Obituary of James Robert Piatt
James Robert “Bob” Piatt, 84, left his loving family peacefully, in their presence, on March 25, 2021, in Tacoma, WA, due to complications following COVID-19 illness.
He was born to James Roy and Elsie Ruth (nee Barrett) Piatt, in Chehalis, WA, on January 16, 1937; the first of their two boys. His family would live in Fircrest, Carnation, and finally Tacoma, WA by 1949, following his father’s work at the Milwaukee Road railroad. Tacoma would become a beloved city for Bob, that he would always return to and lived most of his life, in addition to his affinity for Butte Montana, where he spent his high school years.
Bob was a Communications graduate of Washington State University. He created an extraordinary career in radio, television, and PNW wrestling promotion and announcing--an interest that can be traced to attending wrestling matches in the Tacoma Armory in the 1940’s-50’s with his father and brother.
During this time, he would also develop his love of news, current events, and history, and created the Tacoma Bulletin in 1951, a newspaper he wrote, handprinted, and distributed in North Tacoma at just 14 years old. These newspapers now reside in the Tacoma Historical Society archival collection. Railroad history and trains would also become lifelong passions.
He would go on to spend more than 5 decades on the radio, as a disc jockey and news reporter, beginning at 16 years old in Butte, Montana, countless radio/television stations throughout Washington, and in Alaska while in the Air Force in the 1950’s; and later television, predominately with KSTW, Channel 11, in Tacoma, until the late 1990’s. During his active career years, he was also the full-time radio broadcasting instructor for Clover Park Technical College, in the 1970’s-80’s; a role in which he relished working with young people and creating a unique, innovative Communications program.
Bob, a natural storyteller, was a large presence and loved engaging with people. He always wanted to add to the fun at hand, expose comfort, or contribute to the story. He worked with many famous people throughout his life but reflected on it humbly, always noting how fun it was. Bob was a Christian, devoted to his family, and especially proud of his children and grandchildren. He beamed when sharing with others his grandchildren’s talents. He will be greatly missed by family, friends, and all who’s life he touched and inspired with his affection, playfulness, teaching, and most of all, resilience.
Bob is survived by his wife, Billie Piatt; baby-brother John (Helen) Piatt; children, Royal (Robin) Piatt, Sandy (Adam) Sallean, Melissa Piatt (James Doty), Paula (Rob) Hall, and Joe Carper; and grandchildren, Nicholas, Alex, Aaron, Kye, & Kiara; Zack, Stephanie, & Sebastian; Daniel; Drew & Nick.
Bob will be laid to rest April 5, at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA, with full military funeral honors in a private ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions. A private Celebration of Life will be held honoring Bob’s life and legacy