A Tribute: Robert G. McCubbin 1937-2020

Bob McCubbin was a charter subscriber to True West magazine at age 12. He joined forces with Rick Baish and Bob Boze Bell in 1999 to buy the magazine.
– All Images Courtesy True West Archive Unless Otherwise Noted –

Robert G. “Bob” McCubbin passed away from complications of dementia on April 9, 2020, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the age of 83.

The Torch is Passed

I first met Bob McCubbin in Santa Fe in 2007. I’ll never forget my wife, Lucinda, and I visiting his home and impressive collection of books and artifacts, and of course learning about his beloved teddy-bear Pomeranian. Afterwards, we had dinner at The Pink Adobe, where he insisted I try the Steak Dunigan, and then proceeded to tell us the legend of the building with its ghosts and rich history. The scariest part was handing over a six-figure check for his portion of True West ownership. Turns out it was the best investment of our lives, and I insisted on paying for dinner! A great man and a legend in his own right.

—Ken Amorosano
Publisher, True West
Cave Creek, Arizona

A Gracious and Charming Man

Knowing Bob McCubbin has been a great experience. I first met him when he, Bob Bell and Rick Baisch were in the process of buying True West. McCubbin and Rick were lifelong friends, and Bob and Bob, friends for many years.

—Carole Compton Glenn
Business Manager, True West
Cave Creek, Arizona

“Chick Bait”

Bob McCubbin was my friend over a period of nearly 30 years. Bob was not a big talker. He made himself understood without a lot of fancy speech. I asked him once why he didn’t use words of more than two syllables. He answered that growing up in Oklahoma, he had no need to learn longer words. Or many words, for that matter.

When Bob found himself single again [after his divorce] at a relatively advanced age, the first thing he did was buy himself the cutest little dog he could find. He took that dog with him everywhere. Bob named the dog “Bear” because it looked like a teddy bear. Privately, however, when I called it “Chick Bait,” he would just smile, and offer no objection.

—Rick Baish
El Paso, Texas

After his second divorce, Bob became a devout bachelor and utilized “Bear,” his Pomeranian. He met many women with this dog and was truly sorry when the dog died.

Memories of a Generous and Funny Man

One of my best memories of Bob came about two years ago when my wife and I drove to Santa Fe and picked him up to ride together to Bill Koch’s ranch in Colorado. We laughed and cried and enjoyed every mile of the trip as we shared memories of old times and old friends.  He knew then that his memory was failing and said to me, “Roy, I may forget all of my other friends, but I’ll never forget you!”

—Roy B. Young
Apache, Oklahoma

Bob McCubbin’s home in Santa Fe was the “Playboy Mansion-West” for Wild West fanatics. From historical memorabilia to books which lined the walls, the place was electric with the intensities of the subjects.

—Thom Ross
Santa Fe, New Mexico

He was one of the true giants in the Wild West history field. All of us owe a huge debt to Bob McCubbin.

—Jack DeMattos
North Attleboro, Massachusetts

Bob McCubbin was one of the finest men I have ever known.

—Linda Wommack
Contributing Editor, True West
Littleton, Colorado

I consider myself fortunate that I was able to visit Bob McCubbin several times. We spent much of the evening talking about his books, photographs and the other objects which seemingly filled every bit of space in his home. I think all that was missing was Gen. Nathan Dudley’s cannon from the Five Day Battle of Lincoln!

—Chuck Parsons
Luling, Texas

Bob McCubbin was passionate about our regional history and an individual with enough charisma for 10 good men.

—Lynda A. Sánchez
Contributing Editor, True West
Lincoln, New Mexico

As long as Bob McCubbin was sharing his passion with others of the same passion, he was happy!

—Shelly Buffalo Calf
Lincoln, New Mexico

Now it kind of comforts me to imagine that Bob has started a new collection. Not books or photographs, but the gunfighters themselves. First on his list, I figure, he’d go find Billy the Kid, just to see what he really looked like. And then he’d ask him the question that deviled him for years, “Billy, did you ever have your picture taken more than once?”

  —Deborah Hofstedt
Buffalo Bill Center of the West Trustee
Newhall, California

Bob McCubbin—shown in his home library outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the 1990s—was very proud of his library and loved to show off his collection. One visitor was stunned when he mentioned Geronimo and asked if McCubbin had any books on the Apache. Bob casually walked to a shelf and pulled down a book and it was Geronimo’s autobiography signed by GERONIMO!

The Tintype and the Knife

Bob and I became very good friends some years ago when he came to my home in Florida to get to know the big buyer of Western items. As part of his wonderful nature, he was extremely helpful to me. We spent a lot of time together, which was not enough. I learned a great deal from him. He also introduced me to a number of wonderful, new, very good friends. My life and my knowledge of the West have improved greatly because of him.

—Bill Koch
Palm Beach, Florida

Bob McCubbin first saw the Billy the Kid knife in Tombstone during one of the first Renegades meeting at the Tombstone Boarding House. This photo was taken out in the front yard where many historians had gathered to see the find. Later, Bob would help advise Bill Koch on the purchase of the original Billy the Kid tintype photo. Koch would buy the only known photo of the outlaw for $2.3 million at Brian Lebel’s 22nd Annual Old West Show & Auction on June 25, 2011.

The problem with asking what image or artifact Bob was most proud of is that it’s like asking, “Which one of your children do you love most?” Bob did not discriminate. He seemed to think of his entire collection—books, photos, manuscripts, artifacts—as a single thing: “The Collection.” From garters to guns, every piece was special and had a place in the whole. Even the Billy the Kid knife (which he was definitely proud of) was part of his overall vision. When Bob identified something he wanted or needed, he dug deeper than anyone to make sure he acquired all the knowledge and accouterments to go with it. He had a great sense of humor about things he wished he might own (like the Billy the Kid Upham tintype), but he was never jealous of anyone else’s collection. Always honest (occasionally to a fault) and generous, he was a historian who happened to be a collector, and he just wanted to share it all with the rest of us.

—Brian Lebel
Old West Events
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Related Posts

  • Our 18th Annual Celebration of the Absolute Best of the West!

  • bob mccubbin

    I started collecting because I liked to read and wanted to keep every book and not…

  • robert-james-blog

    It seems a bit strange that two of the baddest guys of the Old West…