G. Robert Leopold
July 11, 1925 – January 12, 2019
G. Robert (Bob) Leopold, 93 years old, passed away peacefully at home in Livingston, New Jersey. Bob, a true gentleman, could be described by many roles, including husband, father, grandfather, volunteer, veteran, Mayor, engineer, among others. Bob grew up in Weehawken and Union City, New Jersey. He had fond memories of his years attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he obtained both his bachelors and masters in electrical engineering, interrupted by his enlistment in the U.S. Navy to join the efforts to defeat the Nazis in World War II. On his first day of combat duty, he says, the Nazis promptly surrendered. Bob once hoped for a naval career but did not obtain acceptance to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. (Bob had said that he could not get the required nomination from his congressional representative or senator because he was Jewish.)
Bob’s early career took him back to sea. He joined Bell Laboratories and developed technologies for sub-sea communications cables. His photos of cod fish examining massive cables under the ocean and a model of the submersible camera system sat by his desk at Bell Labs and then in his home office long after he retired after more than 40 years of service. However, the most important aspect of his time at Bell Labs was his introduction to a young mathematician and his future wife, Iris.
Iris and Bob moved from an apartment in Elizabeth with their new baby Rebecca to settle in Livingston in 1959. Rebecca was joined a few years later by her siblings, Debby and Simon. Family was a priority, and it showed, especially in his unwavering support of his children. In addition to the children, Bob loved dogs. His first was Duchess, the greyhound of his childhood, followed by Merlin, Cleo, Droste, and Emma. He spent decades researching family genealogy and collecting stories. If you were lucky, you were a recipient of his annual newsletter about the family, aptly titled “The Procrastinator’s Times.” Absolutely central to his core was a commitment to social justice. He was a staunch opponent of the Vietnam War and a strong supporter of the civil rights movement. Certainly, there were many protests and marches under his belt. He was an early activist for Fair Housing initiatives. In the late 1960s, he was one of the founders of a group called “PYMWYMI” (Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is), which called upon local residents to donate funds to support the community of Newark after the 1967 riots. In 1974, he proudly hung up the American flag to mark the occasion of Nixon’s resignation. And, he was the kind of husband and father who thought it was a great idea to go on a family vacation to Washington, D.C. -- for a protest march.
Bob embraced his Livingston community with many years of dedicated service. Bob’s activities included organizations such as the American Jewish Congress, the ARC, the local Environmental Commission, and the Democratic Party. Bob served on the Livingston Town Council and as mayor during the 1980s. His work on the planning and zoning boards only concluded when he was unable to hear or walk well enough to participate in the meetings in his final years. In fact, in an October 5, 2017 editorial, the West Essex Tribune honored his years of service to the local community, highlighting the value to the town of this kind of public service, urging others to “Be a ‘Bob.’”
The community and family will remember Bob for many things, but perhaps most importantly will be his strength of character. He was an honest man of principle and integrity. Equally profound was his dry wit and sense of humor. He left an impression on all who had the opportunity to spend time with him. Bob served as a role model for his family, his colleagues, and his community. He will be missed. Bob leaves behind his wife Iris, children Rebecca and her partner Kol, Debby, and Simon and his wife Sari, and grandchildren Zev and Joshua. The family also would like to acknowledge the loving care he received these last months from Joseph Odueze.
To honor his memory, please consider a donation to Doctors Without Borders, Planned Parenthood or The Southern Poverty Law Center.
As his family and many friends well know, Bob was always ready with a response. In fact, he kept a list he called “Robert’s Rules: A Collection of Newly Created Ancient Sayings.” A few of Bob’s favorite quotes:
• “Everyone needs an editor”
• “There is a reason they call it compensation”
• “Don’t fly to Chicago unless you want to be in Chicago”
• “The dogs of war, once unleashed, do not come readily to heel.”
• “Everyone needs to make mistakes.”
- Funeral Service Monday, January 14, 2019
- Burial Monday, January 14, 2019
- Memorial Donations
G. Robert Leopold
January 13, 2019
In loving memory of our neighbor Bob Leopold-
We are next door neighbor of Leopolds for over 20 years. We consider ourselves blessed because of neighbors like Leopolds. To every guest that ever came to our house we mentioned that the best part our home is our neighbors. We will his kindness and sense of humor.
I hope and pray that someday we will be your neighbors again.
Rest In Peace Bob.
Mahesh and Beena