Rezak, longtime supporter of Contra Costa arts, dies at 83
By Lou Fancher
Throughout his career in corporate communications at Pacific Bell, journalist, publicist and arts consultant Robert R. Rezak maintained an avid enthusiasm for the arts. During his 45-year history of volunteerism, he had a significant impact on the East Bay Arts community. Rezak died at his home in Concord on Feb. 12. He was 83.
Rezak graduated in 1954 with a journalism degree from Stanford University and was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco News and the Stockton Record, where he met Patricia Turner, the woman who would become his wife.
"He liked to tell people that he found me under 'miscellaneous' in the files," said Pat Rezak, about meeting Bob when he was a reporter and she was the paper's librarian. "When we finally announced that we were engaged, no one had suspected our romance. We laughed because these were people who were supposed to have a nose for news."
Robert Rezak had a heart for the arts, and retiring from Pacific Bell after 35 years, he managed the company volunteer program, the Telephone Pioneers, with 90,000 participants in California and Nevada.
In Contra Costa County, Rezak's affiliations as a publicist included Diablo Symphony, Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Contra Costa Wind Symphony and others. He was a founding commissioner and chairman of the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, and he served on the boards of Diablo Light Opera Company, the Willows Theatre and Contra Costa Children's Chorus, among others.
Rezak was a trustee of the Diablo Regional Arts Association, involved in the city of Walnut Creek's Bedford Gallery Advisory Council and served for 22 years on the executive committee of the Concord Pavilion Associates, a volunteer support group for the outdoor concert venue.
The Pavilion's "Walk of Fame," recognizing artists who made a significant contribution to the amphitheater, was launched by Rezak.
"The first honoree was Dave Brubeck," Rezak said in an interview with this newspaper in 2014. "As a surprise to Brubeck, Concord Jazz and I arranged to have members of his quartet appear and perform. With Brubeck on piano, they played his famous 'Take Five.' "
Gary Schaub, former director of Cultural and Community Services in Walnut Creek, said Rezak worked "with grace and wit" to make sure the arts were on the community agenda.
"Bob Rezak was truly a positive and effective force for the arts in this county. He worked tirelessly," Schaub said. "He assisted so many different organizations. He not only spoke positively, but he used his professional promotional skills to help so many of our organizations."
Rezak was a San Francisco native, the youngest of seven children and, according to his daughter, Sharon Vanni, of Concord, the first in his family to attend college. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, three adult children, including a son and two daughters, and eight grandchildren.