Posted On September 29th, 2013 -

9-29 ROBBIE RATH #2ROBBIE RATH Robbie Rath (Robert H. Rath II) was a keiki o ke kai, who loved the ocean and made it his playground as well as his life’s work. Robbie was born and raised in Honolulu. He attended Punahou School and Menlo College, later graduating from University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in geography. From the age of 15, when his family built a beach home on the North Shore, Robbie’s passion was surfing. His favorite surf spots were Ala Moana Bowls, Chun’s and Laniakea. His surf name was “Old Man.” His wife, Ginger Waters, describes him as a “Soul surfer. He would say he wasn’t religious but the closest thing to religion for him was surfing. He said you can’t deny there is a God when you’re at one with a wave, with the mountains as your back drop.” Robbie went surfing on the last day of his life. Robbie was a decorated Vietnam War veteran with the 9th infantry Division of the U.S. Army. He was in a long range reconnaissance team in the communications division. He was an advisor to and fought proudly with the Queen’s Cobra Unit of Thai soldiers. He said he admired and respected them on and off the battlefield. Robbie received a Bronze Star for acts of heroism in a combat zone and a Purple Heart for being wounded in action. He also received a commendation from the Queen of Thailand. Pacific Resources Inc. hired Robbie to oversee operations. He traveled to Tonga, Fiji and Samoa for PRI to set up operations there. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he saw the future – that there would be a need for a team of experts to respond to oil spills. He was a founder of Hawaii’s Clean Islands Council, a consortium supported by the oil companies that partners with the national Marine Oil Spill Response Corporation and the Coast Guard. While working for Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), Robbie gained international respect for his handling of the Iron Baron oil spill on Hebe Reef off Northern Tasmania. His environmental work was so lauded that the Australian government and BHP held a dinner in his honor, bringing both Robbie and his wife, Ginger Waters, to Melbourne to receive an award. Robbie became a consultant and formed his own team to provide oil spill response and mine safety training. His company was called RathResponse and he worked with experts from all over the world in such far flung countries as Colombia, England, Peru, Chile and Australia. Robbie and Ginger first fell in love as teens in 1963. They met again by happenstance 26 years later, in 1989, and married in 1991. Robbie is survived by his wife Ginger, his sisters Paula Rath and Roberta Cullen of Honolulu, three children: Tiare Rath of New York City, Heather Rath of Hilton Head, S.C. and Rob Rath of Hong Kong; and two grandsons: Gray Dimaria and Davis Hama. A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, October 3, at 4 p.m. at the Elks – Honolulu Lodge No. 616, 2933 Kalakaua Ave. The family requests that donations be made to Palama Settlement, 810 N. Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96817.

- Denotes U.S. Military Veteran