Obituary, Colonel Robert William Gunther


Millbrook – On Wednesday, June 28, Colonel Robert William Gunther flew one last mission. He lived a full, productive, adventurous and inspiring life serving his family, community, country and God. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, October 5, 1918 of Lillian Hayes and Robert Gunther Senior, he moved to Brooklyn shortly thereafter, and resided on Hicks Street.

He graduated Brooklyn Technical High School in 1936 and entered the military in 1937 serving in the 101st National Guard Horse Cavalry. In 1939, he volunteered for the US Army and was stationed as an instructor in Fort Benning, Georgia. He was immediately drawn to the potential for flight and joined the Army Air Corps. Training on a host of planes including BT-13s, PT-19s, AT-10s, B-24s. He had a real facility for it and ultimately became an instructor on the B-24. In 1942, Bob married Helen Szabo in Fort Benning, Georgia. He mastered the B-29 and was sent to the Pacific theater of World War II in 1945.

After the War, Bob held a number of roles including Operations Officer of the L7th Geodetic Control Squadron in Tampa, Florida. In 1949, he entered Purdue University and pursued his Bachelor and Master degrees in Civil Engineering, and became Base Engineer in Kinross AFB, Michigan.

With the outbreak of the Korean War, Bob was sent to Osan Airforce Base, where he was Base Engineer and Chief Pilot Korean War Airlift Command. From Korea, he was transferred to Etain Airforce Base, France and then Spangdahlem, Germany where he was Base Engineer. Following his service in Europe and Japan, Col Gunther was brought to the Pentagon and became Chief of Construction and Civil Engineering for the Air Force. In this role, he was particularly proud of his work leading to the creation of the Air Force Villages—homes for veterans’ widows and families. During his time in the USAF, Bob received an Air Medal for acts of heroism above and beyond while in flight, a Presidential Citation and an Airforce Commendation Medal among others.

He retired from the USAF in 1965 and moved to his family farm, Robinwood Farm, in Millbrook, NY. Engaged and active, Robert never slowed down and served with the Millbrook Rotary Club, Millbrook Fire Company, Millbrook Ambulance Company, the Church Street Social Club, American Legion (50 years), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) among others. Bob’s work with the ambulance company led him to pursue a nursing degree from Dutchess Community College where he became a licensed nurse. He went on to work at St Francis Hospital, Poughkeepsie as well as St. Luke’s Hospital, NY, NY.

In 2010, Bob married Mona Staaf at Grace Church, Millbrook and they resided at Maple Hill Dr, Millbrook.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Mona, four children, (Gail Concannon, Robin Lucas, Robert Gunther, and Mary Cullen), nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Bob was active in the choir at Grace Church, performed at Tri Arts Center, led singing at Millbrook Rotary. Music and song was one of Bob’s passions.

In lieu of flowers, we graciously accept donations to the Robert W. Gunther Music Scholarship, administered through the Millbrook Rotary Club. Checks payable to the Millbrook Rotary Club Foundation. Mail to Millbrook Rotary Club, P.O. Box 261 Millbrook, NY, 12545.

Please join us to take a moment to gather and toast his life at Copperfield’s Bar, August 18, 5PM.

Author: Harlem Valley News