Robert Ray “Bob” Iser was born in Bemis, WV, on Aug. 17, 1938, and passed peacefully from this life Nov. 27, 2019, in Nashville, TN. He was the only child of Wilbert Lewis and Helen Batchelor Iser. Bob’s mother was blind, and he learned as an 8-year-old boy to play guitar by leading the blind, black bluesmen around on and near Elm Street in Dallas — today known as “Deep Ellum.” Bob’s jazz and blues renderings were known from Memphis to San Francisco and from New Orleans to Las Vegas. He recorded for Sun Records; led the first three-piece band on the West Coast, following the Big Band era; was dubbed the “White B.B. King”; and authored a chronicle of his wanderings, titled “The Guitar Man.”
He was predeceased by both parents and his bass player and best friend of nearly 70 years, Kenneth Belt. Bob’s first wife was Anne Willett Iser Bain (deceased). They bore three children, Laura Iser Cleveland, Kenneth Wilson Iser (Janice) and Michael Iser Bain. Grandchildren are Arryan Iser, Patricia Anne Iser McConley (David Jr.), Martin Wilson Iser (Jessica) and Jenny Dorrine Iser (Joseph Jenkins). Among them, Bob left 10 cherished great-grandchildren. Bob is survived by his second spouse, Barbara Joyce Iser Martin, with whom he parented daughter Gina Jen’Ai Iser (Kuan Gladney) and beloved granddaughter Brianna Jen’Ai Scruggs. Bob’s final marriage was to Wilma Faye “Fran” Iser (deceased). This time the fit was forever. He blessed the ground whereupon she walked. Her children, Deborah Peek and Daniel Ross, were loved, respected and appreciated by him. Very late in his life, God gifted Bob with the special friendship and support of Cornelius and Sandy Stevens, of Clarksville, TN. Better neighbors have never been known to any man. Services will be on a date to be determined in the spring/summer of 2020 in Mimbres. Memorial gifts may be made to Rio Mimbres Baptist Church, 29 Cactus Dr., Mimbres, NM 88049, telephone 575-536-9543. There, he found warmth and welcome by friends he admired and loved dearly. It was the only place under the sky or at sea that this troubadour ever called home.