In Memory

Robert Kettlestrings

Robert David Kettlestrings was born on his mothers' birthday on December 26, 1945 in Oak Park, Illinois, the youngest child of David & Anne Kettlestrings. He was a direct descendant of Oak Park Founders Joseph and Betty Kettlestrings whose portraits hang in the Pleasant Home museum in Oak Park Illinois. At age 12, he was baptized on February 6, 1968. This day was also a celebration for his Welsh grandfather, 'Taida', Edward Arthur Jones 92nd birthday where seven of Jones great-grandchildren were also baptized. 

Robert, called Bob or Bobby, worked at Baskin Robbins Ice Cream on Lake Street during his high school years. He attended Oak Park-River Forest High School. 

Soon after his first year of college, Bob was hit by an automobile, resulting in severe injuries to his leg which required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. 

Bob was graduated from Duke University, which his older brother Donald had also attended. He had hoped to become a Navy pilot and had some flying time in the service, however due to his leg injury, he was not allowed to become a pilot. He served his country in the United States Navy. He served in the United States Naval Intelligence for over 3 years, with time spent in Vietnam. He was also an academic adviser at Old Dominion University. 

Bob died on October 20, 1981 at the young age of 35 yrs and 9 months from complications due to Multiple Sclerosis. He never married.

He is buried at Elmwood Park Cemetery, 2905 N. Thatcher Road, River Grove, Illinois 60171; Section 34, Lot 60

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06/04/13 10:28 PM #1    

Gregory Marotz

As good a friend as anyone could have ... a loss to us all ... I miss him all the time ... Greg Marotz

06/05/13 03:20 PM #2    

Patricia Kleronomos (Schaub)

Bob and i shared the same home room and I always remember him as the nicest, kindest and dearest of classmates.  

He was a true friend and champion!  

06/05/13 05:57 PM #3    

Randy Kadlec

A great friend. Got to know his bereaved Dad as a neighbor for 20 years and he missed Bob deeply every day. We all miss him.  So many good times with Jirsa, Marotz, Yantis, Krause, Corkill, Bock, Hamm, Goldy and Bob.

06/05/13 09:13 PM #4    

Fred Priest

Greg and Randy, truer words were never spoken about one of the best guys I’ve ever known.  A bit of history:  Bob was a great-great-grandson of Joseph Kettlestrings, the first settler of Oak Park [originally called Kettlestrings Grove.] 

            Bob would frequently come over to my house [he liked my younger sister], and we’d shoot hoops in the driveway or play “up against the wall” [baseball--using a tennis ball, with a chalk outline of the strike zone on the garage door.]  Typically I’d be the Cubs and Bob, the White Sox, and we’d go thru each team’s lineup, taking turns.  Games could last a couple of hours!  I remember one summer when Bob was “working” at Baskin Robbins [on Lake St-?], if it wasn’t busy, he’d provide some of his very best friends with a free ice cream cone.  Yum!

            Post OPRFHS, the tough decision to attend Duke was made easier since both Bob and Joe Schwab [another good buddy] were going there too.  At least I’d know somebody!  Although all three of us pledged different fraternities, I continued to see Bob on a regular basis [Joe entered the void that is college political life!] as we visited each other’s dorm room frequently, to chat about current events, listen to music, and have an occasional smoke.  On many a Sunday night, we’d have dinner together at the “upscale” Oak Room dining hall in the Duke student union building.  My roommate at the time was the maitre d, and he’d bring us an extra dessert when requested.  Bob needed it…he was always so skinny!

            Bob and I kinda lost touch after Duke.  While I returned to Chicago for additional education [law student-1yr, elementary teacher-5yrs], Bob remained on the East Coast.  He served in the US Navy for 3+ years in intelligence at Norfolk, and was also an academic advisor at Old Dominion University, also in Norfolk.  We’d “catch up” on his return to OP during the holidays.  I deeply regret that after my move to CA in 1976, except for some phone calls, further contact was minimal.  I can’t recall when I learned that Bob had MS and was being cared for by his parents in their OP home.  If anyone ever wondered why Bob was such a wonderful man and friend, just look to his folks, Dave and Ann; you’d never find two more congenial, warm and modest people anywhere.  Even after Bob’s passing in 1981, I made regular phone calls to Dave each Christmas to see how he was doing [died in 2007] and tell him what was going on in my life.  I know he appreciated those calls and the indirect connection to Bob.  And I enjoyed talking to him as well.

            Similar to Greg, I think about Bob a lot.  A true “best friend.”  I miss him.  The picture below is a favorite of mine, taken in 1972.

06/06/13 09:25 AM #5    

Donna O'Hanlon (Miller)

I never knew Bob, only from the wonderful halls of OPRF but I am so sorry about the loss of your friend.  I do remember he always seemed to have a wonderful smile and always happy.

It seems like we are receiving memories of so many of our dear classmates that have passed before us and is overwhelming to me to think there are so very many of us who have passed.

I pray there will be one of the largest turn outs ever at this reunion so we can reunite once again.  Even if we weren't in the same click let's all know that we were classmates for four years and each and everyone of us was important to someone.  I hope to reunite with many of you.

06/06/13 10:42 AM #6    

Linda Danly

Fred, that's a great picture of Bob.  One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is Bob's sense of humor.  He loved to laugh and enjoyed both sophisticated and silly humor.  He would come over to my house with Fred and we would make brownies or milkshakes in the kitchen, then watch tv in the den with the sound turned down so we could put in our own dialogue.  Silly, I know, but we would laugh for hours.  I have Bob's voice on an old reel-to-reel tape reciting from the popular LP of our day, "The First Family," by Vaughn Meader.  Bob did a great JFK!

I was shocked and saddened to hear that Bob had passed away and thought of him frequently over the decades - so young, so full of fun.  He's a big part of my happy highschool days  and will always be cherished in my heart.

06/06/13 11:17 AM #7    

Elaine Haertel (Allen)

Thanks for posting the picture of Bob.  It is great to see that as an adult he still had that engaging smile.  I will always remember him as being fun to be around and a genuinely nice guy.  

08/31/13 04:10 PM #8    

Sue Van Dyke (Couture)

I too considered Bob one of my very best friends. The best smile ever and great humor.  He was so important to me that even all my kids know about him.  Now that's important.  I still miss him.

11/12/18 11:12 AM #9    

David Brown

Thank you all for sharing about Bobby's life and your friendships with him, even after all this time.  I fondly remember him from Horace Mann school.  He was a fun guy to be with and play with.  I remember being in awe of his descent from the original Oak Park founders.  Clearly a good guy all around.  It was so sad, what happened with his accident and the MS.  RIP, Bobby.

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