July 2022 Newsletter

The People of the Park…

Bobby Spain

by Dale Dauten

Anyone who’s spent any time at The Resort knows that, on any given day, you are likely to meet someone interesting. The latest fascinating person we got to visit with was Bobby Spain, a member of the park’s maintenance staff, and a guy who looks like he might be a country-western singer but who turns out to have spent four years at the Hussian College of Art in Philadelphia and who had a children’s book published last year.

While he’s officially Robert Spain, he goes by Bobby, and he grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, raised by Gloria and Tom Phillips.

As a kid, Bobby discovered he had a gift for drawing, and by the time he finished high school, he decided he would be an artist — an illustrator, to be exact. His parents were supportive and that’s how he came to attend what was then the Hussian School of Art, now Hussian College, in Philly. And though he had a gift for illustration, the job market had other ideas and he ended up in a different kind of painting, doing paint and bodywork on cars.


Then, 20 years into that career, he felt the need for a change and that’s when he began to plan a move to Arizona. Why Arizona? “Something was just telling me to come out here,” he explained. “I just hopped on an Amtrak train and three days later I was here. I knew one person in Arizona but it was give-or-take if I’d ever find him.” It was also bad timing – late August – but when you get that feeling about something, that can be all the planning you get.

He was also ready for a change in career, so instead of working with cars, he took a job on the staff at an RV Park in Apache Junction. That would last 17 years. Along the way he was diagnosed with colon cancer and only after he came through it did his doctor confide that he “wasn’t supposed to make it.” Nevertheless, after losing his colon and a few other parts of internal equipment, he bounced back. Now, seven years later, the only effect is, as he put it, “That’s why I’m so skinny.”

It was nearly two years ago that Bobby decided it was time to leave the facility where he’d been working, explaining that “They were going to sell the company and they ran it into the ground,” and that’s when he came to The Resort.

And over the last few years, his two grandsons, Cooper and Dylan, inspired Bobby to do a storybook for them, with original illustrations. Then, he did another one, and that one became Little Pumpkin Shines, published last year by Many Seasons Press. (It’s available via the online stores at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Walmart.


We asked Bobby which were his favorite of the book’s illustrations and he picked the two shown below.


Bobby is now at work on his next kids’ book. We asked Bobby if he’d learned anything on the recent one that will change how he’s working now. For Little Pumpkin Shines, the illustrations were taken from works he did on canvas board using acrylic and watercolor, and these were then photographed and reproduced on the page. Next time, he explained, he’ll use illustration boards so the art can be digitized and the colors can be more perfectly reproduced. And, the next book won’t be seasonal like the last one: “I’ve learned that a seasonal book creates difficulties for stores.”

This new one, he confided, is called Skye Builds a Tree Fort. But it’s not so simple a construction project for the title character. Turns out Skye is an octopus and because there are no trees underwater, considerable ingenuity is called for. That’s also the creative challenge for Bobby as author and illustrator.

Speaking of challenges, we asked Bobby about his work at The Resort and he said, “All the people I work with are good people. I get along with everyone. And it’s really rewarding to get to work with the residents.”



Folks are starting to look ahead to next season. Here’s the latest…