Amherst ’53 lost Bob Lape on October 16, 2006 after a valiant battle with stomach and liver cancer. He had lived his entire life in the Columbus, OH, area, where his spirit and selfless dedication to family and friends earned great respect. A lifelong Columbus friend noted at his death that “Bob lived his life as part of a group called the Great Friends, where his tremendous loyalty and dedication found its kindred spirits. Unfortunately this spirit was taken from us too early.”
Born and raised in Bexley, OH, Bob graduated from The Columbus Academy before coming to Amherst. After our graduation, he worked at Julian & Kokenge, the family shoe business. When that business was sold, he moved on to a series of real estate enterprises. Even close to his death, he worked every day with an associate developing independent senior apartments in the Columbus area. Divorced in 1971, Bob leaves two sons—Teddy, who works for a Louisville bank, and Andy, who markets janitorial supplies in Columbus—plus three grandchildren, Cooper, Sydney, and Alden. He is also survived by a brother, Herb Lape, and a brother-in-law, Jack Stephan.
Bob Lape had a truly infectious sense of humor. Reflects Bob Carington, “He was a very amusing guy with a wonderful way of turning a phrase. He used to break us up lampooning the famous face-that-launched-a-thousand-ships quote from Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, ending it with ‘Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kee-is,’ accent on the kiss.” I especially recall two times with Bob junior year, a slippery drive and crazy, frigid weekend in Montreal at semester break and eleven hilarious days in Fort Lauderdale at spring break. I also enjoyed a great ’70s dinner with him in Columbus and interaction at our 25th Class Reunion, I believe his only visit to Amherst after graduation.
At times his outrageous humor earned him the unwarranted label of casual, not-so-serious guy. That was actually proven wrong when he was invited to leave Amherst after freshman year, then proceeded to enroll at Ohio State, got straight As and was accepted back our junior year—losing no ground to graduation with the Class and a BA in history. “Bob loved Amherst, and I was proud of him for what he did when the chips were down,” recalls classmate Stan Evans, who stayed in touch and trolled for trout on one of Bob’s many beloved camping/fishing trips to Lake Temagami in northern Ontario.
In fact, camping/fishing and golf were Bob’s greatest passions, aside from his family. From his early days at Camp Wigwasati, he developed a lifelong love affair with Lake Temagami. In golf—he was on our freshman golf team—he knew how to play the game for fun and camaraderie but was good enough to win tournaments. He was a member of the Columbus Country Club, and a “Celebration of Life” was held for family and friends four days after his death at Scioto Country Club.
Columbus said its final goodbye to Robert Gould Lape with a memorial service on October 22, 2006. In a late August conversation we had, he spoke openly of his life and his struggle with stomach cancer, already operated on, and the liver spots under aggressive chemotherapy. He talked of how it all started with a slight stomach pain suggesting indigestion and a routine trip to the emergency room. He said, “I get really tired now,” and that “the dumbest thing I ever did was not get a colonoscopy every two or three years.” May we all learn from his death and his life.
—Philip W. Ransom, Jr. ’53