A collaborative tribute written by Tiffany Klarin
With contributions from Jaclynn Vines, Ron Vines, and Michael Klarin
He came into the world as a complete surprise and unexpected miracle on January 28, 1977. “He was the greatest gift I've ever received in my life, says his mom, Jaclynn Vines. Born of her heart, Rob came to our family through the selflessness of a beautiful adoption. Rob was a cherished member of our family from the moment of his birth. He was sealed to us when he was one year old.
My beautiful baby brother grew into a rambunctious, curious, and even more beautiful toddler. He was our little doll. My sister, Kimberlee and I used to dress him up in our clothes and put bows in his hair early Saturday mornings. He loved it and he giggled right along with us. He got into everything! My mom has often referred to him as a “curtain climber.” He earned that name; he really did climb the curtains! But that playful little boy always had a gentle, sweet innocence. I remember Robby in his Superman jammies standing silently and staring at me at my bedside. He wouldn't say one word; he'd just stand there until I finally woke up with a jolt. He wanted to go downstairs to watch cartoons, but he was too afraid to go down by himself. It was impossible to resist his sweet, little boy charms.
Right from the beginning, Rob did things his own way. As a little boy, he loved ice cream and macaroni and cheese and that was about it. My mother worried about her little man who was as skinny as any active little boy, but he ate only when he wanted and he ate only what he wanted. He may have been a picky eater, but he embraced a wide range of activities and enjoyed all of them thoroughly. Robby was so excited about baseball, soccer, golf, swimming lessons, and going on his first airplane ride. He loved his little motorcycle that he rode when he was only four, and his first pair of skis that he broke in when he was only two.
Rob was a natural athlete from the age of six months. Even then he could hold a miniature basketball. He loved all kinds of sports and, at around the age of 12, he fell in love with skateboarding. My mom worried about him, but he managed to talk her into it. It didn't take long before we became regulars at “Hot Skates” in Brea and at the local skateboarding ramp. I got a call one night at work from my mom who was in hysterics because Rob had gotten into a terrible skateboarding accident. She told me that his face was blown up like a balloon, because he had landed on it. I remember following the trail of blood into our condo when I got home later that night. But, no amount of discouraging could keep Rob off of his skateboard. He was back on it again before his wounds had healed. Rob's passion for golf and determination to make it in the golf world was the most recent example of this fierce independence. I think he knew he was going to wear the green jacket someday and he was willing to work as hard as he had to to get there.
As Robby grew, he developed his love for nature and the outdoors, and reminded us almost everyday how much he disliked school. He did well but he didn't like it. My sister and I would sit and help him with his homework until we realized most of the time that we were doing it for him. As Rob got older he decided it was time to go and live with his Dad, our step mom Shelly, and our brother Bud. While my mom understood his need, she struggled to live without her little man at home. It didn't take long for Robby and mom to find a way to continue their wonderful relationship. They spoke on the phone often. It was at this point in Rob's life that he began to golf with his very best friend, Steve. My mom was so happy that Rob had found something he was excited about.
One difficulty Rob faced living away from us, was that his grades began to slip. After many conversations about grades, my mom and Robby made a deal. Robby had to bring his grades up to a 3.5 and my mom would take him on a trip to Pebble Beach. Rob put his mind to it; he buckled down. He got the grades and he got the trip. My mom, Rob, and I drove to Pebble Beach that summer. Rob was really excited to play at one of the most beautiful courses in the world. And he didn't lose his focus even on the first tee. It's pretty intimidating to tee off in front of a captive (and very critical) audience, but Rob got off to a great start on that round. When we came back to pick him up, one the top caddies approached my mom and said, “We need to talk about your son's future.” He explained that they had never seen anyone who could drive a ball like Rob except Tiger Woods. My first thought was that they just wanted to take my money, but they never did. They just wanted to contribute to the career of a talented young man. They continued to stay in touch with Rob and support him into his adulthood.
Most of all, Robby loved was his family. He loved his Mom, and he never liked to be without her when he was little. As a child, she used to drive with him on her lap. Looking back now, I can't believe she did that, but Rob wanted to be there and she couldn't bear to let him be upset. Rob loved his Dad. When dad came home at night they loved to roughhouse. He loved to lay on the floor and watch cartoons. He loved and treasured his sisters. We gave him everything he wanted, took him everywhere he wanted, even if mom said no. That was what our life was about. His grandparents meant so much to him, and he was so lucky to have them. When his little brother Bud was born, he was so excited because he finally felt the playing field had been leveled with two boys and two girls.
Peacefulness emanated from Rob. When I was near him, I felt myself slow down. He loved the outdoors. He loved animals. He loved kids. Rob wanted nothing more than for everyone to just get along. As I look back now, I realize how his need for harmony was very instrumental in bringing his family members together. Our parents divorced when Rob was four. For several years following their divorce, my mom and dad didn't get along. When Rob was 13, he went to live with my dad, step mom and brother in Utah. He left for a summer visit and decided not to come home. It just about broke my mom's heart at the time. She later began to understand, and help me to understand, that Rob really needed to be with dad. He loved everyone. He never paid any attention to anyone else's agenda. Rob's decision to move to Utah was the beginning of a wonderful reconciliation that brought a new sense of peace and serenity to the entire family.
Rob was a hunk! He was a strikingly beautiful baby with tons of dark hair and sideburns that would have made Elvis proud. His eyes were mesmerizing. And as he grew, he became more and more handsome. But he hated to hear about it. He went through the usual phases: the attempt at long hair, a few pimples, some questionable wardrobe choices, but he was always adorable.
The little boy who had always been known as ‘Robby,' became ‘Rob' to his friends as he grew into a young man. However, he was always –and will always be- ‘Robby' to those of us who knew him as a child.
Someone wise once said, “Time on earth is not to be measured by the number of years in a life but more so by the life that was lived within those years.” Rob Kaas lived a wonderful life and he leaves behind a legacy of kindness and humility. Rob Kaas was a very Patient and Peaceful man. He was also Precious – a term often not used with a 28 year old man.
Rob was a very serious and dedicated individual. On the night that he passed away, the Sheriff gave Rob's wallet to his step-father, Ron, to take care of. When Ron got home, he recalls that the wallet was very difficult to open. Inside the wallet, Rob had taped a number of messages to himself. They read, “Your efforts will be worthwhile.” “You will soon gain something you have always wanted.” “Success is your fate.” “Relax!! Smart golf. Focus!! Smart golf. Tempo!” And finally, “Luck is coming your way.”
Some people find that last one ironic. But if you believe in Heaven, then you know that luck did come Rob's way.
The night the call came and we rushed to Rob's side was a terrible shock and has left an unbearable wound. However, it was striking and peaceful he looked. We believe that he passed away in much the same way that he lived… in peace. He was found with his dog and constant companion, Jake. It gives us some comfort to think that Jake was there by his side as he left this world for the next.
Rob was a beloved son and grandson; an adored brother, uncle, and cousin; and a true friend. He lived for a brief 28 years… too short for all of those he left behind. His life was defined so many great qualities, only a few of which are passion, patience, perseverance, humility, and selflessness. The stories he leaves us with will make as smile and laugh, cry, and wonder why.
The day of his funeral was an extraordinary celebration of Rob's life. There were countless gestures, memories, and images that spontaneously came together. Forty-six of his golf buddies wore white golf shirts and jeans in honor of Rob (That was his standard Friday golf attire.) Solemnly they filled the chapel and cried along with the rest of his family and friends. As Rob's casket was carried out of the chapel, these same friends stood in two rows and formed an arch with their golf clubs. Their reverence and admiration left an impression that will never be forgotten. At the close of the graveside service, Rob's mom and close family members released 28 green and white balloons: one for each year he lived; green and white for the jacket he had hoped to wear when he won the Masters someday. The balloons floated quietly, peacefully farther and farther away.