Bob Lougheed was born to be Elvis.
The 52-year-old grew up listening to Presley’s records, went to his concerts and even won a high school talent contest while wearing a rented costume.
But other than an occasional appearance at a wedding or party, Lougheed had to keep Elvis in the closet as family and work took precedence.
Then, in 2007, Lougheed was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He had shown no symptoms and the diagnosis came by accident.
Pancreatic cancer has a very low survival rate, and after a complicated 10-hour surgery, Lougheed needed two years to recover.
His outlook on life changed, he left Claymont for Millsboro and a more laid-back life near the beach. “For 30 years I was trying to get down there and I had to get cancer to do it,” Lougheed says.
He got his first Elvis gig about three years ago when he performed at a local assisted living facility for a woman who was celebrating her 90th birthday—on Jan. 8, Elvis’ birthday.
With the help of his partner, Missy, and family and friends, Lougheed has since been making a living as an Elvis tribute artist. He recently completed a two-year run with a weekly show at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, but is still busy doing competitions, bookings in local venues and benefit concerts.
Lougheed has also become an advocate for the state’s Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. “I go to Washington and advocate for bills to be passed to (increase research),” he says. “The survival rate hasn’t changed in 40 years.”
Shirley Lee of Bethany Beach helps Lougheed with publicity and booking shows. Lee, 80, is a lifelong Elvis fan.
“The first time I saw Bob, I thought, This guy’s got the heart and soul of Elvis,” Lee says. “I’d never met a man who cares so much about people. He has that warmheartedness and that spirit.”
And talent: Lougheed has twice finished as runner-up in the Dewey Beach Elvis Festival and placed in the top 25 at the invitation-only King of the World competition. Lougheed traveled to Memphis last August for the finals.
“I was probably the only Elvis impersonator who had never been to Graceland,” he says. —D.O.