Robert A. Spiegel was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and upon graduation from high school, attended Grinnel College in Iowa, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business. Bob also volunteered for the U.S. Naval Reserve, which called him to active duty from 1952 to 1954. While serving as a reservist, he began a 32-year career in retail sales and management working as a floor walker for the Famous-Barr Company department stores, which would later become the May Company. He worked his way up from assistant, to manager, to the executive level, retiring in 1983 as a vice president with May Company after establishing the department store chain’s Palm Desert location.
Upon his retirement, Bob was convinced to get involved in leadership in Palm Desert by then City Councilman Roy Wilson. At Wilson’s urging, he volunteered to serve as the City’s citizen’s representative to the Joslyn Senior Center and accepted positions on the Civic Arts Committee and as the first chairman of the City’s Art in Public Places Committee.
When a vacancy opened on the City’s planning commission, Bob was asked if he would serve there and was appointed when he agreed. Bob's work there inspired his appointment to the City Council when Roy Wilson’s election to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors created a vacant council seat. He served ten months as an appointee and then successfully ran for election to the same seat in 1995. He has served on the Council ever since, winning reelection in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Bob's proudest accomplishments include the creation of Palm Desert’s after school program for students, his key roles in the creation of the City’s Facade Enhancement and Community Gardens programs, and his successful efforts to bring movie screenings and U.S. Navy Band concerts to Civic Center Park.
Bob has received numerous awards and citations including the College of the Desert Alumni Association Hall of Fame Award as “Outstanding Community Leader”; the Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Community Service Award (with Sharon Spiegel); and the Desert Sands Unified School District Hall of Fame Lighthouse Award.
He was the first president of the College of the Desert Foundation, and has served as a member of that body’s executive committee ever since. He also serves as the Committee Chair of the College of the Desert Citizens Oversight Committee.
Bob also serves on the board of Shelter From the Storm, a Palm Desert-based charity that helps victims of domestic violence. In 2008, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Palm Desert Rotary Club, which described him as “one of the most significant personalities in the history of Palm Desert.”
He is married to Sharon Spiegel. They have three children, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.