Robert Major: 1920 – 2008

Poulsbo, Washington

August 9, 1920 – May 18, 2008

Robert Edwin Major died May 18, 2008 at the Hospice Care Center in Bremerton, Washington. He was born on August 9, 1920 to Basil K. and Helen Jane (Cartmell) Major in Cranston, Rhode Island. Bob spent his childhood in Wickford, Rhode Island, later moving to Columbus, Ohio and graduating from North High School in 1937. He served in Europe during WWII as member of the 9th Air Corps, 404th Fighter Group. After the war, he studied at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and earned a degree in Foreign Service. He worked for the government in Washington, DC and in Montreal for several years. He then worked for many years as an editor for McGraw-Hill in New York.

Bob moved to Seattle to be closer to his parents and sisters, working again as an editor, for the University of Washington Department of Publications. There he earned a degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis on sculpture. After Bob retired, he joined his sister, Betty, in the care of their blind mother until her death. Retirement gave him time to pursue his many interests. He was a talented artist, gardener and writer. He enjoyed writing haiku poetry and published several collections of his poems. He also won several national and international haiku awards. Bob was a Quaker, a member of the Haiku Society of America, the Kitsap County Dahlia Society, and was instrumental in establishing the Peace Park in Seattle. He lived a life of simplicity, generosity, and kindness and will be greatly missed by his sisters, nieces, nephew, their families and many, many friends. Robert is survived by two sisters, Helen “Betty” Major of Poulsbo, Washington and Mary Jane Leche and her husband The Rev. Edward D. of Friday Harbor, Washington.

Bob was a longtime member of the Haiku Northwest group, and most recently attended meetings of the Port Townsend haiku group. In 1997 he published a chapbook of haiku titled Shadows on the Shoji. He said in this book that he had started writing haiku in 1990. He also served for two years as the regional coordinator for the Northwest region of the Haiku Society of America. His haiku were published in numerous journals in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan. He leaves a haiku legacy that exhibited a distinctive style, usually in a 5-7-5 pattern, or close to it, and with memorable, well-wrought images.

silent Friends meeting . . .

the sound of chairs being moved

to enlarge the circle

the flute’s first notes . . .

three lavender petals fall

from the arrangement

mosquito larvae—

sudden fits of motion

in the rain barrel

reading by lamplight;

sounds of a summer night

press against the screen

reaching a wide stream . . .

the trail continues

on the other side

See also “On the Other Side: In Memory of Bob Major” by Michael Dylan Welch.