Robert Gerber

November 13, 1922March 22, 2015

Robert (Bob) Eaton Gerber was born November 13, 1922 in Driftwood, Oklahoma to Oscar Glenn and Edna Gerber. Bob was the third son of five children. After completing high school, Bob spent one year at Northwestern Oklahoma State University before moving to Wichita, Kansas to work at McDonald Douglas Aircraft. The day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Bob enlisted in the United States Army Air Corp. He was stationed at RAF (Royal Air Force) Bassingbourn in England with The Ragged Irregulars, 91st Bombardment Group, which was under the 322nd Bomb Squadrons as a B-17 pilot. He completed 31 missions, earning the Air Medal, with three oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross. His last mission was on June 18, 1944. Upon returning to the states he married Lynelle Wiley on July 31, 1944, whom he had met in Wichita prior to the war and had agreed to marry after he came home safe from his tour of duty. Bob then became a flight instructor training B-17 pilots at various bases around the U.S. At the conclusion of Bob’s enlistment, he moved Lyn back to Wichita, and he graduated from Wichita State with a degree in English and education. His first teaching position was in Caldwell, Kansas, and then Salina, Kansas, where their son, Robert Christian was born in 1951. In 1952, Bob was accepted in the John Hay Fellowship program at Columbia University. He and Lyn moved to New York and lived in Harlem for a year while Bob finished his residency. Moving back to Salina, they welcomed a daughter, Annelle Marie to their growing family. Wanting a change of scenery, Bob and Lyn moved their family to Vancouver, Washington and then Portland, Oregon and another daughter, Leslie Lyn, was added to the family. Bob taught for the Portland Public School District for the next 25 years. He spent most of his career at Grant High School, teaching English, and coaching speech and debate. When Adams High School opened in 1969, Bob became their Activities Director until his retirement in 1979. After one year of retirement, Bob missed teaching and took a job with the Evergreen School district in Vancouver, WA for one last year. Throughout his career, Bob continued to take classes at both Portland State and Reed College to help him understand his students and neighbors. He is remembered for fighting discrimination, encouraging civic involvement, and advocating equality regardless of age, race, religion, or gender. As a Portland resident, Bob was active in Portland’s NE Neighborhood Coalition, contributing his many skills to the Hollywood and later Cully neighborhood Associations. Through his wife, he was also a staunch supporter of the League of Women Voters. In 2002, the World Arts Foundation Inc. of Portland, in acknowledgement of Bob’s contributions to civil rights, awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 17th annual tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. Although Bob does not want to be remembered as a warrior, in his acceptance speech he credited his views on equality beginning during WWII with the support the Tuskegee Airmen gave to the B-17 airplane crews. Among his other interests, Bob was an extraordinary poet, and musician. He enjoyed sharing his talents by participating in poetry reading groups or by singing, playing his harmonica or banjo for various groups of people in the Portland, Vancouver area. Bob and Lyn were married for 62 years, with Bob nursing Lyn through five years of Alzheimer’s disease until her death in 2006. It was during this time he observed the power of music therapy and spent the last years of his life teaching harmonica to several friends to help ease them through the effects of Alzheimer’s. Bob is survived by his sister Mary Jane Evans, Cherokee, OK; son Chris (Cathy) Gerber Vancouver, WA; daughters Anne (Ron) Emmons, Hermiston, OR and Leslie Brunton Vancouver, WA; three grandchildren, Duncan (Caroline) Emmons, Napa, CA, Jackie Dunlap, Vancouver, WA, Emily Emmons, Missoula, MT; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Lynelle, brothers Bill, Glenn, and Ray. Burial will occur at Willamette National Cemetery, next to Lynelle. As per Bob’s request, there will be no services. The family requests that if friends want to honor Bob, he would appreciate donations be given to the Alzheimer’s Foundation.


Robert Gerber

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Carole Malin

March 14, 2020

As Bob’s eldest niece we had a special relationship that I will treasure always. When I was a teenager I remember very fondly that he was the only one of his generation who treated me like an adult. We had many philosophical discussions which I didn’t always understand all of but pretended I did so I wouldn’t disappoint him. When Aunt Lyn contracted Alzheimer’s and gradually left us, I was so proud of his decision to take care of her at home for the last five years of her life. During those years he couldn’t leave her alone so he called me a couple of times a week and we would talk and talk about their early years together and his war experiences. He would recite many of his poems and play the harmonica for me. Even though he’s been gone for five years I still miss him and think of him often. Much love to you, Bob. ❤️

Chris Gerber

April 20, 2015

To all that have written comments here in dad's guest book. Thank you. People that I have talked to since his death have all remarked that he was an extraordinary man. He lived a long life, exceptional. Thank you all for your thoughts. Chris and family..

Jim Davis

April 19, 2015

I am so thankful that Bob was such a good friend and next door neighbor to my mother, Wanda Davis. He broadened her horizons, challenged her mid western assumptions and was a lot of fun. She could not have had a better neighbor and friend. Chris, Cathy and Jackie, we are so sorry for your loss. We will donate to the Alzheimer's Foundation in honor of Bob.

Frank Belcher

April 4, 2015

The word "GENTLEMAN" does not cover Bob correctly but is the best description I could come up with to describe Bob. I loved to talk to him about his miltary times. God speed! We miss him.

Charles Heil

April 3, 2015

Robert was as fine and gentle a man and fellow-professional as I have known. He poured his tender heart and compassion into building lives and relationships, and into his poetry and music. I know he will be missed by us all. My prayer is that he is at peace with Christ. While I respect his humble wishes, I believe it would honor him to remember him in a gathering of his friends. "Feather three!", Bob.

Ray Wright

April 1, 2015

Chris, no words of sympathy can ease your loss, still I pray that you find comfort knowing that others truly care! As a Vet I give a final salute to your father for his service to his Country at a time when the whole world was at war! May he rest in peace in knowing your love & dedication to him.

Sandra Pettijohn -Mentz

April 1, 2015

Bob Gerber was a big influence in my life. He was one of my favorite teachers and he always took the extra time to help me when I needed it. He was so kind and generous and I know he will live on in all of us he touched. I know he never knew what an impact he had on people but he made the world and my school a better place. Rest in peace and know you truly made a difference in our lives.

Irene Klotz

March 31, 2015

Our sincerest sympathies to you Chris, Cathy and Jackie. I know exactly what you mean about feeling "orphaned". You, and I, will do our best living up to the great legacy our dads left us. May memories of happier times help you through these times of grieving.

Jerry Kotsovos

March 31, 2015

Having had Mr.Gerber for a teacher in 1960 and 1961, I have treasured knowing him for more than 50 years.
Moreover, I am very happy to say that during the last month of Mr. Gerber's life, he recited poetry to me,played his harmonica for me,and invited me to come to his home and visit with him (and, yes,I went to his home and visited with him a couple of weeks before his death).

He has never stopped inspiring me.
Jerry Kotsovos

Claudia and Roberta Craig/Fisher

March 30, 2015

Bob was one of the best neighbors we ever had. We can still hear the sounds of the banjo and harmonica coming over the fence to our delight! Sharing long talks and poetry will be remembered,too. Bob and Lyn were a delight to know and the Forget Mr Nots in the garden will bloom very year in their honor.
Claudia Craig and Roberta Fisher


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