Passed away on January 24, 2020 at the age of 94.
He died peacefully with his closest family at his bedside. He was born on March 16, 1925 and is survived by Jean, his wife of 56 years, his children Jenny and Bill, his daughter-in-law Jennifer, and granddaughter, Isabella.
He grew up during the Depression in Pennsylvania and perfected his gift for conversation in his parents’ general store. He struggled in school, only learning to read in the 4th grade, but compensated by becoming an extraordinary listener. He loved the outdoors and by becoming an Eagle Scout developed his naturalist skills. He excelled in football; baseball and swimming in his teenage years and after high school joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, serving as an armorer in a P-38 fighter plane squadron in Italy during World War II. After the war, he benefited from the GI Bill, earning a degree from the University of New Mexico, playing both varsity football and baseball there, and later received a Master Degree in Education from Ball State University in Indiana. Despite, or perhaps because of his early learning struggles, Bob had a natural gift for understanding kids, which prompted him to work with young people. After four years teaching and coaching in Ohio and Indiana, he served as the Director of Happy Hollow Children’s Camp in Indiana. With a spirit of adventure, he and Jean moved to Nome, Alaska, in 1966, where he took a position at William Beltz Boarding School. After three years in Nome, Bob and Jean moved to Fairbanks where he taught physical education at Ryan Junior High. In 1971, he moved to Anderson, Alaska to be Anderson School’s first Principal. The gymnasium was named after him when he retired in 1989. Bob and Jean continued living in Anderson until 2016, wintering in Arizona and staying active by traveling to almost every continent, hiking the Chilkoot Trail and the Grand Canyon. Bob harbored a deep love for Alaska years before he moved to the state. This love was probably first formed when his father, Bill, subscribed to the Alaska Sportsman Magazine (later to become Alaska Magazine) in 1935. His teenage friends went so far as to nickname him “Alaska Bob,” so constant was his chatter about the great U.S. territory at the edge of the continent. A gregarious person, he had unbounded curiosity in people and learned to play the ukulele for group sing-alongs in retirement. He was a gifted storyteller and had a way about him that could quickly disarm and charm total strangers. He enjoyed making friends, and in turn, he was a loyal and trusted friend to many. Bob loved his family and friends, but most of all, Bob loved living. May he rest in peace knowing he made the world a better place for being in it.
Bob’s family is planning a celebration of life this spring. Please contact the family (or his friends) for more information