Jim Robb was born in Ohio to his Scottish father Hugh Robb and his American mother Helen. With two older sisters, Bessie and Bonnie, the arrival of Jim completed their family. It didn’t take long for Hugh and Helen to find their way to a sweet bungalow, three blocks from the beach on Narragansett Avenue in Ocean Beach. This fortuitous move came to shape and define the remaining years of Jim’s life. The beach was his playground and anything ocean was his passion.
He was named Jim, but for most of his life he proudly carried the name “Mouse.” As he told the story, he was a kid on the beach hanging out with the lifeguards… he was small in stature but mighty in spirit and strength so he was named Mighty Mouse… it stuck, and Mouse, the Ocean Beach legend, was born.
Mouse attended Ocean Beach Elementary, Dana Junior High and graduated from Point Loma High School in 1951. Right out of high school, Mouse joined and served as a crewman in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Upon his return to Ocean Beach, he became a San Diego Lifeguard. His dream job!
His great smile, kind nature and friendly personality laid the groundwork for a lifetime of friendships. It was also on the beach that a pretty young gal caught his eye. Mouse and Carole Welshans were married in November 1957 and celebrated 63 years of water fun, family, friendships and travel together.
With a wife and children on the way, Mouse left life guarding and worked at Western Electric until his retirement. Mouse was an audacious water man, filled with the spirit of Aloha. He surfed, dove, kayaked, paddle boarded, wind surfed; he also loved snow skiing and golf.
Mouse competed in tandem surfing with Judy Dibble in the 1966 World Championship at Ocean Beach and, along with legendary surfer Linda Benson, was instrumental in bringing the Women’s World Long Board Championship to Ocean Beach in 2005.
In 1999, he competed in the U.S. Lifesaving Association National Lifeguard Championships in Cape May, N.J., earning a gold medal in the 800 meter paddleboard race – super veterans category. And he participated as a rowing partner of Rod Luscomb in the Dory Race.
During his long tenure as the “Ambassador of Ocean Beach,” Mouse formed the Sunset Cliffs Surfers, which was later organized as the Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, to promote the spirit of camaraderie, family, community and environmental preservation focusing on surfing and its heritage.
He was honored as the grand marshall of the OB Christmas Parade. He was celebrated by the City of San Diego with a “Jim (Mouse) Robb Day” declaration. Mouse was featured on the cover article in the Reader magazine in 2016.
He was a tireless community volunteer, and mentor to hundreds of youth teaching them surfing and water skills. In addition, Mouse was active in preserving the history of San Diego Lifeguards through his work for the San Diego Lifesaving Association and was instrumental in helping erect the bronze Lifeguard Memorial in Ocean Beach.
Many kind notes and letters have been received and were read to him during his illness: “Your upbeat, positive nature always made a surf session a better experience.” “Mouse treated every one as a valued human being.” “He embodied good vibes, mentoring many.” “The ultimate waterman whose humility and kindness touched so many lives.” “Your truth was in your daily example.”
“If you question how long you can enjoy the water, Mouse paddled up to me one morning and told me he had just gotten his new stand up board for his 80th birthday!” “No one personified OB like Mouse. We have lost a truly larger than life legend.” “I suggest that when the OB Pier is replaced they name the new one after him!”
Mouse is survived by his loving family, wife Carole, son Darren Robb and his wife Tiffany of Carlsbad, daughter Kathleen Robb of Lihue, Kauai. He was the beloved grandfather to James Richardson, Brittany and Casey Robb, Trevor Singer (Kauai) and great-grandfather to Elijah Singer.
He will be greatly missed by his adoring nieces Lori Castellanos, Aimee Welshans and Anna Welshans Sorensen, as well as his devoted in-laws, David and Nora Welshans, all from San Diego.
Mouse held great love and affection for his countless friends who enriched his life beyond measure. Aloha dear friend and mahalo for sharing your journey with us. In the tradition of surfers, there will be a paddle out this summer to commit Mouse back to the water. A Celebration of Life paddle out is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 17 at Luscomb Point at Sunset Cliffs.