Deceased December 5, 2018
One of our more colorful and charismatic classmates—senior lifeguard at Jones Beach, B-24 bomber ball turret gunner, Los Angeles prosecutor—Bob passed away Dec. 5, 2018, with his beloved wife of 67 years, Monica, still at his side. Tragically, she died of a massive stroke just eight weeks later. They are together again.
Bob was born in New York and grew up on Long Island. He went to Baldwin High School, turned down a baseball scholarship to Duke and followed some pals to Ohio State where they all joined Chi Psi.
World War II altered plans, and he applied for flight training, but a “locked knee” injury nixed pilot school, and he became a ball turret gunner on a B-24 with the 454th bomber group of the 15th Air Force based in Italy.
When the war ended, he went to Jones Beach as a senior lifeguard and joined us at Amherst, where he sparred regularly with Prof. Baird, eventually earning the encomium, “You have been an interesting student.” It was on Long Island that he met Monica Schmid, who was due to return to her native Switzerland, thus beginning their enduring marriage.
After Amherst he went to graduate school at Trinity College in Dublin and explored his Irish heritage. Bob then accepted a job teaching English and history at Chadwick School in California, with Monica teaching French. He left teaching and entered the aerospace industry but went to night law school at USC and received his J.D. degree in 1965.
Law was his real passion, and Governor Reagan appointed him to several boards in his work in legislative reform of the welfare system before he became special assistant to the Los Angeles district attorney and spent 22 years prosecuting serious felonies including a number of death verdicts. In 1989 he was voted Prosecutor of the Year, receiving tributes from Governor Reagan and other officials.
At the age of 70, Bob finally became a pilot, flew Cessna 172s and began to travel extensively all around the world, and I do mean all around the world, as we would hear from time to time in his letters and conversations.
By the wizardry of today’s electronics, I was able to watch his entire memorial service live on my smart phone. There were many tributes with the most significant being by his daughter Tara who best captured Bob’s special spirit, quoting Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gently into the night.” At the close of the service, we heard the familiar strains of “our” music—Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa. It was Robert Michael Martin all the way, just as Bob had planned it.
He is survived by three children and 10 grandchildren. Rest in peace old pal.
Gerry Reilly ’49