Obituary for Robert Joehnck
January 6, 1941 – June 5, 2021
Robert was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on January 6, 1941, to Karl and Henrietta Joehnck. The family soon moved to Summit, New Jersey where they lived for 8 years. His father was then transferred to Ontario, California. The Joehncks made a home in nearby Sierra Madre where he was raised. He attended Ascension Parish Day School through the 8th grade, then Pasadena Middle School, and graduated from Pasadena High School in 1959.
Robert attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in Economics in 1963; then he continued his education at UC Berkeley’s law school, Boalt Hall. While there he met and married his wife of 57 years, Margaret Weatherhead.
After Robert took the bar exam, he and Margaret embarked on a 2 & 1/2 month trip through Europe before he began his first law office job in Los Angeles. He worked 9 years for the law firm, Richards, Watson & Hemmerling (now Richards, Watson and Gershon) which specialized in municipal law. While there, he developed the firm’s redevelopment practice and he became the city attorney of the City of Bell Gardens. His children, Alyssa and Martin were born during this time.
In 1975, Robert became the first attorney (and later general counsel) for the California Housing Agency, a state run low/moderate income housing bank. In 1984, he left the agency to pursue a private practice in Placer County which emphasized municipal law, environmental litigation, land use and real estate development law, and CEQA litigation. During this time, he was a contract city attorney for the City of Wheatland and the Town of Loomis.
In 1996, he resumed his career back in state service in the Department of Housing and Community Development underwriting multifamily project loans for various loan programs administered by HCD. In 1998, he moved to the Department of Conservation as the state’s chief mining attorney. He retired from that position in 2005.
From 1975 to the early 1990’s, the family lived in lovely Hidden Valley in what was then Loomis, but now a part of Granite Bay, in Placer County. Life was full of pets, including horses, swimming in the lake, soccer and football games at Del Oro High School, riding, watching horse shows, outings and get-togethers with neighbors and the members of the Loomis United Methodist Church. During this time Robert also found time to volunteer for Hospice.
The children went off to college, and Robert and Margaret moved to Lincoln, California. When daughter Alyssa finished college and PA school, she and new husband, Brian Wargala, moved back home so Brian could complete his undergraduate work. We’ve been living together ever since. When granddaughter Elaina was on the way, we needed a larger house, so moved to the Ranchos, near Lake of the Pines, in Nevada County. In 2012, the family moved into Lake of the Pines, thereby ending our long odyssey with horses, but joining a community around a lake.
Both Robert and Margaret officially retired in 2005. Bob ran for supervisor in 2008 and then worked briefly for the Sierra Fund helping to help shape their program to remediate the damage caused by abandoned mines in the state. He also ran a small non-profit, Project Jump Start, that placed and transported prisoners who had drug and alcohol problems from the county jail to various residential recovery programs all of which were located in counties other than Nevada. He’s been active in politics and church affairs having joined the Sierra Pines United Methodist Church.
He served on the board of Legal Services for Northern California from 2016 to 2020 and as a pro bono attorney in their Auburn Office from 2013-2020. This program serves low income and seniors on civil matters such as housing and public benefits.
The couple also enjoyed many travels, going again to Europe twice, to New England four times, to the Midwest, and many times to Mendocino, CA, and to both Oregon, and Ventura County where family lived.
Robert was an inveterate reader, a lover of history, particularly Roman, British and WWII, theology, and poetry. He kept up with current event through daily reading of the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times, as well as various online news suppliers. Lately, he had been using Ancestry.com to research his family history.
He was one to keep in touch with the many friends he has made over the years, family members as well. He was well known for his sense of humor—always wrote the “going away” skits for pastors or fellow workers who were moving on, and always had a joke to tell.
He died at home surrounded by his family on June 5, 2021, following a long struggle with various illnesses. He will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Karl and Henrietta Joehnck, his sister Karla Holland, and his son Martin Joehnck. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Joehnck, his daughter Alyssa Wargala and her husband Brian, and his granddaughter Elaina as well as other nieces and nephews and cousins.
The family is asking that donations in honor of Robert be directed to Legal Services of Northern California. Checks made out to LSNC with Robert’s name on the note line can be sent to LSNC, 515 12th Street, Sacto., CA 95814 or made online at lsnc.net/donate. Click on “Make it a gift” to type in Bob’s name.
A Celebration of Robert’s Life is planned for 11:00 am, July 24, at the Sierra Pines United Methodist Church, 22559 W. Hacienda Dr., Grass Valley, 95949. Reception will follow. Masks are required for the service. Contact his wife at <firstname.lastname@example.org> for further details.
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