Bob Hare — Obituary

by Frank Holmes


The passing of Bob Hare on Monday, December 26, 2011 at the age of 80 was painful news for all who knew him. He died of natural causes. He is survived by his wife Karen and daughter Holly. It is particularly sad that Boxing Day was a day set aside by him for having old friends over to celebrate the holidays. Many of us that attended were previous employees and associates, Earl Newman, Bruce Houston, and me and my wife Harriette. We spent the day reminiscing and recalling great memories of our past days at The Insomniac in Hermosa Beach, California.

Bob started this business in 1958 with two partners, his first wife Juanita, and Jim Kruger. Jim later moved on and Bob became the driving force behind the coffee machine. This was a time when European Coffee Houses were a new thing on the American scene. Writers, poets and artists of the Beat Generations were attracted to this hip café. These art influences were supported by his expansion of the café into the empty supermarket next door enabling the first outdoor café and giant book store and art gallery. He referred to this as "America's First Supermarket of Culture."

He brought contemporary literature, music, and art to Hermosa Beach. There was plenty of music across the street with jazz at the Light House, a Latin Club, a Dixie Land Band at The Hermosa Inn, and few Rock clubs on Pier Ave. The Insomniac filled the gap with Folk Music, Steel Drum Bands and Gospel Music. Some of the folk singers were Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Dave Van Ronk, Jack Elliot, Carson and Van Dyke Parks, Richard and Jim with Steve Young, Long Gone Miles with Willy Chambers, The Chambers Brothers, Mel Carter, and Lord Buckley. He employed numerous folk quartets, and many solo singers such as Julie Meredith, Linda Ronstadt, Stan Wilson, all over a period of four years.

I was lucky enough to work for Bob as his coffee maker. To this day I feel a debt of gratitude to this man who had helped me get by with the support of steady work that I needed to get through four years of art school. I developed a strong appreciation for the arts and music as a result of working for Bob Hare at the Insomniac. He was a true inspiration to us all, and will not be forgotten. I am lucky to have been part of his energetic life. He was a true go getter fueled by "Tiger's Milk" and tea.

Everyone around him felt the support he had for people, especially poets, artists, and musicians. He was good to so many. There was openness to the man. He would give anyone a chance to exhibit their talent in the arena. He sold many of my paintings with no commission. I was hired, fired and re-hired several times during those four years. The man never held a grudge. He never tired of giving to others. He leaves a big empty space. The poet is at rest.


December 31, 2011