Robert Roy Hearn Jr.
August 17, 1929 – March 11, 2018
Robert Roy Hearn, Jr. (Bob), 88, passed away peacefully on March 11, 2018 at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel after a brief hospitalization during which he was surrounded by his family.
Bob had a rich and vibrant life, full of diversity and fun. Bob was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Roy and Elsie Floyd Hearn on the cusp of the Great Depression, when radio was the only form of electronic entertainment, most people didn’t have cars and the city still had plenty of dirt roads. As a child he lived in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood, later returning to Atlanta where he attended the city’s legendary Tech High School and was active in Jr. ROTC and school sports. Bob spent as much time on the farms of his extended family as he did in town and loved the country lifestyle.
After high school, he served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper (11th Airborne Division) and was part of the Allied occupation force in Japan immediately after WWII. He was glider trained, went through airborne artillery school, and ultimately became a mess sergeant, which he loved more than any other part of his service. After being discharged from the Army, he attended two years of college at East Texas State University (now part of the Texas A&M system). During college he worked in the West Texas oil fields and parachuted at airshows for extra money until a poorly packed chute convinced him jumping from working planes was a bad idea. Ultimately, he left college for the work force because he concluded that graduating with a degree in “socializing” wasn’t going to do much for him in the long run.
After stops in Dallas and Nashville—both places that were always near and dear to his heart—Bob resettled in Atlanta in the mid-60’s. By then, he was following in his father’s footsteps, working in the printing industry. By the early 1970’s, he had already started his own family printing ink manufacturing business because he wanted to control his own destiny and prove to himself and others you could be both fair, especially to the folks that worked with you, and successful. In 1976 his business became known as National Printing Ink, which Bob grew from a single facility in Smyrna, Georgia into a regional ink manufacturer with locations from Texas thorough the Carolinas. He was loved by the people that worked with him. He loved them back, and the success of his business was based on the strength of the relationships Bob built both within the company and with its customers. Watching Bob work at his business was like watching most people have fun.
A die-hard bachelor, Bob managed to stay single into his mid-thirties until he met Bonnie Augustus on an Eastern Airlines flight that she was working as an Atlanta-based flight attendant. A fun and exciting courtship full of dancing and late nights led to marriage for Bob and Bonnie in 1966. Bonnie remained by his side as friend, spouse, partner, caregiver, co-worker in his business and a steadying force for the next 52 years. In the last few months, Bob told anyone that would listen what good care Bonnie took of him and how she was responsible for him being alive.
In 1968, Bob’s family expanded with his son Bobby and two years later with the addition of daughter Becky. Bob was an amazing father who did everything in his power, and then some, to make sure his kids had an easier life than he did, had what he didn’t, and succeeded at things he could not do. Most importantly, he unbegrudgingly shared his life with them and let them find their own way and create their own dreams, even if they deviated from what he imagined for them at times. There were no second honeymoons or parental getaways for Bob and Bonnie after having kids. They were parents at all times, and Bob was an ever-present dad, hanging on the fence at football and softball practices, and come game time, his big voice could always be picked out of the crowd. He even became the unofficial photographer of his son’s high school football team, qualified only by having a decent camera, so he could walk the sidelines during games. Bob was never one to sit in the stands if he didn’t have to.
Bob’s life was full of outdoor adventure. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. For many years he ran his own 1000 acre deer camp in central Georgia where he’d host 20-25 friends, neighbors, and business associates every weekend from the end of October to the middle of January. There was never a shortage of big pre-dawn breakfasts, venison bar-b-cue, college football watching and storytelling to go along with the hunting. Bob was also an avid waterfowl hunter and could call a duck as well as anyone. Always looking for a bigger experience, he eventually took to elk, mule deer and antelope hunting in the Rockies. He took his Southern comfort camp approach with him, however, even equipping one mountain tent camp with power and a satellite TV system so he and his buddies could watch the Braves play in the World Series.
When he wasn’t hunting or watching his kids play sports, he was fishing or golfing but, again always with friends and his son in tow. He loved to bass fish on Lakes Allatoona, Lanier and West Point. He was a member of the Atlanta Athletic Club for the better part of 20 years where he tried to master the impossible game and family tradition of golf.
After selling his business in the late 80’s Bob worked for a bit longer then semi-retired, after which he spent more time in Florida and Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he continued to hunt, fish and golf. By the late 90’s, Bob’s kids, who settled in Tampa and Steamboat Springs, had married and started to have kids, and he began to focus more and more time on being the same kind of “Papa” as he was a dad. Bob’s generosity expanded without fail to his daughter-in-law Christine, who he loved as kindred spirit, and his son-in-law Rick who shared his love of the mountains and the outdoors, and to another whole generation of kids. He drove his grandkids to baseball tournaments, soccer games, and took them hunting and fishing. Ultimately, he was blessed with six grandchildren: Bobby Hearn (21), Cassie Wilhelm (21), Tommy Hearn (18), R.J. Wilhelm (18), and Lane and Laura Hearn (13). As their biggest fans in life, he not only pulled for his grandkids and their teams (especially Jesuit Tiger Baseball) but genuinely believed they are all destined for greatness, whether as artists, dancers, scholars, ball players or just as human beings. Over the last few years of his life, his health faded but his love for his family and friends, the generosity of his spirit, his optimism, and his ability to connect with everyone he met never did. Right up until he went in the hospital, he was still working the neighborhood on his mobility scooter making new friends. That was just him. Always interested in you, always solving a problem, sharing some wisdom, trying to help out. He will be sorely missed.
Funeral mass will take place at 10am on Saturday, March 24, 2018 at St. Mary Catholic Church, 15520 North Boulevard, Tampa, FL. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Bob’s name.
- Memorial Service Saturday, March 24, 2018
Robert Roy Hearn Jr.
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James Hazelwood Jr
March 13, 2018
Bob Hearn, was a giant of a man in both stature and genuine kindness within his heart. A good friend for more than 40 years, that time passed us much to quickly. Bob was a loving husband, father and a friend to so many. An unique success in business, a man that simply lived life on his terms, never stepping upon the feelings of others. Most that knew Bob, would confess he would not have changed too much a long the way. A very strong man in business and "friendship"! This earned him the respect of so many.
Respected and Loved ......
Gob Bless his memory and his dear Family..