Robert “Bob” Presley may not be a household name today, but in his 19 years in the State Senate he was a legend. During his years in the Senate he helped the state prosper in many ways. Presley died after a brief illness this past Sunday.
Before he was elected a State Senator, Bob Presley was a deputy sheriff who rose to the post of Undersheriff of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Bob Presley served the people of Riverside County as a member of the Sheriff’s Department for 24 years.
Senator Presley, a native of the Great State of Oklahoma, was also a decorated World War ll Army Veteran. He earned the Bronze Star while serving in combat during the Italy campaign where he served as a medic.
Bob Presley, who retired from the State Senate in 1994 , a self-described moderate democrat, was respected on both sides of the aisle and known as a great listener and a doer.
His body of work in the state Senate was vast but many believe his greatest legislative work included his on environmental protection and air quality, prison reforms and expansion, and work on domestic violence prevention.
Presley has been honored a number of times by county leaders. Both the county jail in Riverside and a nearby courthouse are named in his honor. He earned many more honors, which are too numerous to list here.
What made the Senator such an icon? He did the right things for the right reasons. He was not afraid to author policies that cleaned up our air, even when it was not popular at the time.
Sen. Presley spent his entire adult life in service to his nation, county, and state. Without a doubt, the late Senator placed service to all above self and leaves behind a legacy few Californians will ever equal or surpass.
Editors Note: Tom Freeman served as the Sheriff — Executive Officer for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He served under Sheriff’s Smith and Doyle. He currently serves as Chief of Public Policy for County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.