The Seattle Daily Times Friday, December 2, 1921
Robert Bridges Dead
Once Active In Work Of Port Board
Former President of Seattle Commission and Former State Land Official Dies
Came To King County As Coal Miner In 1887
Could Neither Read Nor Write When He First Settled Here, but Became Close Student of Affairs
Robert Bridges, 60 years old, former State Land Commissioner, former President of the Seattle Port Commission and nominee of the Farmer-Labor Party for Governor in the last state election died at 8:55 o’clock this morning at the Taylor-Lacey Hospital in Auburn.
Mr. Bridges was taken to the hospital November 25 suffering from stomach trouble and a few days ago underwent a surgical operation. He is survived by a widow, six sons and a daughter – John, Robert, Thomas, James, Charles and Walter Bridges and Mrs. John Crumm. The body was removed to the Chittenden Undertaking Company’s establishment at Kent, where funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock, the Rev. H.E. Woodley officiating. Burial will be in Odd Fellows’ Cemetery in Kent.
Mr. Bridges was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, his father being a coal miner. When 8 years old, Mr. Bridges entered the coal mines as a worker. In his reminiscences, he often told of how the coal miners strongly opposed legislation by the British Parliament to prohibit the employment of children and to reduce the hours of the men. The miners feared that Parliament was infringing on their private rights.
Came to County in 1887
Mr. Bridges married early, coming to the United States with his bride when he was about 20 years old. He worked first in the coal mines of Iowa and Illinois and then came to King County, in 1887, obtaining employment in the Black Diamond mine of the Pacific Coast Coal Company. While in Iowa, he was thrown out of employment for a long time by a strike.
When he settled in Black Diamond he could neither read nor write, but he set himself the task of mastering both with a determination that was characteristic of his whole career. For the rest of his life, he was one of the most omnivorous students of standard books in the state. Beside the Black Diamond mine, he worked in the Newcastle mine.
When the strike of 1890 closed the mines Mr. Bridges moved to Seattle and remained here ten years, when he removed to Orillia, where he had two farms of more than 200 acres.
While living in Seattle Mr. Bridges’ first work was foreman of street building crews. Two years later he opened a small general store at the foot of Main Street on the waterfront. Selected as a member of the Fusion Convention in Ellensburg, in 1896, Mr. Bridges walked the entire distance from Seattle. The convention nominated him State Land Commissioner and he was elected, serving from January 1897 to January 1901.
On his return to his home in Orillia Mr. Bridges formed a copartnership with George McFarlane and conducted a real estate and insurance business in Seattle up to the time of his last illness, under the firm name of McFarlane & Bridges.
After successfully completing a drainage district in Orillia, Mr. Bridges next turned his attention to the problem of making an asset of the lower Duwamish River. He was active in the organization of the Duwamish Waterway Project and for a time managed the operations of that enterprise. The Port Commission idea for Seattle and King County at once attracted him and Mr. Bridges was elected the South District member on the first Board of Commissioners in 1911.
Four Times President
Mr. Bridge served on the Port Commission until late in the summer of 1919, when he resigned and returned to his home in Orillia. He was President of the Commission four times, succeeding the late General H.M. Chittenden in January 1915 and being reelected in 1916 and 1917 and again in 1919. From his retirement in 1919 until the summer of 1920 he lived quietly in Orillia and then he was nominated for Governor of the state by the Farmer-Labor Party.
Following his defeat for Governor he again retired to his home in Orillia.
All of Mr. Bridges seven children are married with the exception of Walter, who is a pupil in the Kent High School. Mrs. Maggie Crumm, the married daughter, is the only child living outside of King County. She is a resident of Auburn.