Friday, October 19, 2007

The Loss of Grandpa Bob

Since Wednesday, life as we know it has changed somewhat. In some ways it has been a good change, Grandpa Bob is no longer ill, hurting, in a state of dementia, etc. In other ways, it has been a bad change, Grandpa Bob is no longer with us as the man that we loved and cherished. But because of his illness, he hasn't been that man for a couple of years. We also have had to make (well, we didn't have to, we wanted to) a 12 hour trip south to the Fort Lauderdale area to help my mother-in-law clean out decades of "pack-rat-itis". I've known some pack-rats that I thought were hopeless, but I don't know if any of them (including myself) that are as bad as all that we have been going through today. I now would like to share the life of Grandpa Bob--as we knew him, not as the man that was so sick that he was no longer the fun, loving man that we've always known.

TSgt. (retired) Robert “Bob” Edward Louderback

After numerous years of illness, the city of Deerfield Beach, Florida lost a beloved son on Wednesday, October 17, 2007. Robert Edward Louderback was born July 9, 1932 to Ellen Jones and William Louderback in Haddonfield, New Jersey. In the 75 intervening years between his birth and his death Bob led a very full life that included two wives, 4 children, and 6 grandchildren.

Bob is survived by sons from his first wife Joan Colleluori, David Louderback, John and Lynn Louderback and their son, Chase. He is also survived by his second wife, Kathleen Louderback, daughter, Dr. Cheryl Roberts and husband Bob Wilbur, son, David and wife Shelly Roberts and their children, Zachery Roberts, Adam and his wife Beth Gibbs, Janyce Gibbs, Athena Roberts, and Tim Gibbs.

Throughout Bob’s life, he was an active patriot of the United States. He spent 22 years serving his country in the United States Air Force. His most memorable experience from his years in the military was serving under Dr. Edwin “Buzz” E. Aldrin (retired Col.), former astronaut for NASA and Commander of the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. Bob spoke very fondly of the years he spent with Dr. Aldrin. A fellow New Jersey native and their interest in their country and the space program made for a natural friendship to transpire.

Following his retirement from the Air Force in 1972, Bob spent the following 23 years in the construction industry in the Miami and Boca Raton areas of Florida. He helped construct many of the structures in those areas built within that 23 year span. His ability to “see” what could be made out of the scrap materials at a construction site was unique and genuine. He was a creative craftsman, building many of the pieces of furniture and cabinets throughout the years in his home. He was able to design and construct many useful “gadgets” around the house—not getting credit for many of the designs that have since been “discovered” by others with patents gained for them. The fact that he never had patents on any of his ideas did not stop him from continuing to putter around with this idea and that. Even as recently as two-years ago, he was still designing things for his son and grandson to build while they were living with him after Hurricane Katrina displaced them temporarily from their home.

His retired life was not one spent as a sedentary citizen just biding his time. He was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, the Elks Lodge and he was a 32nd degree Mason. In addition, he was very active in city politics. Although he was not an elected official, most all elected officials of Deerfield Beach knew Bob and knew his opinions on any issue. He was an avid letter writer and would always put in his “two-cents” worth on an issue, either for against it. He was also on a first name basis with many of the elected officials, never thinking twice about picking up the phone to inform them of issues that should be considered or those that should not be even brought up at city council meetings. In addition, he was a former Board Member for the Gates of Hillsboro. He spent 10 years serving in various positions on the board and continued to support the board and voicing his opinions even after his departure from the board.

Throughout his years of retirement, he and his wife, Kathleen could be seen at Dog Shows across the state of Florida. Bob and Kathy were very proud of the Doberman pincers that they raised and took to dog shows. Even at the end, they shared the love of two Dobies, Taz and Vegas that were always by his side. He no longer took his Dobies to the dog shows, as the stress and tension involved in the shows became too much, but his love for the dogs never failed.

Bob could be seen at least one day each weekend and often 2 or more days a week, on the water with a fishing pole in his hand. He loved to fish—whether it was salt water fishing, fresh water fishing, in local lakes or rivers, in the waters off the Gulf Coast or traveling abroad to fish. Often, the vacations for Bob and Kathy were planned around fishing areas or tournaments.

Although he was an avid sports fisherman, he was even more passionate about the conservation of wildlife and saving the Everglades. It was very common for Bob to be involved with fund raising efforts that went towards conservation efforts. He could also be heard educating others in and around the community as to the effects of the “raping of the Everglades”. As with local issues, he wrote many letters and encouraged others to voice their opinions to those with the authority to act to save the Everglades.

Bob was also an enthusiastic poker player. He often boasted that he could play at the level with the professional poker players. Many that have played against him would agree. Many of his vacations in the last several years were to Las Vegas where he could join in poker games with high stakes. He also spent many vacations at the casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he could combine his love of poker with the love of his grandchildren who live there. He didn’t spend all of his time at the casinos playing poker—he could also be found in local poker games and thoroughly enjoyed watching the professionals play on television once his illness made it more difficult for him to sit for long periods of time to play.

Although currently arrangements are incomplete, the proposed Celebration of Life Service will be held at the American Legion Post #162 on November 3, 2007, upon the return of the Legion’s Commander to oversee the service. There will not be a formal memorial or funeral; however, the Celebration of Bob’s Life will be open to friends and family. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate a donation to the charity of your choice instead. Sometime after the Celebration of Life, the closest friends and family will gather on the water in an intimate ceremony to spread Bob’s ashes; allowing him to share his final resting place among the waters and areas that he wanted to spend the most time in and to conserve.


Mr. Jay said...

I do so look forward to reading your blog as often as possible. Again, please know that you and your's are in my families thoughts

Dragon's Dolphin said...

I must say a big thank you to you then. I figured my blog was just something that someone felt that they had to read--and would just read those that were "short and sweet". But at this point, it doesn't seem to matter if anyone reads it or not--it makes a really good outlet!