Robert Frederick Gertenbach
December 9, 1944 – February 28, 2018
Robert ”Bob" Frederick Gertenbach left us too soon, after a hard fought battle against cancer. He passed away just after his 50th wedding anniversary to the love of his life, Kathryn ”Kathi” Lynn (Becker). Bob touched many people over his life, and in the weeks before his passing, family and friends came from near and far to say goodbye. Listening to the conversations, it was not unusual to hear he was my best friend, my favorite uncle, the best boss. Bob was born in Bridgeport, CT December 9, 1944 and was preceded in death by his daughter, Cynthia; son, Daniel; mother Jennie (Mair); father George Richard Gertenbach; and brother Doug McLaughlin. Bob is survived by his wife, Kathi; two sons, Rick and Tom; grandson, Derrick and his sister, Jean (Jack Sperling) and brother George (Pattie). Bob joined the US Air Force immediately after graduating from Masuk High School in Monroe, CT, and was assigned to McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando, FL. As the leader of his family, after his father died prematurely, Bob moved his family (mother, little sister and brother) to Orlando in 1963. While in the Air Force, Bob met his life-long friends, Bill LaMirande and Jerry Angley through Bill’s parents, Joe and Audrey, who “adopted Bob”. As Jerry put it, they were lucky that Bob met Kathi, Bill met Karen and Jerry met Pat, because as young men they had many good times and escapades together. Legend has it that one of the first times Bob saw Kathi, he turned to Jerry and said that is the girl he was going to marry. And so it transpired about three years later, when on February 17, 1968, Bob and Kathi got married in Pinecastle Methodist Church, and honeymooned in Panama City. After the USAF, Bob worked at Kennedy Space Center, and in 1975 joined the Martin Brower Company, where he worked for over 20 years, starting with the McDonald’s Division, and working his way to the Distribution Center Manager of the National Accounts Division in Orlando. In 1976, he and his family were transferred for two years to Chicago, IL. By the time Bob and Kathi, with two Florida-born toddlers in tow, moved to Chicago, they had both been in Florida for decades and the northern climate was a challenge. After retiring from Martin—Brower, Bob took on a new career — as a bus driver at Walt Disney World where he worked for about 10 years before retiring due to health reasons. Even as a bus driver he made an impression. During an emergency hospital stay after he retired, Bob was being seen by a heart specialist, who looked at him and asked if he ever drove a bus at Disney. She remembered riding a bus that he was driving. There are hundreds of funny and heartwarming stories to share about Bob. With his sense of humor, calm demeanor and generous heart, he made and stayed fast friends with everyone he met. As a result, Bob and Kathi’s “extended family” includes everyone from the farmer he worked for in high school in Connecticut to the children of the siblings of his in-laws, one of whom wrote to Bob, on hearing of his illness "I know we have joked that you have nine lives but that is just a huge indication that you have an important purpose. I guess we never really know what our purpose is but you’ve served an amazing purpose in my life.” Everyone who knew him probably can say something very similar. Bill and Jerry's children called him ”Uncle Bob”, as did almost any child that met him —- kids loved him. There are several Bob the yard guy stories. As the older brother, and to some extent, father figure for his brother, George, who is 10 years younger, Bob taught George a lot of things: how to wash and wax the car, how to dig a septic field, and how to mow and edge the lawn and weed under the citrus trees. Kathi recalls that when they bought their first home, Bob and Kathi shared the yard care, but in a short time, it was left to Kathi. However, when Bob retired, he started taking over some of the yard work, including edging along the sidewalk. Well, Bob started edging in front of his house, then one neighbor, then a little further until he edged the whole block. Bob, Jerry, and Bill had that "need for speed". One of Bob’s first cars was a 1967 Dodge RT 440 Magnum 4 speed factory car that did 150 mph. George is amazed how Bob always drug his little brother with him everywhere — fishing, space launches at KSC, car races. Albeit Bob would not always PAY for George to get into the races. Sometimes Bob, Jerry, and Bill would stuff George under firewood and sleeping bags in the trunk, and George would just hope they remembered he was in the trunk. His sister, Jean, two years younger, could tell a lot of stories. They and their cousins lived very close in Connecticut and were best of friends. One trait all who knew Bob could attest to, is that he did not like to get up early. One day,when Bob was in the USAF, Jean gave up trying to wake him up, so she soaked a towel in ice cold water, and threw it on him. She then ran like crazy out the front door. She knew he could not go after her out the door because he always slept in his underwear. When their grandson, Derrick was ten years old, Bob and Kathi took on the responsibility of raising him. Derrick has said on many occasions how "overwhelmingly" grateful he is that Bob and Kathi opened their home to him and taught him life—long lessons such as always treating people with kindness, love and respect. And at 22 years old, he is living those lessons every day. Memorial donations may be made to Orlando Health Foundation Cardiology, 3160 S. Gate Commerce Blvd.Suite 50, Orlando, FL 32806
- Visitation Saturday, March 3, 2018
- Funeral Service Saturday, March 3, 2018
- Committal Service Saturday, March 3, 2018
Robert Frederick Gertenbach
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March 3, 2018
Tom and family, I would like to offer my deepest condolences, from reading all these amazing stories I now know where Tom got his kindness and never ending willingness to help! I live in a home with myself daughter and grandson n can not list everything he does to help us here also taught my grandson to fish sounds like he's truly his father's son. God Bless you all!💔
David Becker, Jr.
March 2, 2018
I only had the opportunity to be near my Uncle Bob a few times.
Our talks were always warm and caring which made me feel close to him.
He always offered words of encouragement and was able to help see any situation in a more positive light.
I’ll miss his warm smile, gentle demeanor and kind disposition.
I pray The Lord will receive him with open arms into a far better place where loving and caring souls should be.
May he Rest In Peace knowing that his time spent on this earth was not in vain, for the lives that his life touched, were greatly benefited by his presence.
In loving memory, your nephew, Davey
March 2, 2018
May Heaven open up Her arms and welcome Bob back home. A joyful spirit, always with a smile, he will be missed by all that knew him. Gob bless.
David and Betsy Turner
March 1, 2018
Kathi and boys,
We just had to write and tell you how sorry we are!! You have no idea what the two of you meant to us when we transplanted ourselves in November 1982 from Ohio to Orlando so Dave could work with Bob. You included us in your family Christmas celebration that next month and always made us feel so welcome in your home. You and Bob are the one thing we hated to leave behind when we moved back up North and the only people we just had to visit whenever we were in Florida. In hindsight, I don't think Dave was ever as content with his job as he was when he worked with Bob. I don't know who wrote Bob's obit, but kudos to them...they nailed it!! We feel very fortunate to have been able to call Bob a friend. God Bless all those effected by his passing and it sounds like that is a lot of people!!
Love to all,
David and Betsy Turner
March 1, 2018
Though there are many great memories from our youth to our golden years, I believe my fondest memories are of the summers spent together at your parents cabin on Candlewood Lake in New Milford, CT. You will be missed.