Robert Fredrick "Bob" CARLSON

  • "Sorry to learn of his passing. I remember him from many..."
    - Eric Zoerb
  • "I had the honor of getting to know Bob as a friend. We had..."
    - Austin Bennett
  • "I had the great pleasure to know and work with Bob in the..."
    - Joe Lufkin
  • "It was an honor to work for Bob in the Caltrans Legal..."
    - William Morrisroe
  • "It was an honor to know him and his family, he will be..."
    - Brandy Houser

CARLSON, Robert Fredrick ''Bob''
Former Chief Counsel of CalTrans and CalPERS Board
of Administration Member for 37 Years - Has Passed Away at 82

Robert Fredrick Carlson, who died on September 4, 2010, was a highly respected attorney, business executive, academician and intellectual who received many accolades throughout a long and influential career. He served the legal community and people of the State of California throughout his distinguished career.

Robert or ''Bob'' as his friends and family called him, was born on January 28, 1928 in Sacramento, California. He was educated in his formative years at Immaculate Conception Grammar School and the Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento; he subsequently went on to become a Regent for the Christian Brothers High School in later years. Bob earned a primary degree, a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary's College in 1949. At the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws and Letters, Juris Doctor degree in 1952. Bob was named Hastings Law School Alumnus of the Year in 1996.

Bob was a member of the Sacramento County, California and American Bar Associations. Bob was admitted to practice before the California and United States Supreme Courts. As an academic, he was Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of the Pacific and McGeorge College of Law and instructed courses in Eminent Domain Law and Government Tort Liability Law. He was extensively published in respected Law Journals, was an accomplished lecturer and academician and served on many influential panels, both domestic and international. He was listed in the Who's Who in the West and Who's Who in American Law. He also worked for Governor Brown's Special Commission on Government Reform (Alan Post Commission), Advisory Committee on Government Tort Liability. He traveled widely throughout the world, meeting with many Heads of State, and believed that his education was a continual process that only ended with his recent passing.

Bob was the past president of the California State Employees' Association. Since 1970 he was a member and past President for the Board of Administration, California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) for 37 years. As President of CalPERS (1976-1985) he was responsible for the retirement and health benefits for up to 1.3 million active and retired California public employees and their family members. After his retirement from State service in 1985 as Chief Counsel of the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans), he was elected to the CalPERS Board of Administration retirees seat, a post he held until recently. He was the Chair of the Finance Committee and Vice Chair of the Executive Performance and Compensation Committee. He also served on the Benefits and Program Administration and the Investment Committees. In addition, he served on the ad hoc Committees for Real Estate, Information Requirements/Presentation of Information; and Investment Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. Bob was a well respected member of the board whose first and foremost concern was for the security of the fund, employees and beneficiaries. In Bob's honor, the auditorium at the Headquarters of CalPERS in Sacramento is named the Robert F. Carlson Auditorium.

Bob was past Chairman for the Legal Affairs Subcommittee for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. He was the former Chairman, for Legal Resources Group, Transportation Research Board and National Academy of Sciences. He was also the past Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of Sutter Community Hospitals and past board member and Vice Chairman for the Sutter Health System. He also was a former corporate board member of Blue Shield of California. In the world of finance, Bob served as an independent director for 110 mutual funds for the Franklin-Templeton Group. Bob was a 30-year member of the Sacramento Elks, Lodge 6 and a Third Degree Knight of the Knights of Columbus. He was generous to his friends and to many organizations.

Bob visited many countries of the world. He loved learning and kept current with world, national, and state events. Robert Carlson was a hard working, well respected, generous, and honorable man. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Bob is survived by his wife Barbara Jean Carlson (Werner) (Zoerb) and former wife Elizabeth Carlson (Meyers); sons, Richard (Roxanne Mehlberg) and former wife (Judith McTernan), Kenneth, (Mary Lane) and daughter Diane (Dan Cheetham); stepchildren, Kevin Werner (Linda Salazar) and Kerry (James Fitzpatrick); 8 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Richard (Nancy Blair) and Kenneth (Mary Carew) and former wife (Mary Baughman); his parents, Fred N. and Kathleen B. (Catherine Evans); grandparents, Frederick Carlson, whose former Finnish name was Fredrik Koutonen and Asna (Koskinen), Thomas Mathew Evans and Catherine (Cunningham).

Bob's family is grateful to the staff at the American River Care Center in Carmichael and Kaiser Hospital in Roseville who cared for him dearly in his final days and hours.

Family and friends are invited to attend a vigil at 7:00 pm on Thursday, September 30th at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 5057 Cottage Way, Carmichael, CA 95608. The Mass of Christian burial will be on Friday, October 1st at 10:00 am at Our Lady of the Assumption Church with a reception in the church's St. John's Hall after the service. Interment at St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery will be private. Donations in Robert Carlson's name can be made to Christian Brothers High School, 4315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95820.
Published in The Sacramento Bee on Sept. 12, 2010
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