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Demaine Funeral Home

OBITUARY

Robert James Wachter

September 28, 1929August 16, 2020
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ROBERT JAMES WACHTER of Alexandria VA passed on Aug 16th felled by the coronavirus. He is survived by his daughter, Wanda Valarie Wachter and her husband David Ray Sullivan. Bob was preceded in death by his beloved wife Jean Marie (Debold), his son Robb, his daughter, Deborah Jean, and his brother William J. Wachter.

Bob, who hails from Erie Pa, joined the U.S. Air Force in 1951 during the Korean War. In 1953, joined the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS). He held a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and a M.S in Aerospace Engineering from Oklahoma State University. In 24 years of service he initially flew KB-29 Air Refueling Tankers then B-50 bombers in the 509th, 393rd Bomb Squadron. In 1955 he flew in RB-47 Wing in Lockbourne plus Little Rock AFB in 1957. From Squadron Officer School, class 58A, he flew B-47 as an instructor pilot until 1961. His MSAE moved him to program R&D as in 1963 at Wright Patterson AFB for the KC-135 and SR-71. In 1968 from Pleiku Vietnam to the Pentagon he next managed aircraft R&D for T-38, F-5, A-37, T-37 programs. Retiring from U.S. Air Force Lt. Col in 1974 and from Northrop Corporation as Director at the Aircraft Division, in 1990. From 1991 to 2011 he consulted for RJ Wachter, Inc. until retirement at 81.

Over 46 years he directed BHS Chapter Chorus’s from Roswell NM, Little Rock AR, Ponca City OK, Middletown OH, to the Pleiku’s Highlands of Vietnam and for our local Arlington Chorus, Fairfax Jubil-Aires, Alexandria Harmonizers and the Harmony Heritage Singers. For over 35 consecutive years he coached quartets at Harmony College East while qualified by virtue of Harmony College Directors School. He taught voice production there for 11 years and was as a Certified Judge in Sound and Singing for 25 years. Since joining BHS 68 years ago Bob gladly coached and sang countlessly.

His life, rich in experience, blessed him with a 68-year marriage to his wife Jean, theirs a true love shared with all. Like everything in his life, he achieved it well. In the end he would only say, “I am a very fortunate man.”

Visitation: Demaine Funeral Home 520 S. Washington St., Old Town Alexandria, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sunday, September 13, a brief service at 1:00 PM. Funeral Mass: St Louis Catholic Church, 2907 Popkins Ln, Alexandria VA, 11:00 AM on Monday, September 14, livestreamed (Saintlouisparish.org). Burial Arlington National Cemetery TBA.

Condolences may be offered by visiting Demainefuneralhomes.com. Guests will be at intervals of 25, with masks required. In Lieu of flowers, the family request that donations be made in Bob’s memory to the Mount Vernon Chapter of BHS, c/o Lou Manfre, 7608 Elmore Ln., Bethesda, MD 20817

Services

21 July

Prayer Service

12:45 pm - 1:30 pm

Old Post Chapel

101 Lee Avenue
Arlington, VA 22211

21 July

Graveside Service

1:30 pm - 2:15 pm

Arlington National Cemetery

1 Memorial Ave
Arlington, VA 22211

21 July

Graveside Service

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Arlington National Cemetery

1 Memorial Ave
Arlington, VA 22211

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation

    Sunday, September 13, 2020

  • Brief Service

    Sunday, September 13, 2020

  • Mass of The Resurrection

    Monday, September 14, 2020

Memories

Robert James Wachter

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Joseph Crowley

October 21, 2020

Lacking any photos from the late '70s, when I participated in a BHS singing chorus called the Arlingtones, I can nonetheless conjure vivid and warm memories of the mountainous personality that was Bob Wachter, gentle giant, leader, dedicated believer in the value and worth of male harmony singing. I deeply admired the man and hated moving past that time of life when engaging in a worthy hobby that was altogether different from work kept me balanced and sane. I've thought about Bob and Jean over the years, their terrible loss of a daughter, and their commitment to one another. Lovely people. I hope to be at Arlington Cemetery whenever Bob will enter hallowed ground. He was and he remains absolutely unforgettable. Rest in Peace, Bob, with my sincere thanks for enriching my life.

Dorian Sollitto

September 17, 2020

Dear Wanda,

I just wanted you to know that although I was unable to attend in person, I was very glad that I watched the church service for your father online. It was such a peaceful and beautiful setting, and the speakers so sincere, that I felt more uplifted than I could have expected or hoped. And the priest’s homily about your father was perfect: it went from my head straight to my heart, which is the ideal trajectory that such well-said remembrances should travel.

I also want to tell you that I was every bit as moved when, later that day, I watched the film tribute on the Demaine website.

I remember how beautiful and elegant the film for your mother was, and your curating abilities here, too, were - yet again - simply extraordinary. The film for your father captured his brio and unfailing zest for life so brilliantly that I felt as though I’d not just met him (which, alas, I never did) but actually spent an afternoon in his company. I would have needed a nap once our afternoon was over, mind you, but good heavens: what a guy! And what an original!

I cannot tell you how very much I admire him and your mother, and how I wish I had actually known both. In a way, though, to know you is really an opportunity to know them. Both physically and in your essence, there is no mistake that you are their daughter. And, as well, an exquisite representative of two uncommonly interesting and clearly quite wonderful people.

With my sincere condolences and great affection,
Dorian

Meeghan Carter

September 14, 2020

Hello Wanda,
I am so very saddened to hear of your Fathers passing.
He was a amazing man , full of such life !
He was always so kind and generous when you and your Mother would host the Christmas parties!
I felt so welcomed and enjoyed their kindness and sharing all of their stories and amazing music.
My Father Col. Joesph Mclachlan and his wife Nadine ( my step mom) would invite and it was a highlight of my visit a at the holiday time.
My prayers and thoughts to
You and your family.
He was a amazing man and know you are thought of and he loved sharing all about your accomplishments as well!

Judith Bracken

September 12, 2020

Bob can only be described as always friendly and smiling. He and the Alexandria Harmonizers practiced weekly at Sherwood Regional Library where I was one of the staff. We perked up when Bob came in with the Harmonizers. Their wonderful harmony gave a lift to all. His obituary is so well written and full of positive facts. A grand man, he will be seriously missed.

Nadine McLachlan

September 12, 2020

Wanda, I am sorry for the loss of your father. I knew him as a kind, thoughtful person with many talents. My husband, Joe, was a consultant for Northrop and met Bob at that time. We would be together at Northrop functions as well as many Air Force Association functions. My husband also hosted a monthly business luncheon that Bob attended.
I have many fond memories of attending your parents' legendary Christmas parties in their beautiful home. For me, the highlight of the evening was when Bob and a few of his Harmonizers would sing. He was always an unassuming, gracious host. He will be missed.
Again, you have my deepest sympathies for your loss.
Nadine McLachlan

Vicki Racine

September 9, 2020

Dearest Wanda,
Having been your friend since the 70s I've had many occasions to meet your parents. Your Mom, Jean, was an extremely talented artist, but I most admired her because she spoke her mind. Your Dad, Bob, always congenial, smiling and happy. I shared one memory I have of him with you the other day. At your wedding to David he asked me, the maid of honor, if I had anything to say.... being extremely shy, I declined. He then asked the best man, David's brother—who was equally shy.... then he exclaimed... Well I have something to say and the barbershop quartet burst into song! It was a breathtaking moment. But I also remember how funny he was. Your Mom once told me I would do well to find someone like David. I was still fairly stupid at that time and jokingly replied... I like bad boys. Your dad must have overheard and came up to your mom and loudly and gruffly said... "Get over here woman." Hilarious.
He will be so missed by so many people. I only know a few of the stories about all the good things he has done but I do know that he was a great and loving father and an all-round good man.
All my love.

Lynne Schrag

August 20, 2020

My husband Larry sang with the group for many years. He considered Bob a friend and a fine director. I know the group will miss him.
Larry died 5 years ago but I wanted to let you know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. The Harmonizers sang at
Larry's memorial service.
Lynne Schrag

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Bob 3 years old.

FROM THE FAMILY

1937

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Bob 3 years old.

FROM THE FAMILY

1937

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Tri-hi dance 1945

FROM THE FAMILY

Graduation 1947 Erie Academy H.S.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Wonderful Older Brother Bill

FROM THE FAMILY