Robert Moore Woolfolk Jr.
November 11, 1923 – March 1, 2019
Robert (“Bob”) Moore Woolfolk, Jr., age 95, passed away peacefully on Friday, the 1st of March, 2019, at his home in Houston, TX. Bob was born on the 11th of November 1923, in New Orleans, Louisiana to Ruth Samson and Robert Moore Woolfolk, Sr. His birth fell within the tenth generation of a southern family with English roots. His childhood home was centrally located in New Orleans, which permitted him to walk to the A. J. Wilson grammar and Fortier high schools. Bob’s formative Christian years were spent at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans where, at 5 years of age, he served as the religion class monitor, a position given him by an understanding teacher who had discovered how to handle her most energetic student.
Bob was exceptional in all aspects of his endeavors. His talents were demonstrated across a range of scientific, athletic, and musical activities. The following interests competed for the spotlight in his life: chemistry, track, piano, dancing, and singing.
Bob was an accomplished athlete. His fascination with sports began early and lasted throughout his life - culminating in the award of over 150 medals in track and field as a Senior Olympian. His earliest competitions were in gymnastics: tumbling, parallel bars, and horizontal bars. During high school, Bob competed in track and field events as a pole vaulter, high hurdler, discus thrower, and sprinter. He also excelled in water sports, winning three state swimming and diving championships. His accomplishments in the athletic arena eventually led to the offer of an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University. After high school, Bob’s interest in sports shifted to power boat racing. He became one of New Orleans’ top rig drivers and was often total point leader in the Louisiana-Mississippi rivalry. He went on to serve as Vice Commodore of the New Orleans Power Boat Association.
When Bob wasn’t competing athletically, he delivered newspapers, pumped gas, or otherwise pursued gainful employment. Being independent was an important part of his formation. It was during this period that Bob developed a devotion to “Nanna,” his extraordinary grandmother. Her wisdom, honesty, and intellect provided strong moral guidance, and Bob dutifully noted the clear vision she brought to bear on questions of right and wrong.
When the time came for college, Bob was influenced by his early interest in the physical sciences and chose to study chemical engineering at Tulane. In making this choice, Bob declined scholarships he had been offered to study medicine at both LSU and the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Bob entered Tulane in 1940, but his education was interrupted when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In December 1941 Bob joined the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program. He subsequently left Tulane for Midshipman school at Columbia University, but not before setting a record in the National Navy Strength Test - for which the New Orleans’ Times Picayune dubbed him the “Tarzan of Tulane.” Upon graduation from Officer Candidate School, Bob volunteered for the Navy Scouts and Raiders, which was the precursor to the Seals. This program was ultimately cancelled so he switched to anti-submarine warfare training in San Diego. There he was assigned to an anti-submarine warship as the Naval Surface Warfare (SW) officer. Between 1942 and 1945 Bob served in the South Pacific, attaining the rank of Lt. J.G. After the war he was sent to New London, CT, where he participated in the development of submarine detection and destruction tactics. Later he joined the Naval Reserve and trained in Guantanamo, Cuba. Bob left the Naval Reserve in 1946, went back to Tulane to finish his B.E. in Chemical Engineering, and graduated in 1947.
After graduation, Bob joined Standard Oil of California in New Orleans as Division Engineer. For 10 years he served on the staff for exploratory drilling development and production. During this period, he designed and supervised the installation of advanced systems of gas separation, compression, and dehydration on offshore structures. He also helped develop the first off-shore gas-processing equipment to allow – without the need for flaring – for the transport of high-pressure natural gas from platforms to on-shore facilities. In 1957, at age 34, Texas Gas Corporation in Houston recruited him to be Chief Engineer and Manager of Manufacturing with responsibility for the company’s gas processing, refining, and petrochemical operations. As manager of the company’s operations, he expanded service and improved profits significantly. In 1963, Bob joined Allied Chemical Company. As the Venture Manager, he oversaw all aspects of the design and construction of a refinery in Costa Rica. Following the completion of this project in 1967, Bob left Allied to co-found two entities: Global Exploration and Refining Co. and Consolidated Oxidation Process Enterprise, Inc. Bob worked with these companies, as well as Ethane Technology, until his retirement in 1989.
Bob’s engineering career led to involvement with numerous civic and philanthropic endeavors. He spearheaded, in connection with his membership in the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, the construction of a 2,200 square foot Parent Education Center for the Houston School for Deaf Children (now the Center for Hearing and Speech). In bringing this project to life, Bob secured so many donations that the work was completed under budget. For this leadership he received the prestigious Hazelton Award from the Order and an Appreciation Award from the Houston School for Deaf Children. A second significant project involved the expansion of St. Francis Episcopal Day School in Piney Point Village, Houston. During his tenure as school board chairman, Bob marshaled the resources of the board and donors to obtain additional property and embark on the construction of the “New School” at St. Francis.
In 1985, Bob came out of retirement and founded National Healthcare Alliance, Inc. This venture grew to become one of the largest managed healthcare companies in Texas. In recognition of his achievements, the Houston Business Journal nominated Bob for an Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Bob and his wife, Betty, have made several contributions to Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio for the purpose of establishing a school of communication sciences and disorders. Similar contributions have been made to the University of Texas in Austin for the establishment of a research program focusing on children and adults with language disorders.
In addition to his interest in athletics, business, and philanthropy, Bob loved music and the performing arts. Being the son of a prominent New Orleans journalist and jazz musician, Bob developed an affinity for writing, piano playing, singing, and dancing. Upon returning home after work, he would often turn on the music to popular melodies or romantic ballads and sing along in full tenor voice. Bob’s dancing ability was, on the other hand, shaped not just by growing up exposed to the rhythms of New Orleans but also through his Navy training in Cuba. Regular visits to the Tropicana club while on leave in Havana enabled Bob to become an accomplished dancer of salsa, samba, cha-cha, merengue, rumba, and Argentine tango. Cubans who observed him dancing would say “He’s no gringo.” Later, as a member of numerous Houston dance societies, he easily became the dancing choice of many women at the parties. To his wife, however, he was clearly the only dance partner she favored.
Bob’s lifelong engagement with the arts is manifest in his first book, Little Slices of the Big Easy. Published in December 2015, it narrates many of the mischievous escapades he and his childhood friends carried out while their parents were enjoying the social “whirl” of the crescent city. This work did such a compelling job of shining light on the mysteries which shroud the Big Easy that the Historic New Orleans Collection - a museum dedicated to the study, research, publication, and preservation of the history and culture of New Orleans - selected Bob’s book for inclusion within its permanent collection.
Bob’s 95-year journey through life was exciting and challenging. At one Board meeting of his Company, NHA, the company auditor sought out Bob’s wife and said, “Bob is the most honorable man I have ever known.” He was a man of courage, integrity, and rectitude – one who would proudly stand up against anyone that bullied or intimidated others. This trait persisted throughout his life. His ideals were never compromised.
Bob was a Registered Professional Chemical Engineer, athlete, singer, dancer, and piano player – a true renaissance man. He was a member of the Forest Club in Houston, the Boston and Neptune Clubs, the New Orleans Country Club, and the Krewe of the Twelfth Night Revelers. He was also a member of the Folderol, Colony, and Terpsichore dance clubs in Houston.
Bob was preceded in death by his mother, Ruth Samson Woolfolk, father, Robert Moore Woolfolk, Sr., sister, Amelie Jane Woolfolk Cooper, and sister-in law Alicia Carrow Stirton (Andy). He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Carrow Woolfolk; sweet daughter, Amelie Robinson Woolfolk; niece Allison Heath; brother-in-law, Walter Carrow (Fran); by marriage nieces Sherry Kossick O’Hearn and Mindy Benefield; by marriage nephews Mark Stamey (Chrissie), Darrell Carrow, and Greg Carrow (Katie); grandnieces Kristen Kossick Swenson (Mike), Alicia Kossick, Melinda Rao (Jonathan), Jennifer Kisner (Troy), and Paige Carrow; grandnephews Robert Kossick (Tina), Mark Kossick (Leigh), Eric Stamey (Donna), Christopher Grinnan (Stephanie), Harris Stamey (Sarah), Elliot Stamey (Laura), Bailey Carrow, and Christian Carrow; and numerous great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews.
The family would like to express gratitude for the love and care provided by Pauline Tolliver, Ruki Adeleke, Elizabeth Cisneros, and Ivette Gamez. The family is additionally grateful for the 23 years of loyal service furnished by Camilo and Juana Torres. Last, Bob’s family is deeply grateful for Father Michael Grey's spiritual guidance; Drs. Albert Braden, John Seger, and Bruce Nelson's medical care; and Katharine Gordon's publishing expertise.
Those honored to serve as pallbearers will be Robert Kossick, Mark Kossick, Harris Stamey, Elliot Stamey, Eric Stamey, Greg Carrow, and Darrell Carrow.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from five o’clock in the afternoon until seven o’clock in the evening on Thursday, the 7th of March, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. The recitation of the Holy Rosary will commence at six o’clock followed by sharing of remembrances from family and friends.
A Mass of Christian Burial is to be celebrated at ten o’clock in the morning on Friday, the 8th of March, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road in Houston. Immediately following the Mass, all are invited to greet the family during a reception to be held in the adjacent Parish Life Center.
The Rite of Committal will follow the reception, via an escorted cortege, at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed toward Our Lady of the Lake University, C/O Office of Development for the Woolfolk School of Communication and Disorders, 411 SW 24th Street, San Antonio, TX 78207; or to the University of Texas at Austin, Office of Development, P.O. Box 7458, Austin, TX 78713.
Our Lady of the Lake University, C/O Office of Development for the Woolfolk School of Communication and Disorders
411 SW 24th Street, San Antonio, Texas 78207
University of Texas at Austin, Office of Development
P.O. Box 7458, Austin, Texas 78713
- Visitation Thursday, March 7, 2019
- Mass of Christian Burial Friday, March 8, 2019
- The Rite of Committal will follow the reception, via an escorted cortege, at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
Robert Moore Woolfolk Jr.
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Cindy Del Monte
March 7, 2019
So very sorry to hear of Bob's death. I fondly recall our work together at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary's Seminary.
May you find comfort and peace that only the Lord can provide.
God bless you.
Cindy Del Monte
March 6, 2019
Betty, I was so saddened to hear of Bob's passing and wanted you to know that my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. I know the two of you shared a special relationship, especially on the dance floor, and I know he will be greatly missed by many. May God grant you peace and comfort in the months ahead.
March 6, 2019
So sorry to hear the news about Bob. I have fond memories of him during my time living in Houston. Keeping you and Robin in my thoughts and prayers.
Laura Hansen Dean
March 6, 2019
I was so sorry to learn of your husband's passing. What an extraordinary life and extraordinary man and husband! I know that you will miss him terribly after so many years together. Please know that I am thinking of you with affection, admiration, and gratefulness.
Laura Hansen Dean
The University of Texas at Austin
Tina Liu Kossick
March 4, 2019
I am very sorry for your loss and that I couldn't make it to uncle Bob's service. Please accept my heartfelt sympathies on the loss of your loved one. Words can't express how saddened I am to hear of Bob's pass. I pray the love of God enfolds you during this difficult time and may your many memories of uncle Bob help to sustain you at this most difficult time. You are in my prayers during this difficult time. Thinking of you and sending love and hugs your way! Stay strong!
With much love,
Sister Mary Christine Morkovsky
March 4, 2019
Even though I met your husband only briefly, I will always remember his gentle graciousness. Of course, I can't think of George Washington now without remembering him.
May God comfort you, as only God can, in this time of such great loss.
With love and prayers,
Sister Mary Christine
March 4, 2019
My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. I know how hard
loosing your loved one can be. My best wishes are with you and yours.
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