Tribute to Bob Nanninga

Nina Hall
At the Sunset Poets gathering on Sunday Feb. 15th, I heard an announcement which both shocked and saddened me. It is with a deep sense of loss and a heavy heart that I announce to our readers the passing of Bob Nanninga on Valentine's Day at the age of 45. He died after a short bout with pneumonia.

Bob Nanninga affected me most with his unwavering commitment to the environment. As a fellow environmentalist, I never missed reading his heart-felt commentaries "From the Edge" in the Coast News. I deeply admired Bob's writing style, especially the way he pulled no punches in his attacks and was never apologetic for his views. Each time I read one of his columns, I could feel the depth of commitment he had to preserving the environment. Through his words, Bob exhibited a tremendous reverence and respect for nature, and always advocated its protection from destruction. He employed various techniques, being humorous at times, satirical at others, always with the goal of clearly getting his point across.

I also experienced Bob's support for the arts through his energetic and enthusiastic performances as emcee and sometimes poet at the La Paloma Theatre Poetry Slam, Rancho Buena Vista High School Poetry Slam, and Mira Costa College Poetry Slam. Bob also attempted to be a true uniter by hosting forums featuring Democrats, Independents, Republicans and Greens, where he pointedly encouraged them to discuss the issues where they agreed, rather than differed. He also received my enthuasiatic endorsement for his most recent run for Encinitas City Council. Bob's absence is deeply felt and he will be greatly missed.

The North County Times published an article honoring Bob:

ENCINITAS: Community mourns death of artist, activist, businessman
Bob Nanninga, 45, dies of pneumonia
By COLLEEN MENSCHING - Staff Writer | Sunday, February 15, 2009 9:55 PM PST

Encinitas artist, activist and businessman Bob Nanninga died of pneumonia Saturday at a La Jolla hospital. He was 45.

Nanninga, along with his partner, Keith Shillington, was co-owner of E Street Cafe in downtown Encinitas.

A writer and performer known as a passionate advocate for the arts in North County, Nanninga also threw his hat into the political ring, running three times for Encinitas City Council.

Although Nanninga never won an election, Councilwoman Teresa Barth said he remained an important figure in the council chambers.

"He was our conscience about a lot of things, particularly environmentally," Barth said. "We really are going to be a lesser community without him."

An outspoken advocate for local environmental issues, Nanninga founded Encinitas Environment Day in 2007 and served on the city's Invasive Species Subcommittee.

He was a three-time Encinitas Parks and Recreation commissioner.

Nanninga also served on the board of the directors of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and the 2nd Street Scene organizing committee and taught theater in the Encinitas School District.

Born in Vista, Nanninga moved to Leucadia in 1992.

Danny Salzhandler of the 101 Artists' Colony said he learned Nanninga was seriously ill when Nanninga bowed out of serving as master of ceremonies for the annual Poetry Slam on Feb 9.

Nanninga had hosted the event for a decade, Salzhandler said.

Last week, Salzhandler walked the streets of Encinitas with a get-well card for Nanninga. Hundreds of people signed it before it was delivered to Nanninga in the hospital, he said.

"It got there in time for him to see what everybody thought of him," Salzhandler said.

Nanninga "personified" the Slam event, Encinitas Poet Laureate Trish Dugger said.

She said she was one of the "slammers" at the first Poetry Slam ---- when Nanninga introduced her as "Trish the Dish."

The name stuck and a friendship grew, she said.

When Dugger turned 75, she had her birthday party at the E Street Cafe.

Dugger credits Nanninga with her own growth as a member of the arts c

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