Robert Doidge, 78, was doing what he loved Saturday morning with his grandson Ryan, 11, on the ice rink he built in Rainier, his wife Gladys Doidge told ABC News today.
“Every year he could hardly wait until it got cold enough,” Doidge said. “He would check it every day for three days before skating on it. He loved it.”
Doidge normally stayed inside while her husband and grandson, who has lived with his grandparents since he was 2, did outdoor activities like skating and throwing a Frisbee, but she decided to join the two outside to take some pictures, she said.
“He made a few laps and then he stopped and said, ‘I hadn’t heard it crack like this before,’” Doidge said. “And then it cracked and he went in.”
While Doidge called 911, Ryan grabbed a floating device for his grandpa to hold onto, Doidge said, but it was so cold that Robert Doidge couldn’t get a grip. Ryan then grabbed a hose and tried to get it to his grandfather, but after a while, “Robert said, ‘I’m done,’ and down he went,” Doidge said.
The father of three, grandfather of six and great-grandfather of three had a pulse and heartbeat when he was pulled from the pond by divers, Doidge said, but died on the way to the hospital.
Now, Doidge said she and her family are remembering the “happy” man who she married in 1958 and built an 18-acre property with, called the “Little Bit Ranch," in 1970; the “active” man who rode the Seattle to Portland bike ride for nine years and served in the Navy and Navy Reserve for a combined 20 years; and the “wonderful” man who still walked on homemade stilts, helped out in their barn and planted 100 to 1,000 trees a year.
Doidge said her grandson, who was his grandpa's "velcro vest buddy," will continue to help out around the house and "will miss his papa so much."
She added, "He will take on the legacy of his papa. Robert would be very pleased and I have no problems with that."