Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Taxi Obituary: Dennis Eugene Roberts---COVID19 & The Loss Of A Seattle Taxi Industry Icon

Eulogy of sorts

All of us at Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) are still processing the loss of Dennis Roberts on April 09, 2020 to the novel coronavirus COVID19 pandemic.  One could accurately say Dennis was both a fixture and representative of what is best at Yellow Cab and what we are daily attempting to do: transporting passengers in a cheerful, efficient manner.  Dennis was also typical of a certain type of cabbie, his position comparable to the French Foreign Legion, where once recruited, your past identity forgotten, your old self completely absorbed into your new position as a taxi soldier sent off to the cultural battlefields.  I say this because currently, though knowing Dennis over twenty years, his past for the most part remains a mystery, at least to me.  But it is the known Dennis we are both mourning and celebrating, our friend now taking "bells" somewhere in the celestial heights, delivering singing angels to their lofty choir stalls perched next to Jehovah's Heavenly Gates.  Dennis liked to sing, last year on the train station regaling me with the old Johnny Horton C&W hit, "North to Alaska" but why that particular song I can't remember, Dennis having good reasons for everything he did.

Dennis Roberts   May/18/1946-April/09/2020

As alluded to, I don't know where he was born and what previous occupations he might have plied but as long as I knew him I believed the rumor that he participated in late 1950s horror films though in what role I never bothered to ask.  I am told he also made an appearance in the "Northern Exposure" television series, but again, how and why I don't know.  But what I can tell you for sure was Dennis's yearly fund raising efforts for Seattle's Children Hospital, covering his cab with "donation ballon tags" signed with the donor's name, each year all the local cabbies providing funds for his favorite charity.

Dennis also dressed as Santa Claus, and during Seattle's annual "Sea Fair Days" took on the guise of a seafaring pirate.  Though in reality, Dennis was the last cabbie requiring a costume, his normal, everyday appearance unforgettable: a squat, somewhat rotund body topped by a perennially smiling face festooned by white sideburns and almost waist length greying hair.  Along with baggy trousers and an equally comfortable blue jacket, Dennis could never be mistaken for anyone other than Dennis. Yes, our departed friend was unique, some might say eccentric but if there was a sincerer cabbie, I don't know him, Dennis the personification of 1960s idealism made manifest.

So Dennis, a fond farewell but where ever you might be, keep on singing, be it "North to Heaven" or some other such song.  So long and goodbye.


  1. thank you Joe. yer love of a colleague shines through. and may likely assist him in resting in peace.

  2. Thank you Joe, I had an unforgettable cab ride with him in 1996, a foot of snow, city shut down, a slow mo 360 on i5, Very fun. Rip

  3. Nice Blog!!! keep Posting!!!

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