Children’s story rings loyal for author who loses his home to a glow in Bali


People who attended San Clemente High School’s 1980 graduation might remember Bobby Priest. He was that free-spirited connoisseur who snuck a bottle of champagne into a rite and uncorked it vibrantly into a atmosphere shortly after tassels flew and grads embraced.

A design of him fluttering a dancing glass seemed on a front page of a San Clemente Daily Sun-Post.

Some 33 years later, after using an auto-racing team, operative as a approved financial planner, handling an investment organisation and traffic in general genuine estate, Priest did something that many entrepreneurs dream of though don’t brave do.

Rethinking his life after his mom died in 2013, he deserted a element universe as he had famous it.

He changed to Bali to live a easier life beside a beach. From his patio unaware Pantai Bingin, “Bingin Beach,” he would try to lift out an expatriate’s anticipation – make a vital with his guitar, essay song and low-pitched children’s books extolling a thesis that complacency is not about element possessions.

Priest, 55, was prepared to recover a initial in a designed array of “Lit’l Bobby” books this year when Apr 4 slapped him in a face, contrast either he unequivocally believed what he wrote.

A glow broken 4 buildings during Pantai Bingin, including his home and a grill and hotel of a Balinese family that had taken him in. Through a startle and fear of it, Priest came divided physically unscathed. No one was severely hurt.

He dismayed his friends on Facebook a subsequent day, quietly announcing what had happened, with photos of a glow and posts that didn’t cry despondency though exuded rebirth and renewal.

“Your opinion is amazing,” one print wrote. “So beholden for you.”

“Little did we realize,” Priest wrote, “that shortly I’d indeed be vital a accurate doctrine of my initial children’s book.”

It might have helped that Priest resolutely and successfully climbed adult onto his patio and entered a blazing building to rescue his mechanism containing his book files. A print taken from downhill on a beach shows him clawing his approach up.

“When we got a phone call that my place was on fire, we knew nobody was inside so my usually suspicion was my mechanism – over 3 years of work on my children’s books, a lifetime of work on all my strange song and all my journals,” Priest wrote.

He prayed “please, please, please” as he raced home on his motorbike.

“When we got to a stairs going down to a beach – and there’s about 160 stairs – a fume was so thick we had to hang my shirt around my face,” he wrote. “When we got there my heart sank. Where we lived and all inside was going adult in flames. we raced adult to my front doorway on a third turn though it was already on fire.”

From a second level, “I stood on a vituperation and attempted to stand onto my rug though a overhang on a roof done it too dangerous,” Priest wrote. “Everyone on a beach was yelling and screaming. we was in a panic. ‘How do we get up? How do we get in?’ we started punching roof tiles with my right palm while we was holding on with my left. Finally square by square it started breaking. we pennyless off a large adequate territory so we could squeeze reason with both hands, pitch out and lift myself adult and stand over onto my deck.”

Inside a house, that was filled with fume and flames, Priest managed to collect his computer, pass and a favorite guitar. From a patio he threw his trek and guitar into a tree next to mangle their fall. Stunned during a steer of a propane tank being engulfed in flames, Priest climbed down onto a overhang to pitch down onto a second floor.

Reaching a beach, he helped a dear friends he knows as Papa and Mama Juni collect what they could from their eight-bedroom hotel before it, too, was consumed by fire.

“We watched their grill bake where reduction than a month progressing we’d usually had a rite to magnify (some) recently finished construction,” Priest wrote.

The American ex-pat had rented a third and fourth floors of a building from Papa Juni and had done them his home, investing in improvements to a third and fourth floors. In a fire, he mislaid all he had solely for a computer, guitar and passport, he said.

Now Priest has started a page, soliciting donations that aren’t for him – they’re for his Indonesian “family” and for neighbors.

“I’m on a goal to assistance not usually my Indonesian mom and pappy reconstruct their provision though a adjacent families whose lives were also incited upside down by a fire,” Priest wrote. “I’ve motionless to launch my initial book “The Voice of a Moon – Happiness” with this debate and dedicate a increase to assistance lift income for these families.”

Priest pronounced he still has resources in a United States and could lapse to a business universe to get a burst start for a future, though he won’t. He aims to make do in Bali and pierce behind into his Pantai Bingin home within a year to continue producing Lit’l Bobby books and songs – books accompanied by low-pitched lullabies that kids can listen to as they read.

“It doesn’t even cranky my mind to go behind into what we used to do,” Priest pronounced by write from Bali. “That’s over. My life now is dedicated to a children’s books and my music. It’s a disproportion in truth that a lot of people don’t get. A lot of people here in Bali indeed get it.”

He pronounced his time in Bali has assured him he done a right decision. “I was perplexing to make a lot of income and live a American dream and it was some-more about a income and not about me and enjoying what we was doing,” he said. “It was always perplexing to get that fugitive carrot.”

On Facebook he wrote, “I adore Bali – a place where they can have roughly nothing, nonetheless clearly have all during a same time.”


On Mar 7, we perceived a summary out of a blue from a Bob Priest, revelation me that he was a man we had photographed uncorking a champagne bottle in a celebratory throng during 1980s San Clemente High School graduation, and he had a probable story for me.

He proceeded to describe how he had secluded a business universe in 2013, relocating to Bali for a easier life, creation song and essay children’s books. “I like it,” we told him. we asked him to get behind to me when his initial book was prepared during

Before he could do that, unfortunate cinema from Bali began appearing Apr 4 on Facebook, of his beachfront residence on fire. His outline of a stage and a rescue of his mechanism on Facebook was chilling. His selflessness, his care for his neighbors and his opinion out of a remains were moving to many on Facebook.

Today, as he moves forward, we asked how he ever smuggled a bottle of champagne into his graduation in 1980. As it turns out, he visited a site a night before. Discovering a lectern was already set up, with an empty, dark space underneath, he stashed a bottle there on a possibility no one would look.

No one did. “The rest is history,” Priest messaged me.

He pronounced his relatives had sensed he would do something during a graduation. “They done me guarantee no streaking!” he said. “That was renouned behind in a day.”

Someday, he said, he’d like to lapse to a stage and “go pronounce during graduation … as a successful children’s book author.”

— Fred Swegles

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