ARNOLD--Robert Morris, of Seattle, noted banking executive, venture capitalist, and philanthropist died at his home in Palm Springs, California on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. Bob, as he was known to his legion of friends, died peacefully after a brief illness. He was 84. A lifelong resident of Seattle, with homes in San Francisco and Palm Springs, Mr. Arnold was prominent in Seattle banking circles as a long time Vice President and Director of the Seattle First National Bank. Additionally, he was a highly regarded angel and venture investor who possessed an uncanny eye for the next great idea. He was also a very active philanthropist who supported amongst other things the Fred C. Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Seattle Art Museum, Swedish Medical Center and Yale University. Mr. Arnold graduated from the Lakeside School in Seattle, Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and received his BA from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut in 1951. Following Yale, Mr. Arnold enlisted in the US Navy where he received his Aviator Wings in 1952. He flew jet fighter aircraft missions from two aircraft carriers, the Yorktown and Essex during and after the Korean War and retired as a Lieutenant, J.G. after his years of active duty service and a stint in the Naval Reserve. After his time in the service, he embarked on a career in finance, steadily working his way up through SeaFirst Bank. After the bank was sold in the early 1980s, Mr. Arnold turned his attention to venture financing and it was here he achieved his greatest business success. A pioneer in the field years before it became fashionable, he was attracted to the entrepreneurial spirit and the dynamism that evolved from the hatching of new and creative ideas. While he possessed the commensurate analytical skills to dissect a new deal, it was his ability to measure up the individual behind the deal that gave him an advantage. "Bob was a true venture capitalist. His steady hand and perspective were second to none." says longtime associate Cole Younger. His track record as an extremely successful investor and willingness to meet just about anyone with a good idea made him a favorite in the venture community. His fingerprints are all over some of the Pacific Northwest's most successful companies. Throughout his life, Mr. Arnold believed in giving back to the things he loved. Longstanding family ties to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Swedish Medical Center provided the catalyst for a lifetime of support. He loved the connection he had to these world class institutions but, more importantly, he loved what they were doing and how they were positively impacting lives. His support of the Seattle Art Museum was an extension of this philosophy. For decades he was a driving force behind this world class facility. Not only did he care deeply about the art, he wanted to ensure that his beloved Seattle had an art museum that could hold its own with any in the country. Finally, his connection to Yale was all encompassing. The years he spent there - the friends he made and the experiences he shared with them - provided the foundation from which he built his life. He made it a point to go to every reunion and stay in constant touch with his cadre of friends. In his spare time Mr. Arnold devoted himself to two passions - travel and friends. His itineraries were legendary in his never-ending quest to visit every country in the world. At the time of his death, he had traveled to 172 and had a new adventure on the books. His curiosity to experience different cultures and meet their people was unquenchable. However, it was his love of his friends, both old and new, that truly fueled him. To say he was a "people person" would be an understatement. Armed with a million stories and the style of a seasoned raconteur, he made countless friends throughout his life's journey. When he brought you into his orbit, there was no finer place to be. Not surprisingly Mr. Arnold was a longtime member of the Seattle Golf, Tennis and Yacht Clubs, the University Club and the Bohemian Club of San Francisco. He also enjoyed his role as a Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (San Francisco chapter). Mr. Arnold is survived by his wife, Patricia Arnold, his two daughters, Grace Arnold of Rancho Sante Fe, California and Lauren Gorter of Lake Forest, Illinois, son-in-law David Gorter and two grandsons, Christopher and Taylor Gorter In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be given to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center the Seattle Art Museum or the Swedish Medical Center. A memorial service will be conducted at St. Mark's Cathedral at 1245 10th Avenue East, Seattle, Washington 98102 on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 3:00 o'clock.
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Published in The New York Times on Mar. 3, 2013