ENCINITAS — Robert “Bob” Charles Cozens passed peacefully and with the dignity that typified his life on April 2, 2012.
Cozens was born in San Diego on Jan. 21, 1919, the second child of five children reared by Bert and Grace Cozens in what was then a “sleepy” beachside town called Encinitas.
He and his wife Pat were set to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary this year.
Tom, the couple’s youngest of three children remembered the contributions that his father made to the community and his family. “I remember when I was four or five, going out with my dad in the truck to the grading area where he worked. This was in the Tonka truck-era and I thought ‘he actually drives those machines,’” Tom said. “It was how a boy should feel with his dad.”
The family grew up across from Stonesteps beach. “Mom and Dad loved the beach. It was always so much fun going down there with them,” Tom said. “My Dad didn’t surf but he definitely enjoyed the ocean. We would stay until high tide drove us up the stairs.”
In his youth Cozens enjoyed summer days at Moonlight beach and running barefoot through the fields that dominated Encinitas in the early 1900’s. His early education was marked by receiving his elementary and high school diplomas from his Grandmother, Annie Hammond Cozens, who served on both school boards. His athletic ability coupled with his parent’s encouragement to seek a college education lead him to San Diego State in 1937.
Serving his country during WWII, Cozens flew 25 missions earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with three clusters. Following his discharge in 1946, Bob remained a Lt. Colonel in the USAF Reserve until 1966.
Years after his military service he was instrumental in creating memorials for the many men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country, including his two brothers, Tom and Dick. “One of the things I learned from my Dad, when he took the lead in the formation of the 95th Bomb Group Memorials Foundation was that he saw the need to bring in younger generations as the veterans were making memorials,” Tom said. “He started inviting family members to the reunions. Instead of a “me first,” it was a “we first” attitude. They knew they needed each other to survive (in the war) and to achieve things for the greater good of the group.”
Cozens’ natural leadership skills innate concerns for his fellow man lead him to several avenues of local service. In 1960 he was elected Supervisor for the vast 5th District of San Diego County. His campaign promise was to “Bring government closer to the people.”
“As county supervisor he looked at what was better for the majority,” Tom said, “even if it had been against the family’s interest. It’s a pretty powerful lesson. You have to take a real wide view. He was always very diplomatic.”
When asked near the end of his life what he was most proud of, his answer was that “he had the opportunity to serve his family, his community, his county, his state and his country.” Cozen’s humble reply was typical of this unassuming icon. “Bob had such a strong presence that I can tangibly feel it just sitting here thinking about him. His countenance and demeanor and deportment were always inspirational. His manner was always commanding yet friendly; gentle even,” recalled Jim Herrick, executive director of the San Diego State Alumni Association.
“What sets him apart was his humility,” Tom said. “He didn’t ask for accolades they just came to him. He accepted them graciously.”
Cozens is survived by his wife, Patsy Anne, his sister Ann Largent, sister in law Helen Hamrick, their three children Rob of Manchester, CA, Lee and Tom both residing in Carlsbad, CA, their respective spouses Susan Stewart Cozens, Mike Mote, and Peggy Prettyman Cozens; grandchildren Ian Cozens, Govinda Crozat, Rada Cummins, Kris Harmon, Marc Hostetter and Adam Cozens; and great grandchildren Travis Crittenden, Kaitlyn and Jacob Cozens, Maddie, Boston and Finley Crozat, Makana and Kalea Cummins, Leo and Will Hostetter, and Sydney Grace and Sam Cozens, nephew Paul Largent, nieces Joan Largent Motch, Anne Hamrick Harkins, and Joan Hamrick Allen.
Services for Cozens will be 11 a.m. June 4 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.