Robert Francis Mehan
May 1, 1933 – March 11, 2021
Robert Francis Mehan was born May 1, 1933 in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Agnella "Molly" Rybel Mehan (Murdock) (a waitress) and Finas E. Mehan (an Irish merchant marine out of Liverpool). Like many children born during the Great Depression, his parents were unable to care for him and he was raised by his maternal grandparents Joseph and Sophie Rybel, Polish-speaking immigrants who spoke no English in the home. Robert passed away of natural causes, in his home with his wife Nancy at his side, on March 11, 2021. Robert (Bob to most, Bobby to some despite his objections) trod a colorful and varied path in his life. He is survived by: ~ His first wife, Dolores Devoy, and their three children: Michael, Donna, and Debbie, who were raised solely by their mother;
~ His second wife, Jane Waters, and her three sons: Eric, Johnathan, and Jamie. He raised them as his own, and together he and Jane had Melinda (Mindy) Mehan (Mindy has it on good authority that she was in fact his favorite);
~ His third wife, Nancy (nee Story, nee Warnell), and her five children: Teresa (Christy), Caroline, Thomas, Aimee, and Marianne. This third marriage was his most joyous union and happily lasted the rest of his life. (Third time is the charm?) Robert’s professional life took him from East coast to West coast, with the common thread of helping those with mental health and drug/alcohol problems. He worked briefly in the mental ward of Bellevue Hospital in NYC, was a drug counselor at one of the first drug abuse rehabilitation facilities in Philadelphia, and retired from the county of San Diego, CA as a deputy probation officer and substance abuse counselor. After his retirement he spent a brief period as a park ranger, living near the observatory at Palomar Mountain State Park, prior to moving to the Kansas City, MO area, where he met Nancy (a librarian). They were married in 2003 after relocating to Eureka Springs AR to her childhood home. They moved back to the Kansas City area in 2019 to be close to Nancy’s children in his twilight years. Robert was known as kind and loving, although sometimes a stern man. He claimed to despise cats but the feeling was clearly not mutual – they ADORED him. He had zero tolerance for racism and misogyny, and would not hesitate to call BS when he encountered it. He had a deep and abiding lifelong love of jazz and blues music. His love of music had a great influence on the professional music careers of his children and their lives. He could not sing even one bit, but it never stopped him from enthusiastically doing so. And while he never played an instrument his record collection was a Master Class in and of itself, and was greatly influential on his family. He sometimes spoke of the highlights of his life: dancing with Rosemary Clooney at the age of 15, and (many years later) smoking hashish and talking music with Charlie “Bird” Parker in a NYC café. Deep down Robert was an actor and could be quite a ham. He had perfected his stories, his shtick, and his patter, and he loved nothing more than to make people laugh. His caregivers and healthcare providers late in his life grew very fond of him, noting that he was “salty” and they loved it. He was never afraid of looking silly. One of the most rewarding experiences of his life was, while living in Escondido California, performing as a member of the Escondido Playhouse Theater acting ensemble. During his tenure there he played The Grandfather in " Heidi "; The Unfortunate Tenant in "Arsenic and Old Lace" ; and the Emcee role in ''Moulin Rouge". Notably, his acting chops and his former career in law-enforcement gave him one of his proudest moments, as related by his daughter Mindy: “A young man he had mentored in law enforcement went on to a career in the FBI. After Dad had retired from both law-enforcement and acting, his friend contacted him and asked him to be part of a sting. He overcame his disgust to play a pervy old pedophile and helped bring down a child sex trafficking ring. How cool is that?!” Robert / Bobby / Dad / Uncle Knick-Knack (sorry, that’s from Nancy’s kids) – you were much loved and are greatly missed.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Robert Francis Mehan
April 2, 2021
Love you, Dad...Luckily, all that was needed to be said was said. You were great fun to grow up with, and thanks for all the insight and patience you taught me. Always a great lover of music, I felt your pride in my career and talent. Thanks for the hot jazz, and for taking me to Robinhood Dell East to see Sarah Vaughn sing with The Count Basie Band.
Like so many things, I didn't truly understand the enormity of an experience you gifted me until decades later. You are and ever shall be a indelible icon of my life. Rest easy, you old Irishman, I know in the hereafter you're PUNishing all those you see...xoxoxo