VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Clark County is mourning the loss of a man who brought joy to thousands during the Christmas season.
Rob Figley, whose jolly demeanor helped thousands during the holidays, died this weekend from an infection.
He has been Jolly Old St. Nick for as long as many people can remember. He has been just as popular in workplaces as he has been in people’s homes for years.
“We’d come in, do magic and do a little song with them — usually jingle bells,” said his widow Diane Figley, who played Mrs. Clause. “[We'd] have everybody come up and sit on his lap, give them their presents. Parents would take pictures and then we’d whisk away.”
Diane said entertaining people over the years brought as much joy to her and her husband as it did to those they visited.
“He loved that so many people felt comfortable inviting him and us into their homes to do something that’s so wonderful to do,” she said.
Rob Figley was president of The International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. He also was a minister, performing one of the first same-sex weddings in Clark County.
His Facebook page has been flooded with condolences. And his friends remember his laugh.
“I was at a barbeque with him this summer and you could just hear him across the field,” said friend Jim Mains. “You knew Rob is here because of that laugh, and it was just unmistakable … It really reminded you of Santa right here in Vancouver.”
Those who knew Rob Figley said his Christmas magic was with him all year around. And they said it will be hard to get through the holidays without thinking of the man who will always be known to them as St. Nick.
“There truly is a Santa, and he’s alive in our hearts,” Mains said. “And I really believe he’s going to live on in Vancouver’s heart.”
Update 9/23/13: A memorial service for Rob Figley is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. It’s scheduled for the First Congregational Church, 1220 NE 68th St, in Vancouver. Attendees can RSVP for the memorial through Facebook. His wife Diane asks that, in lieu of flowers, people bring an unwrapped toy or a Toys R Us gift card to the memorial — so Figley’s gift of Christmas can continue on for local children in need.