Robert C. Kershaw

February 3, 1938May 9, 2019

Adventurer, sportsman and farmer Robert C. Kershaw died on May 9, 2019, in Yakima from a sudden onset of pancreatic cancer. He was 81. Bob was born in Yakima, Washington on February 3, 1938 to Ronald and Betty Kershaw.

His adventures began on the family farm in Gleed with his brother Ed; their partnership in life and work would last eighty years. Only eighteen months apart, they were each other's best friends. They attended Lower Naches Elementary School and later Roosevelt Grade School and Franklin Junior High. They spent many hours riding horses and even more time catching them and their sister Mary Ann. Their most famous exploit, at ages 4 and 5 respectively, involved sneaking into the back of an empty horse trailer and riding 40 miles to Toppenish, before their parents realized they were missing.

At the age of twelve, Bob climbed Mt. Rainier with Cragg Gilbert’s Scout Troop 9. He spent his teens climbing all of the Cascade peaks where he made several first ascents. He fondly remembered REI as just a tiny storefront where serious climbers purchased their gear and he was proud of his low coop member number. That was just the beginning of many climbing adventures in the northwest. At seventy he would hike around Mont Blanc with his wife Skippy.

He graduated from the Yakima Senior High School in 1956. During his senior year, he was named athlete of the week in football (his favorite sport) and skiing. While in high school, Bob participated in regional and national junior ski championships. During college, he trained with the U.S. National Ski Team at Aspen Colorado in preparation for the 1960 Winter Olympics. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1960.

He married Karen Helliesen in 1961. Kristin was born in 1965 and Robert in 1969. They had many happy adventures sailing and skiing together. Karen and Bob planted their first apple orchard in Sunnyside, Washington in the early 1960s. The rabbits ate all those first trees, but setbacks never stopped Bob.

The average farmer gets forty chances or forty harvests to get everything just right. Bob lived to see fifty-eight harvests and loved every one of them. Each was a chance to finally achieve perfection. His greatest joy was to mentor and tend young employees and young trees. He believed that all successful harvests started in the spring with frost control. He delighted in taking new employees out in the middle of the night to start wind machines and light smudge pots. He loved the Gala apple; the Fuji was a close second. Alongside his brother Ed and later with his nephew Brian, his son Robert, nephew Kevin and daughter Kristin, he grew the Kershaw Companies from a small farm in Gleed to a vertically integrated agribusiness. In 2013 he retired from his office, but never from the company.

In one of his life’s great second chances, he married his high school sweetheart, Skip Keeney in 1999. They spent almost twenty years together traveling the world, skiing, and sailing. Bob was happiest skiing in Sun Valley with Skippy trying each day to carve the perfect turn. Bob was also particularly delighted to gain two stepsons, Scott and Mark Keeney and stepdaughter, Laura Shimchick and six additional grandchildren.

At the end of his life, he was asked if there was anything he still wanted to do. Bob replied that he had done everything on his bucket list—some of them twice.

Bob and his brother helped develop the University of Washington Business Certificate Program for employees of Yakima Valley employees. He played an instrumental role with Rep. Sid Morrison adding additional acreage to the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area and 23,000 acres to the White Pass Ski Area in the Washington State Wilderness Act of 1984. Bob was a life member of the Seattle Yacht Club.

Bob is survived by his wife, Skippy, his daughter Kristin Snapp (Joe): his son Robert (Rachelle): grandchildren Charlie and Allie Snapp, Robby and Ryan Kershaw. Stepchildren Scott Keeney (Janet), Laura Shimchick (Paul), Mark Keeney (Paula): step-grandchildren Elizabeth and Kate Keeney, Miles and Marcus Shimchick and Alex and Griffin Keeney. He is also survived by his brother Ed (Mary Ann) Kershaw, sister Mary Ann Robinson (Dale) and nephews Kevin Kershaw, Tripp Robinson and niece Kathy Champagne (Chris). Preceding him in death are his parents and his nephew Brian Kershaw.

There will be a gathering on Thursday, May 30, 2019, from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Yakima Country Club. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Cottage in the Meadow: 1208 S 48th Ave, Yakima WA 98902, or to the charity of your choice.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at


30 May


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Yakima Country Club

500 Country Club Drive
Yakima, WA 98901


Robert C. Kershaw

have a memory or condolence to add?

Barbara Cline

May 17, 2019

Hello to Skippy,

Please accept my most sincere condolences.

Although it has been quite some time ago that I worked with you and Bob at your residence (and with Bob and crew at your office addition) I have fond memories of getting to know you and Bob as you taught me the very useful idea of a "memory mark" as a positive thing, in a renovation. The sense of adventure you both had was wonderful and I hope happy memories continue to support you now.

John Crews

May 15, 2019

During our many wonderful times skiing together in Sun Valley, I came to know and respect Bob Kershaw as one of the finest men I have ever known. Bob was always honest, sincere, enthusiastic, and dedicated to striving for the best in everything he did. He liked to work hard, sought enjoyment in every moment, and always had a twinkle in his eye revealing a great sense of humor, even when things appeared to be tough.
Early mornings on top of Bald Mountain will always bring back fond memories of skiing with Bob, and for those many wonderful memories, I will be forever grateful. It was an honor, and a great pleasure, to have spent many happy hours skiing with my friend, and kindred spirit, Bob Kershaw.
We look forward to seeing Skippy up on the mountain in 2020, all of us, in our own way, continuing Bob's lifelong tradition of searching for the perfect turn.

With love for Bob and Skippy,
John and Janet Crews

Graham Anderson

May 15, 2019

Today is Wednesday may 15and I just heard my long time ski buddy had passed away. He told me at the end of March that this had been a great year. He was planning to get an early season pass for next year. He and Skippy took an early up at 8 AM this year with Christie and me. What a morning!
Our thoughts are with the entire family but especially Ed and Skippy who we have known for the longest time. Wishing all of you the best and Skippy Christie and I are looking forward another sunrise run in 2020.
All our love
Graham and Christie Anderson

Tom Hale

May 14, 2019

Dear Ed,

I'm sorry to have heard of Bob's death. You two made up such a great partnership, sharing gifts and responsibilities to great effect. Bob made a difference, as do you.

I fondly remember visiting you both, with Bob giving me comeuppance and you mediating. I always enjoyed (and benefited from) the experience because I knew it was from the heart.

Best wishes as you and the rest of the family as you deal with goodbyes, and plan next steps in life.

Blessings to you,
Tom Hale

Bob and Margaret Albrecht

May 14, 2019

We will always remember all the good times we’ve had over many years skiing together at Sun Valley. Bob was always an inspiration seeing how he loved life and his wonderful family. He will not be forgotten. Bob and Margaret Albrecht