Robert R. McCartney Col. USAF (ret.)

December 5, 1932February 14, 2018

The book on an amazing life of giving and service closed with the unexpected death of Col. Robert Russell (Bob) McCartney, USAF (Ret.) at the age of 85.

Bob’s story began in Pittsburgh, PA, as the son of Robert Taylor McCartney and Elizabeth Clare (McCabe) McCartney. The family, including younger sisters Barbara Lou and Betty Jane, moved to Wellesley Hills, MA in 1945. A member of the ROTC program at Dartmouth College, Bob graduated in 1954 and began a distinguished and decorated 28+ year career in the US Air Force.

Bob’s love story began on a blind date while stationed at Dover AFB in Delaware when he met Nancy Rachel Sterling. They married in 1957 and raised three children (and three Irish Setters).

Bob’s military career included two separate assignments as a pilot in Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the war. He also served on a missile crew, as Senior Controller and on the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff at Offutt, AFB, and as Deputy Wing Commander of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB.

After retiring in 1983, Bob and Nancy’s story continued in the Washington, DC. area in the civilian workforce. He retired for a second time and they moved back to Nebraska to enjoy “The Good Life”.

Never one to sit back and relax, throughout his life, Bob volunteered countless hours for church, for the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America (where he was an adult leader and was honored with the prestigious “Silver Beaver”) and the Civil Air Patrol where he was a former commander.

A strong believer in the power of humor, Bob never failed to strike up lengthy conversations with whomever he thought could use some cheering up. He truly never met a stranger.

Constant characters in Bob’s story include his wife Nancy and their children, Heather Kelsey and her husband Neil of Farmington CT, Heidi McCartney of Colorado Springs CO, and Rob McCartney and his wife Sherry (Hausman) of Papillion NE. Bob has grandchildren: Brendan, Steven, and Timothy Kelsey, Taylor (McCartney) Depue and her husband Adam, Grayson McCartney and Hope McCartney and great-grandson Sterling Depue. Bob is also survived by his sister Betty Jane and her husband Edwin Larsen, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Bill and Susannah Sterling, nieces Karen, Amy, Debby and nephew Ted and their families. He was predeceased by his sister Barbara Lou. Adding even more flavor to Bob’s life, his six “grand-dogs” and “great-grand-dogs”!

Anyone who knew Bob or has been touched by his generosity is welcome to a celebration of his life Wednesday February 21st at 7pm at Kahler-Dolce Mortuary, 441 N Washington Street in Papillion, NE. Bob’s burial, with full military honors, will be held Thursday at 1 pm. at the Omaha National Cemetery.

Facts and dates tell only part of Bob’s story. The rest is contained in his passion for teaching and mentoring youth, pride in his country, steadfast love for his family and friends, and his never-faltering need to be of service to his fellow man.

For that reason, in lieu of flowers, Bob would prefer memorial contributions to the Civil Air Patrol, the Mid America Council of the Boy Scouts of America, or any charity of your choice.

As you write your own life story, one of the highest compliments you could pay Bob, would be to give unselfishly of your time and talents, improving the lives of anyone who needs a helping hand.


  • Visitation Wednesday, February 21, 2018
  • Celebration of Life Wednesday, February 21, 2018
  • Graveside Services Thursday, February 22, 2018

Robert R. McCartney Col. USAF (ret.)

have a memory or condolence to add?

Don Ives

August 9, 2018

So very sorry that Jeannie and I lost touch with Bob and Nancy and hope he and his family know that we held him in high regard. I met Bob in a parking lot at a canceled missile school by Denver, CO. He and I were transferred to Plattsburgh AFB. Bob and Nancy and Jeannie and I lived a few houses apart there and got together often. They and their children’s pictures pop up on our screen saver occasionally and bring back fond memories. I remember skiing with Bob and bowling with Nancy.

betty larsen

February 25, 2018

My brother emanated physical and inner strength as well as a sensitiveness to everyone's needs. A hugh love of family friends and country was evident in every aspect of his life. As a young man his dream of flying airplanes was realized in his 28 years in the Air Force. His special sense of humor erupted on a regular basis. Nancy his dear wife of 60 years can also display this quirky humor. She was a wonderful wife for him. He was my big brother and I will miss him.
Betty Jane

Marlene Spindler

February 22, 2018

Don and I met Bob and Nancy in 1960 at SOS in Ala. Since then we have made many wonderful memories together. When I think of those times, the words that come to mind are -- Fun -- Happiness -- Adventurous --True Friendship and Love. We will miss Bob very much.

Amy Box

February 22, 2018

A memory that I will always hold close in my heart was when My Uncle Bob, Aunt Nancy and Heather attended my wedding in Florida . As a special gift they rented a limousine with which Uncle Bob would transport my husband, JD, and I to the reception. He even went so far as to serve us a glass of Dom Perignon after the service . No question about it, he was a class act for sure. He also toasted us at the reception and ended it with an Irish Blessing. I have always loved this and think of him when I hear it. So until we meet again, I would like to say the same to you:
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm on your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Keith Keller

February 21, 2018

My condolences to the McCartney family. I met Bob when my oldest son started Cub Scouts 8+ years ago. I enjoyed working with Bob in Cub Scouts and I was always impressed by his willingness to help in any way he could no matter what. He set a wonderful example of service to others that we should all strive to follow.

Kim Copple

February 21, 2018

Col McCartney was a wonderful person and his dedication to the Civil Air Patrol and Boy Scouts was wonderful.He was a great mentor to my son in Civil Air Patrol and supported him in his many Boy Scout activities as well. His reference letters for my son helped him accomplish many things and become the wonderful young man he is today. Col McCartney mentored hundreds if not thousands of boys and girls. He was a wonderful listener, story teller and pushed them to be better. He will be missed. Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family.

February 19, 2018

To our hearty comrade who has fallen from the skies, and was gently caught by God's own hand to be with him on High.
To dwell among the soaring clouds he's known so well before. From victory roll to tail chase, at heaven's very door.
Take care my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.

Deb Hintz

February 19, 2018

My heart and love to the family and Rachel. Anyone who was blessed with the friendship and love of Bob will feel his loss. RIP my friend and mentor. We will watch your 6. Shoot the sky and stars.

Jill Krca

February 19, 2018

Mrs. McCartney, Heidi, Heather, Rob and families - The Krca family sends our condolences for your loss. Our thoughts are with you all at this difficult time. Share your memories of your Dad as he will live forever in your hearts. His service to our country is truly appreciated. God bless.
Rita, Jill, Jenny, and Joni

Darrell Nelson

February 18, 2018

Bob was an outstanding member of the Civil Air Patrol. He provided tremendous leadership and dedication to the Nebraska Wing. His enthusiasm and great work ethic was an inspiration to everyone he encountered.