Robert E. Weiss of Santa Ynez, California, a longtime attorney, died on May 15, 2018, from the complications of cancer at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. He was 89.
A child of The Great Depression, Weiss bootstrapped his way to build a successful real estate law practice and care for an extended family that included five children. He was an avid reader, amateur painter, poet and a life-long student of art, history, and politics. He had a hungry mind, and a remarkable ability to regale friends and family members by recounting things he learned or experienced dating back to his earliest days.
Born on Sept. 14, 1928 in Los Angeles, Robert Ernst Weiss was raised as an only child by his mother in the hills of La Cañada, sometimes shooting birds to help put food on the table. An intrepid entrepreneur, he struck out after Pasadena Junior College on various adventures to make his fortune, including an effort to import bat guano as agriculture fertilizer from caves in northern Mexico.
At age 18, he married his high school sweetheart Joan Talmage and they spent a year in Quito, Ecuador, exploring opportunities. Returning to Southern California, he became a homebuilder, constructing hundreds of houses in the San Fernando Valley during the post World War II building boom. During those years, he and Joan had three children Lorraine, Kenneth, and Nancy.
Focused on financial stability for his growing family, he sought a more secure profession insulated from the housing industry's boom and bust cycles. He set his sights on the practice of law, graduating from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles and passed the California Bar in 1959.
He joined Paul Egly and Howard Weiner as a partner in their West Covina firm, before setting up his own law firm, Robert E. Weiss, Inc. in 1973, working with Chris Klingerman and other attorneys. He was a noted expert in real estate law, teaching the subject at La Verne Law School. He married Paula Foxen Arcaris in 1974 and became the father of her two sons, James and Louis Robert. In the late 1980s, they moved from West Covina to the hills overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley. He spent his final decades living on a 30-acre ranch with Paula, his life's love, a succession of spirited hounds and herd of pet cows. He continued to practice law into his mid 80s, making the 2½-hour commute to his Covina office. Altogether, he practiced law for 56 consecutive years.
He is survived by Paula Weiss, daughters Lorraine J. Lewis and Nancy G. Weiss, and sons Kenneth R. Weiss, James P. Arcaris-Weiss, Louis Robert Weiss, grandson Samuel Weiss-Chytilo, and granddaughters, Clara Arcaris-Weiss, and Malia Weiss.
The family expresses deep gratitude to Drs. Robert Gottesman, Gregg Newman, Ronald Ungerer, David Fisk, Robert Wright, and Kyle Lemon for their extraordinarily care and friendship.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County or a charity of your choice. Contact Loper Funeral Chapel, (805) 688-6684, for details of a memorial planned for June 23 in Santa Ynez.