"He was always out there, always hard-working, and incredibly inspiring," said Stephanie Hagarty, a member of the Evergreen State Fair Advisory Board.
"Kids loved him, people loved him," said Rick Merrill, the fair board's chairman. "I never met anyone whose face didn't light up when they saw him. He was just one of those guys who made you feel better every time he was around."
Robert "Bob" Kash died March 31 after battling cancer. He was 66. Two weeks before he died, the Fair Advisory Board voted unanimously to recognize Kash as the 2012 Fair Honoree.
Nancy Kash will represent her late husband when he is honored at an opening-day ceremony at 2 p.m. Aug. 23 at the fairgrounds.
"He loved it. He was out there the whole time of the fair. I didn't realize how well-loved he was until the last few years," Nancy Kash said. Her husband kept up his fair activities after being diagnosed in 2010 with late-stage colon cancer.
The Kash home is now at Lake Martha near Stanwood. But Nancy Kash said it was a 1989 move from Kirkland to Monroe that began her husband's zeal for the fair.
Daughter Marnie, the youngest of the couple's four children, wanted a horse. "She's the culprit. That started it all," Kash said.
About age 11, before getting a horse, Marnie joined 4-H. She mucked out stalls at the fair, working to show she could care for the horse she would soon have. Bob Kash began volunteering at the fair's 4-H office, and helping kids as they competed with their animals.
With a keen interest in photography, Kash took on the role of 4-H photography superintendent. He also won awards for his own photographs. Kash, who worked many years for Comcast, eventually became the fair's official photographer, taking pictures of grandstand shows and other happenings at the fairgrounds.
"He was good friends with my late husband," said Hagarty, whose husband Doug Moening was the Evergreen State Fair's official announcer. After Moening died of a heart attack in 2008, he was recognized posthumously as the fair honoree that year, Hagarty said.
Kash and Moening shared an office at the fair. "They got to know each other pretty well," Hagarty said.
When Hagarty underwent treatment for an illness, she said that despite Kash's own painful cancer struggle, he sent her encouraging messages. "That was so inspiring and life-affirming," she said.
Hagarty and other Fair Advisory Board members went to Kash's home before he died to deliver the plaque designating him fair honoree. "He was very committed to his spirituality. When we took him the plaque, he was so at peace," Hagarty said.
Nancy Kash said that when board members brought the plaque to her husband, "he looked at me and said, 'Honey, you're going to have to pick up the pieces and do my job.' "
She'll attend fair events and ride in the Monroe Fair Days Parade on Aug. 25. A special car will be there, too.
Nancy Kash said her husband's 1966 Mustang Coupe will be in the parade. As his father fought cancer, Michael Kash and his brother-in-law, Don Avila, restored the car that Bob Kash bought in 1997. The elder Kash had hoped to fix up the dented, broken-down Mustang. He never got the chance, but his younger son and his son-in-law did.
In the last year of his life, Bob Kash was proud to drive the meticulously restored classic. "I had no words to express exactly what the boys did," Bob Kash said when his eye-catching Mustang was featured in this column in 2011.
Bonnie Hausauer, an accounting tech for the Evergreen State Fair, remembers joining Kash and other fair staff at grandstand concerts. "We all had a great time sitting out under the stars watching the shows," she said.
"Once you get into the fair family, you can't let go," Hausauer said. "We're going to miss his smile and his laugh."
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Evergreen State Fair Honoree
The late Robert "Bob" Kash will be recognized as the 2012 Evergreen State Fair Honoree at an opening day ceremony.
His widow, Nancy Kash, will attend the public event at 2 p.m. Aug 23 on the Xfinity Courtyard Stage at the fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave. SE, Monroe.
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