Submitted by Gail Fowler
Bob joined the Spencerport Volunteer Fire Department in 1974‚ shortly after we were married and made our home in Spencerport. He said he wanted to give back to the community. We didn’t live close enough for Bob to make the truck on most calls but he responded whenever he was home -even in the middle of the night for those dumpster fire ‘junk’ calls that nobody likes. When Bob became a 20 year life member in 1994‚ he could have cut down on the number of calls he made‚ but he didn’t. He felt that as a member he should be active.
Bob‚ not only went to fire calls‚ he also helped behind-the-scenes. He knew how important family support was to volunteer firemen and‚ therefore‚ how important it was for the fire department to support families. For many years‚ he organized the Christmas Party for the children of department members. He also worked on the annual Easter and Halloween Parties‚ including setting up the haunted house. Bob tried to be there when he was needed.
Friday‚ February 21‚ 1997 was an unusual day in Monroe County -the temperature rose to a pleasant 73 degrees! But overnight the temperature dropped drastically causing the winds to pick up. We were having a typical Saturday morning when‚ around 9 AM‚ the fire radio went off. The 70 mile per hour winds had blown out the windows of a store in the village. Bob and Tim‚ our 15 year old son‚ who was a fire explorer‚ jumped in the car and headed for the firehouse. As they headed for the firehouse a 40-foot tree was blown over by the wind and fell onto the length of the car‚ crushing it. Tim‚ sitting in the passenger seat‚ had ducked down and the airbag covered him‚ partially protecting him from the force. Bob‚ however‚ took the full blow and died instantly.
Bob was very outgoing. He enjoyed being a teacher. At 6’3”‚ he often towered over his sixth grade students. His mild manner and infectious smile‚ however‚ dispelled all fears. He brought fun into his math and science lessons. His classes checked out the number of each color of ‘M & M’ in a bag to learn fractions and probability. They hatched chicks. When the sixth grade studied the Middle Ages‚ Bob was willing to dress up as a court jester. Besides his teaching‚ he organized the school spelling bee‚ helped with kite making and flying‚ and even collected cross country skis so that he could take students skiing on the school campus after school. When he died‚ Bob was in his thirty-first year of teaching and many called him the ‘Gentle Giant’ of Byron-Bergen.
Bob‚ our two sons‚ Alan and Tim‚ and I enjoyed boating and camping. We spent vacations traveling around the states‚ visiting museums‚ famous places and national parks. Besides the fire department‚ we were active in scouting and church. Bob is our hero and we miss him every day.