Robert Loose was a Coast Guard rescuer, Nashville music marketer and teen counselor before finding a passion for teaching that spanned decades and touched hundreds of Minnesota corrections trainees.

"He called them his kids. Didn't matter that they were 30, 40 or 50," said Jodi Jarchow, his "sweetie" of 17 years.

Loose, 63, director of training at the Rush City state prison, died Jan. 3 after suffering a heart attack. "He was awesome," said Rush City chaplain Marty Shanahan, who trained under Loose. While shepherding 50 cadets through academies each year, Loose didn't lecture.

"He'd watch each person intensely and say, 'OK, that person needs to learn this way, so I need to teach this way,'" Shanahan said. "He'd pay attention to how you dressed, how much coffee you drank, how you sat in your chair and how you engaged in PowerPoints or the tactile feel of handcuffs."

Charles Spaulding, a fast friend since age 12, was thrilled when Loose finally found his calling. As kids, they had chased girls in south Minneapolis, danced at Mr. Lucky's, swam in Lake Calhoun and worked as busboys at the Rainbow Cafe in Minneapolis. They went everywhere on Loose's little Honda scooter.

"We were big hits among a certain aspect of society," Spaulding said, chuckling. "We caused a lot of trouble. We had a lot of fun."

Loose joined the Coast Guard, ran search-and-rescue missions in Alaska and pulled "several dead bodies from the deep blue. He had some pretty tough times in Alaska," Spaulding said.

There, Loose's right forearm was cut to the bone in a work accident. Surgeries, physical therapy and stubbornness let him regain the use of the hand, despite military doctors' insistence that he'd never have anything more than a claw.

Loose became a Coast Guard supply manager in Houston and St. Louis before heading to Washington, D.C., where he ran the Special Olympics, lobbied Congress for the Coast Guard and earned a commendation for his work during President Jimmy Carter's inauguration. He left the Coast Guard in 1978.

Loose later earned a degree in psychology and studied at the Boulder Center of Accelerated Learning in Colorado. One of his favorite mantras became, "It's not how smart you are that counts. It's how you are smart."

Jarchow said she had heard about Loose long before they finally met in 1996.

Her husband at the time, Christian Jarchow, would come home from work at the Minnesota Department of Revenue talking about an educator named Bob Loose. The two met while working on a video training project. Christian was so impressed that he used Loose's teaching methods with his son and even recommended Loose for a permanent trainer's job at the Revenue Department.

But one of the bosses objected, calling Loose a "troublemaker."

"Yes. But he'll get something done," Jarchow recalled her late husband saying. "Bob throws a stick of dynamite into things, blows things up and then turns them around."

Loose got the training jobt. He later was hired at the state prison in Lino Lakes, where he created, equipped and ran a training resource center. He moved to Rush City five years ago.

After Christian Jarchow died in 1996, Jodi Jarchow met Loose when he came to pay his respects. Loose later helped her with paperwork and financial matters. More than a year later, Jarchow decided, "He needs a cook, and I need a sweetie. And we have been together ever since."

He championed Jarchow's singing career and played sound man when she performed at area Legion halls. "I will miss my darling," Jarchow said.

Loose is survived by Jarchow and her son, Calvin; by daughters Trisha Dale and Mariah Lovin, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and siblings Dick Loose, Jerry Loose and Sharon Hogstad. Services have been held.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725