Bob Connolly, beloved local engineer shared: “Life is pretty short. It’s too short to be unhappy.” After his passing on February 9, 2023 at the age of 69, these words ring even truer as his friends, family, and colleagues reflect on his life and recognize how much he embodied this sentiment. Bob pursued his passions and found bright spots in all he did, whether managing a new project on the SCJ Alliance team or heading for the horizon on his sailboat. He will be dearly missed by his wife Beth after 45 loving years of marriage and his 3 children Bryan, Sean, and Patrick, as well as by all of the wonderful connections he made living the fullest life he could. A Celebration of Bob’s Life will be held at the Olympia Yacht Club on April 7 at 4 p.m. for friends and family to memorialize his full life.

Bob Connolly at a desk when he was younger
Bob at work as an engineer during his early years. Photo credit: Beth Connolly

Bob Connolly Brought Passion and Mentorship to the SCJ Alliance Team

Bob was an engineer for his entire life, though along his career path he had landed himself in managerial positions overseeing teams of people. Recently, Bob had found that the heart of his work was not in supervising staff, but in creating innovative structures that could help change the world. The happiest times for Bob were always when he was working on a project and getting to utilize his creativity, passion, and skills to solve new problems through engineering. In 2018, Bob decided to leave his leadership position and joined the SCJ Alliance office in Lacey as a Senior Project Manager so he could focus his efforts on what he was most passionate about.

Despite the change, Bob was still an impactful leader with his new team at SCJ Alliance. With years in the industry and a knack for engineering and project management, Bob brought essential skills and knowledge to his coworkers, clients, and even his own supervisor. “We always joked about me being his boss since he had all of this experience,” shares Lacey Civil Engineering Manager Whitney Holm. “I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible to learn as much from him as I could. Even though I only worked with him the past year, the amount I have learned from him has been incredible and I am so grateful for that time.”

Bob wearing a blue wizard robe and a funny hat
Bob’s enthusiasm for life included full participation in themed activities. Here he’s shown at the Lacey office on Halloween in 2018. Photo courtesy: SCJ Alliance

While working at SCJ Alliance, Bob never shied away from a challenge and adamantly pursued the most difficult projects to keep his passion for the work burning bright.

Bob’s passing has been a great loss to the team. He was a great mentor across many departments. He was always available and eager to help answer any question, whether it was technical in nature or just about community and relationships. “I hope he knows that he made an impact,” shares Whitney. “I called a lot of his clients after it happened, and it was such good closure for me to hear all of them consistently say how thankful they were to have him on their projects and what an amazing person he was.”

During COVID, Bob used his sailboat Pandora as his office. Photo credit: Bob Connolly

His professional life exuded a love for people and making a difference. Not only did he meet all of the requirements of a qualified, respectable engineer, he wasn’t afraid to think outside the box while tackling new projects. He truly went above and beyond in all aspects of his life, which was evident to all who worked with him or alongside him throughout his career.

Bob Connolly’s Pursuit of Adventure on the Open Seas

Bob’s love of life extended well beyond his professional pursuits. One of Bob’s greatest passions outside of the office was sailing, and he spent much of his free time out on the water on his sailboat. The Olympia Yacht Club was a second home to Bob, where he served as the commodore and supported the club’s efforts even after his time of service. “He was very traditional from the standpoint of once you become a commodore, you are always a commodore,” shares friend Joe Downing. “He worked with a group of past commodores and really cared about keeping the club’s traditions alive.” Those that knew Bob at the Olympia Yacht Club felt the joy Bob had for the organization and for the art of sailing in all that he did.

Bob at the rudder during a sailboat race on his boat Pandora. Bob was an avid sailor and past Commodore of the Olympia Yacht Club. Photo courtesy: Beth Connolly

Joe’s wife Myra had served as a commodore, which was how he and Bob became friends. They spent many voyages together out on the open ocean in sail boat races all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. “We took several trips up to Victoria, Canada in the Swiftsure race, which is 50 miles out into the straits of Juan de Fuca and then back,” explains Joe. “Bob loved that race because it was pure adventure. At a certain age, it is more about the experience than the accolades, and there is no person that I knew who had more passion for the sport of sailing.” This joy and happiness is something Bob carried with him in many aspects of his life, and when looking back, he truly made an impact and lived a full life while being here.

Honor Bob with a Donation to Olympia Community Sailing

Wherever Bob went, he had a strong sense of humor, camaraderie, and community, which was exuded through his personal connections and the many projects he contributed to in the local area. From the Olympia Farmer’s Market to Heritage Park, there are pieces of Bob that will forever capture his zest for life, people, and architecture. Anyone wishing to commemorate Bob in his passing is invited to attend his celebration of life and to donate to Olympia Community Sailing in his name to help his spirit live on.


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