near Carmel, where he met a six-foot-tall schoolteacher, his wife-to-be, Elizabeth, “BJ,” at a “beer party.” Family back in Kentucky were mildly scandalized by her miniskirts and progressive West Coast ways. He always gave BJ credit for steering their lives in the right direction, saying toward the end, “we lived a beautiful life.” Following their marriage in Port Townsend, in 1969, he fulfilled the terms of the rural loan scholarship program by working as the small town, family practice doctor for Paris and Millersburg, Kentucky, after which the young family, now with two boys, Greg and Scott, moved to Seattle where he completed a residency in Radiology at the University of Washington.

Following the residency, his young family returned, with an additional son, Andrew, to Louisville to join a successful radiological practice at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville (now Baptist Health Louisville), where he distinguished himself for more than 30 years as one of the top radiologists in one of the most successful practices in the state, living in Anchorage, Kentucky, raising his three boys with Elizabeth, restoring an 1890s house, and financing SAGE Farms, a thoroughbred and miniature horse venture.

Bob was a lifetime early riser, known for accomplishing more before 9 o'clock than many accomplish in an entire day. He would often say, “Tomorrow we’re getting up early, and I mean early.” Some of the friends who traveled with him and BJ to destinations around the world nicknamed him “the camp director” for his penchant for making the group’s plans for the day.

Humble to a fault, and despite his own accomplishments, he was most proud of his sons and their accomplishments, often steering conversations away from himself and toward Scott, a novelist and English professor at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; Greg, a diagnostic radiologist and partner at X-Ray Associates, the same Louisville practice as Bob; and Andrew, a specialist in tax law and a partner at Brownstein, Harber, Hyatt, Schreck in Denver, Colorado.

During the last six years of his life with BJ, he was the proud caretaker of a mid-century modern house atop Morgan Hill in Port Townsend (where BJ grew up and where they were married) and where he enjoyed the home’s ever-changing view of Admiralty Inlet, Whidbey Island, the Cascades, and Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, tracking ship and animal traffic, feeding and observing hummingbirds. He enjoyed hosting visitors at this house, including his boys, their wives (Jenna, Laura, and Beth) and eight grandchildren. Among visiting grandchildren, who loved and adored him, he was famous for making wry jokes and delicious breakfast sandwiches, giving $20 handshakes, stocking lots of ice cream, and piling on the whipped cream.

He is predeceased by his parents Wilma and Barney Elliott; his older brother, Barney Elliott; his younger brother, Stewart Elliott; and survived by his older sister, Jody Hansen; his younger brother, Jerry Elliott; his wife Elizabeth Elliott (Crist); his sons Scott, Greg, and Andrew Elliott; and his grandchildren Katie, Caroline, Ben, Thomas, Gus, Joe, Harper, and Abby Elliott.

He will be remembered as a dignified but down-to-earth absolute rock of a human being with an otherworldly capacity for focus and hard work, and as a keeper and restorer of order who also had the gifts of a ready dry humor and a well-developed capacity for extending thoughtful hospitality, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to all he met.