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ROBERT NEILLE STECK
April 4, 1944 - March 9, 2015
Born Victoria, Texas to Oscar
and Charlotte; brother Tom is
four years older.
ASHLEY MEGAN
August 30, 1974
SARAH BULLARD
married June 23, 1979
This guy pumps out the genius quotes and is really funny.
The best professor I've ever had. Hilarious and ultra intelligent as well.
Best class I've ever taken. Incredible teacher.
From Rate My Professor
Bob was an amazing combination of a deep thinker, kind and generous family
man, wielder of a very twisted sense of humor, and tough dude who gave the Big
C as fierce a battle as anyone. I loved him like a second brother, and am deeply
saddened by the prospect of life without him.
—William Bullard
VANESSA-SARAH VICKERY
September 13, 1985
NICOLE PAMELA ROBINSON
November 15, 1989
It's been hard for me to focus these past few days, thinking about Bob and what a
sterling man he was. It’s also kind of astonishing to think of the span of his
experiences and interests, coming up in a rough neighborhood in San Antonio (if
memory serves) with gangs and zip guns, serving in Vietnam, teaching philosophy
to college kids, and maintaining a breadth of interest and literacy in politics, foreign
affairs, society, and literature. And then there was the feat of maintaining his
politics and social ease at the pinnacle of corporate power, writing speeches for
the CEOs of the likes of Exxon Mobil.
But the qualities I most respect him for are his humor and empathy for others even
under the worst of his frightening medical and financial uncertainties -- and the
dread of knowing that they would become certainties. I can only hope to have
those qualities Bob showed so seemingly effortlessly -- he always had that style --
during those darkest days and years of his life. But I can count my life blessed to
have known him, and the example of his humor and strength of character.
–Rob MacDougall
Brother Bob, I never told you I loved you, probably because I’m a
guy. I love you Bob, for your good nature, your patience, your humor
and your great story telling. Although blind and black you treated me
like I had 20/20 vision and like I was royalty. Thanks for all you
exposed me to and what you help me see. Memories of you will be
etched in my mine forever. –George Brummel
Bob is the best friend a guy could ever have, and he lives on in our
hearts in so many ways. –Bill Belding
I met Bob when he taught philosophy at Colorado College just after his return from
Vietnam in the early 1970s. He taught a memorable course on leadership at least once
in the 1990s and returned after 2000 on several occasions to teach in the Philosophy
Department and in our interdisciplinary course, Freedom and Authority.
I wish I had a list of all the books Bob recommended I read. Oh, how much wiser I would
be if I had read them all! When he called he had almost always just finished a book or
was just then reading one he thought worthy of my attention. I know he only
recommended a tiny percentage of all those he consumed, and that means he read as
much as anyone I have known. No wonder he was the best customer of Politics and
Prose.
When Bob came to teach courses at Colorado College, he gave every ounce of his
energy and every moment of his time to the project. If he had a batch of student papers
to read, he would forego a sightseeing trip or even an invitation to dinner.
I still imagine Bob as I saw him several years ago, presiding over his communications
center in DC. On one screen he was keeping tabs on a live hearing from the House or
the Senate. Maybe his friend George Ellard was involved. He might have been
monitoring CNN on another. With computer, printer, and fax machine at his disposal, he
seemed to be an ultra- modern techie. Yet, inspired by books rather than machines, he
was likely seeking to inject philosophical insights and notions of corporate responsibility
into a speech he was composing for some CEO who had retained his services.
No one could confront health adversities with greater courage and greater determination
that Bob showed. I remember his joining us for a hike in the mountains of North Carolina
about four years ago, when he had already undergone serious medical treatment. With
an iron will he dragged himself up hills and across streams, defying the nasty messages
his body was obviously transmitting. He continued year after year to defy those
messages. Would that he could have managed to do so a bit longer. –Bob Lee
A man of many and unexpected talents. Years ago he sent an article to Sports Illustrated
describing the Colorado College faculty intramural ice hockey team, The Snails. He made it
clear that mind did not command body, despite our Sunday morning practices. Strategy, he
said, consisted in rushing the puck slowly and when the other team got it, shouting to the
goalie (me), “Watch out Susan, here they come!”
That article (Sports Illustrated forgot to publish it) played on the incongruous. It had the wry
and self-mocking tone Bob favored. Astonishingly–outrageously–well read, Bob talked easily
about anything, especially about politics and social justice, and about war. Serious matters,
always lightened with some unexpected, funny turns of phrase.
No surprise that Bob reveled in teaching. It gave him a forum to talk philosophy and current
events, and a chance to get students to think and write better than they thought possible. Just
as he did with his friends, he gave students his attention and kept up with them after a class
was over. Bob phoned us regularly, never talking for long. He’d catch us up, and suggest a
book he’d just read. I’ve always marveled at that human touch.
–Susan Ashley
I was one of the civilians on that 1998 Vietnam Challenge ride, which is where
I met Bob. I told my wife the other day that my nutshell description of Bob
would be "the Thinking Man's Vietnam War veteran." He was a wonderfully
well-rounded and big-hearted person.
–Tom Dunkel
We are all saddened by [Bob’s death]. He was such a wonderful man. I am
grateful that I saw him at the Marmons’ last winter when we talked about the
important world issues. It was so refreshing to listen to him, a real friend
though he had moved away. –Dorothy Fall
Bob was a great guy, great customer, great friend. –Mark Laframboise
It was a privilege to know [Bob] (I laugh to myself, imagining him being able to tell
me immediately the origin of the word itself). I remember marveling at his wealth
of knowledge. He was an intellectual, a philosopher, and a passionate advocate for
what he believed in. Sitting with Bob made me want to be better at what I did, to
go deeper, broader, bigger. But he was also genuine and clearly wanted to be
involved in any way he could. I encouraged him to become involved with our
hospice and, not long afterward, he spearheaded our first veteran-to-veteran
volunteer program. He brought so much to our veteran patients, perhaps the
greatest of all a sense of connection to a caring, articulate man who was not afraid
to take another human being's hand and stare death in the face together. He
shared so many gifts in his time on Earth and I feel lucky and honored to have
spent the time I did knowing him. In many ways, Bob was the face of that mission
[to provide end of life care to veterans] though his larger-than-life presence
distracted us from his own illness. As a tribute to him, we would like to dedicate
our new flag pole to him this spring. We had been planning this on the Monday he
died, but with the expectation he would be there.
—Chelsea Shenker (Good Shepherd Community Care)
Good Shepherd Community Care (hospice) where Bob spearheaded the first veteran-
to-veteran volunteer program.
I have so very enjoyed the many discussions and bike rides with Bob over the
years. His intellect, warmth and strength of character made for some wonderful
moments, which I truly cherish. I will for always remember talking between
breaths about current affairs, as we climbed our version of Alpe d'Huez in 1st
gear on our bikes in D.C. As we reached the summit, we shook our fists in
defiance and some relief. I still smile as I think of this precious moment, which so
personified Bob's resilience, motivation, humour and formidable knowledge.
Bob was a true friend, a unique individual, who will be really missed.
–Jamie Williamson
I am so sad to hear the news. Your father ranks as one of my favorite customers
in the many years I have been here at P&P. I shall miss him dearly.
–Ron Tucker
Bob was such a lovely man. I haven’t seen him for a long time and was not aware that
he struggled with cancer. What a marvelous man he was. I am so sorry I can’t be with
you all to honor him at his funeral but I will be there in spirit.
Bless him for his beautiful spirit.
–Suzanne Lecht
I knew this day was coming, but, to be honest, I've been in denial about it ever
since I learned the cancer had returned.
Wittgenstein said, rather stoically, that death isn't an event in life, but it is very
much so in the lives of others—and your dad leaves a very big hole in our lives
indeed.
—Rodger Morrow
To those who never experienced an early Sunday morning bike ride with Bob, I
can only tell you it has always been one of my favorite cycling experiences. Henry
& I always wondered how he had already digested the NY Times. The professor
held us spellbound for miles and saved me $5.
He was a fine and true gentleman.
—Jack Brady
I’d like to think that I could claim him as my friend too. He was such a special,
wonderful person. I loved his warmth, smarts, passion and kind heart. He was
easy and interesting to talk to. And always seem leave me feeling energized and
excited about something. He was thoughtful and kind. He drove a tandem bike
all the way from D.C. to my wedding in Great Barrington, Mass. My husband and I
pedaled off into the night on it at the end of the festivities. What an extraordinary
person. I feel very lucky to have known him and will remember him always.
–Jesse Haines
I knew, admired, and profoundly felt the recent loss of our compatriot, Bob Steck.
And living as I do in DC, home of the national Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, I took a
moment this afternoon to act in our community’s behalf. I did not ask permission
(Bob would approve, methinks). And I hope no offense is taken. My act was done
with the deepest of affection and respect.
Bringing Bob’s obituary to the Memorial, I read the full text aloud to that profoundly sad
listing of names. Bob was killed by that war as much as those whose names are listed
there and whom we remember and respect. And his spirit is surely with those who gave
the most, and for whom he worked so very hard for so many years. Post-reading, I put
the letter in an envelope. Weeping, I carefully placed it in a space in the wall. Hopefully
it will join the remembrances that are now being saved.
–Steve Selden
The Nats had a player named Termel Sledge. I thought the name was so bad that he
needed moral support so I appointed myself as the first president of the Fan Club.
One of my initial duties was to come up with a jingle. I told Bob to think one up and,
as jingles go, it should rhyme so people would find it catchy and join in with us at the
games. He called me minutes later and, being encouraged by the rhyming potential
in his first line, he went on:
“Termel, Termel, he’s our man/If he can’t do it/Then…well, we’ll just have to find
someone else.”
[on the Vietnam Challenge] Steck would have to have a book in his hands. Some
said he did the ride while reading a book on 16th Century Vietnamese philosophers.
He was turned down by the trip leaders when he wanted to give tutorials each night
to the rest of us on what he had read during the day.
What an intellectually curious, giving, humble, loving, funny, human being and good
friend. One can truly have only but two or three such friends over each ten year
period of one’s life. I was honored to have him in this past decade of mine.
—Henry Gallagher
I first met Bob in 1998 on the Vietnam Challenge Bike Ride where,
he famously rode a tandem bike with his dear friend George
Brummell. Yesterday, George and I spoke lovingly and at length
about Bob and we shed laughter and more more than a tear! Adam
Singer of Kartequinn Films called and the three of us shared a 3-
way call of fond memories and celebration of Bob's wonderful spirit.
Just two weeks ago, Bob and I'd planned to meet and have dinner
with author Christian Appy and, no surprise, Bob had already read
through 3/4 of Chris's book before I'd read the first
page! Unfortunately, Bob called me that day and said he couldn't
make it because "he was temporarily inconvenienced by terminal
Cancer!" His courage and spirit knew no limits and I will never
forget him.—Wayne Smith
I am very, very sorry to hear about the death of my friend, Bob. He and I worked
together often and I admired his dry wit and native intelligence. One of the best
students of philosophy that I have ever met. I admired his courage and I valued our
friendship. –Mark Perry
What a sorrowful happening. [Bob] was a wonderful man, smart, lively, always
interested and informed, and very brave. The world was a better place when he was
alive. –Barbara Meade
What a loss to a thoughtful world is the loss of Bob. His insights and ability to
communicate with wit and grace were wonderful to behold. He brought a depth and a
sense of foundation to many important topics, from family to fortune to public policy. –
John Bell
I only met Bob about 2 years ago after he had been struggling with life-threatening illness for some
time. He did not tell me about his own struggles, however, and didn’t really know what he was
dealing with until a few months ago. During all of my interactions with Bob, he was consistently
focused on his and his fellow human beings’ struggle with mortality. He talked about the problems
our difficulty accepting that caused and was always on alert to ways that he could help others in
that struggle.
It was Bob’s firm belief that human fulfillment lie somewhere in that struggle. It was always ideas
with Bob, but his heart was as great as his mind because those ideas were always about ways to
help others. Not only did Bob found our veteran volunteer program, he was also instrumental in
creating what has been become the most consistent component of our Hospice Institute – our
regular community discussions about death and dying. Bob eagerly encouraged us to host “Death
Cafés” and was instrumental in getting them started while demonstrating a complete understanding
of why we felt we needed to give these discussions a different name and a slightly different focus.
He saw the good in others, in those of who worked with him and in the many veterans he visited
toward the end of their lives. For me, Bob was one of those rare souls who can both challenge and
comfort simultaneously. I will miss him deeply.
–Tim Boon (Good Shepherd Community Care)
Bob Steck Memorial Service Presentation
Bob Steck Memorial Service Presentation

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Bob Steck Memorial Service Presentation

  • 1. ROBERT NEILLE STECK April 4, 1944 - March 9, 2015
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  • 4. Born Victoria, Texas to Oscar and Charlotte; brother Tom is four years older.
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  • 13. This guy pumps out the genius quotes and is really funny. The best professor I've ever had. Hilarious and ultra intelligent as well. Best class I've ever taken. Incredible teacher. From Rate My Professor Bob was an amazing combination of a deep thinker, kind and generous family man, wielder of a very twisted sense of humor, and tough dude who gave the Big C as fierce a battle as anyone. I loved him like a second brother, and am deeply saddened by the prospect of life without him. —William Bullard
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  • 19. It's been hard for me to focus these past few days, thinking about Bob and what a sterling man he was. It’s also kind of astonishing to think of the span of his experiences and interests, coming up in a rough neighborhood in San Antonio (if memory serves) with gangs and zip guns, serving in Vietnam, teaching philosophy to college kids, and maintaining a breadth of interest and literacy in politics, foreign affairs, society, and literature. And then there was the feat of maintaining his politics and social ease at the pinnacle of corporate power, writing speeches for the CEOs of the likes of Exxon Mobil. But the qualities I most respect him for are his humor and empathy for others even under the worst of his frightening medical and financial uncertainties -- and the dread of knowing that they would become certainties. I can only hope to have those qualities Bob showed so seemingly effortlessly -- he always had that style -- during those darkest days and years of his life. But I can count my life blessed to have known him, and the example of his humor and strength of character. –Rob MacDougall
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  • 24. Brother Bob, I never told you I loved you, probably because I’m a guy. I love you Bob, for your good nature, your patience, your humor and your great story telling. Although blind and black you treated me like I had 20/20 vision and like I was royalty. Thanks for all you exposed me to and what you help me see. Memories of you will be etched in my mine forever. –George Brummel Bob is the best friend a guy could ever have, and he lives on in our hearts in so many ways. –Bill Belding
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  • 28. I met Bob when he taught philosophy at Colorado College just after his return from Vietnam in the early 1970s. He taught a memorable course on leadership at least once in the 1990s and returned after 2000 on several occasions to teach in the Philosophy Department and in our interdisciplinary course, Freedom and Authority. I wish I had a list of all the books Bob recommended I read. Oh, how much wiser I would be if I had read them all! When he called he had almost always just finished a book or was just then reading one he thought worthy of my attention. I know he only recommended a tiny percentage of all those he consumed, and that means he read as much as anyone I have known. No wonder he was the best customer of Politics and Prose. When Bob came to teach courses at Colorado College, he gave every ounce of his energy and every moment of his time to the project. If he had a batch of student papers to read, he would forego a sightseeing trip or even an invitation to dinner.
  • 29. I still imagine Bob as I saw him several years ago, presiding over his communications center in DC. On one screen he was keeping tabs on a live hearing from the House or the Senate. Maybe his friend George Ellard was involved. He might have been monitoring CNN on another. With computer, printer, and fax machine at his disposal, he seemed to be an ultra- modern techie. Yet, inspired by books rather than machines, he was likely seeking to inject philosophical insights and notions of corporate responsibility into a speech he was composing for some CEO who had retained his services. No one could confront health adversities with greater courage and greater determination that Bob showed. I remember his joining us for a hike in the mountains of North Carolina about four years ago, when he had already undergone serious medical treatment. With an iron will he dragged himself up hills and across streams, defying the nasty messages his body was obviously transmitting. He continued year after year to defy those messages. Would that he could have managed to do so a bit longer. –Bob Lee
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  • 32. A man of many and unexpected talents. Years ago he sent an article to Sports Illustrated describing the Colorado College faculty intramural ice hockey team, The Snails. He made it clear that mind did not command body, despite our Sunday morning practices. Strategy, he said, consisted in rushing the puck slowly and when the other team got it, shouting to the goalie (me), “Watch out Susan, here they come!” That article (Sports Illustrated forgot to publish it) played on the incongruous. It had the wry and self-mocking tone Bob favored. Astonishingly–outrageously–well read, Bob talked easily about anything, especially about politics and social justice, and about war. Serious matters, always lightened with some unexpected, funny turns of phrase. No surprise that Bob reveled in teaching. It gave him a forum to talk philosophy and current events, and a chance to get students to think and write better than they thought possible. Just as he did with his friends, he gave students his attention and kept up with them after a class was over. Bob phoned us regularly, never talking for long. He’d catch us up, and suggest a book he’d just read. I’ve always marveled at that human touch. –Susan Ashley
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  • 36. I was one of the civilians on that 1998 Vietnam Challenge ride, which is where I met Bob. I told my wife the other day that my nutshell description of Bob would be "the Thinking Man's Vietnam War veteran." He was a wonderfully well-rounded and big-hearted person. –Tom Dunkel We are all saddened by [Bob’s death]. He was such a wonderful man. I am grateful that I saw him at the Marmons’ last winter when we talked about the important world issues. It was so refreshing to listen to him, a real friend though he had moved away. –Dorothy Fall Bob was a great guy, great customer, great friend. –Mark Laframboise
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  • 43. It was a privilege to know [Bob] (I laugh to myself, imagining him being able to tell me immediately the origin of the word itself). I remember marveling at his wealth of knowledge. He was an intellectual, a philosopher, and a passionate advocate for what he believed in. Sitting with Bob made me want to be better at what I did, to go deeper, broader, bigger. But he was also genuine and clearly wanted to be involved in any way he could. I encouraged him to become involved with our hospice and, not long afterward, he spearheaded our first veteran-to-veteran volunteer program. He brought so much to our veteran patients, perhaps the greatest of all a sense of connection to a caring, articulate man who was not afraid to take another human being's hand and stare death in the face together. He shared so many gifts in his time on Earth and I feel lucky and honored to have spent the time I did knowing him. In many ways, Bob was the face of that mission [to provide end of life care to veterans] though his larger-than-life presence distracted us from his own illness. As a tribute to him, we would like to dedicate our new flag pole to him this spring. We had been planning this on the Monday he died, but with the expectation he would be there. —Chelsea Shenker (Good Shepherd Community Care)
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  • 45. Good Shepherd Community Care (hospice) where Bob spearheaded the first veteran- to-veteran volunteer program.
  • 46. I have so very enjoyed the many discussions and bike rides with Bob over the years. His intellect, warmth and strength of character made for some wonderful moments, which I truly cherish. I will for always remember talking between breaths about current affairs, as we climbed our version of Alpe d'Huez in 1st gear on our bikes in D.C. As we reached the summit, we shook our fists in defiance and some relief. I still smile as I think of this precious moment, which so personified Bob's resilience, motivation, humour and formidable knowledge. Bob was a true friend, a unique individual, who will be really missed. –Jamie Williamson I am so sad to hear the news. Your father ranks as one of my favorite customers in the many years I have been here at P&P. I shall miss him dearly. –Ron Tucker
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  • 51. Bob was such a lovely man. I haven’t seen him for a long time and was not aware that he struggled with cancer. What a marvelous man he was. I am so sorry I can’t be with you all to honor him at his funeral but I will be there in spirit. Bless him for his beautiful spirit. –Suzanne Lecht I knew this day was coming, but, to be honest, I've been in denial about it ever since I learned the cancer had returned. Wittgenstein said, rather stoically, that death isn't an event in life, but it is very much so in the lives of others—and your dad leaves a very big hole in our lives indeed. —Rodger Morrow
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  • 54. To those who never experienced an early Sunday morning bike ride with Bob, I can only tell you it has always been one of my favorite cycling experiences. Henry & I always wondered how he had already digested the NY Times. The professor held us spellbound for miles and saved me $5. He was a fine and true gentleman. —Jack Brady I’d like to think that I could claim him as my friend too. He was such a special, wonderful person. I loved his warmth, smarts, passion and kind heart. He was easy and interesting to talk to. And always seem leave me feeling energized and excited about something. He was thoughtful and kind. He drove a tandem bike all the way from D.C. to my wedding in Great Barrington, Mass. My husband and I pedaled off into the night on it at the end of the festivities. What an extraordinary person. I feel very lucky to have known him and will remember him always. –Jesse Haines
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  • 57. I knew, admired, and profoundly felt the recent loss of our compatriot, Bob Steck. And living as I do in DC, home of the national Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, I took a moment this afternoon to act in our community’s behalf. I did not ask permission (Bob would approve, methinks). And I hope no offense is taken. My act was done with the deepest of affection and respect. Bringing Bob’s obituary to the Memorial, I read the full text aloud to that profoundly sad listing of names. Bob was killed by that war as much as those whose names are listed there and whom we remember and respect. And his spirit is surely with those who gave the most, and for whom he worked so very hard for so many years. Post-reading, I put the letter in an envelope. Weeping, I carefully placed it in a space in the wall. Hopefully it will join the remembrances that are now being saved. –Steve Selden
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  • 61. The Nats had a player named Termel Sledge. I thought the name was so bad that he needed moral support so I appointed myself as the first president of the Fan Club. One of my initial duties was to come up with a jingle. I told Bob to think one up and, as jingles go, it should rhyme so people would find it catchy and join in with us at the games. He called me minutes later and, being encouraged by the rhyming potential in his first line, he went on: “Termel, Termel, he’s our man/If he can’t do it/Then…well, we’ll just have to find someone else.” [on the Vietnam Challenge] Steck would have to have a book in his hands. Some said he did the ride while reading a book on 16th Century Vietnamese philosophers. He was turned down by the trip leaders when he wanted to give tutorials each night to the rest of us on what he had read during the day. What an intellectually curious, giving, humble, loving, funny, human being and good friend. One can truly have only but two or three such friends over each ten year period of one’s life. I was honored to have him in this past decade of mine. —Henry Gallagher
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  • 64. I first met Bob in 1998 on the Vietnam Challenge Bike Ride where, he famously rode a tandem bike with his dear friend George Brummell. Yesterday, George and I spoke lovingly and at length about Bob and we shed laughter and more more than a tear! Adam Singer of Kartequinn Films called and the three of us shared a 3- way call of fond memories and celebration of Bob's wonderful spirit. Just two weeks ago, Bob and I'd planned to meet and have dinner with author Christian Appy and, no surprise, Bob had already read through 3/4 of Chris's book before I'd read the first page! Unfortunately, Bob called me that day and said he couldn't make it because "he was temporarily inconvenienced by terminal Cancer!" His courage and spirit knew no limits and I will never forget him.—Wayne Smith
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  • 67. I am very, very sorry to hear about the death of my friend, Bob. He and I worked together often and I admired his dry wit and native intelligence. One of the best students of philosophy that I have ever met. I admired his courage and I valued our friendship. –Mark Perry What a sorrowful happening. [Bob] was a wonderful man, smart, lively, always interested and informed, and very brave. The world was a better place when he was alive. –Barbara Meade What a loss to a thoughtful world is the loss of Bob. His insights and ability to communicate with wit and grace were wonderful to behold. He brought a depth and a sense of foundation to many important topics, from family to fortune to public policy. – John Bell
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  • 70. I only met Bob about 2 years ago after he had been struggling with life-threatening illness for some time. He did not tell me about his own struggles, however, and didn’t really know what he was dealing with until a few months ago. During all of my interactions with Bob, he was consistently focused on his and his fellow human beings’ struggle with mortality. He talked about the problems our difficulty accepting that caused and was always on alert to ways that he could help others in that struggle. It was Bob’s firm belief that human fulfillment lie somewhere in that struggle. It was always ideas with Bob, but his heart was as great as his mind because those ideas were always about ways to help others. Not only did Bob found our veteran volunteer program, he was also instrumental in creating what has been become the most consistent component of our Hospice Institute – our regular community discussions about death and dying. Bob eagerly encouraged us to host “Death Cafés” and was instrumental in getting them started while demonstrating a complete understanding of why we felt we needed to give these discussions a different name and a slightly different focus. He saw the good in others, in those of who worked with him and in the many veterans he visited toward the end of their lives. For me, Bob was one of those rare souls who can both challenge and comfort simultaneously. I will miss him deeply. –Tim Boon (Good Shepherd Community Care)