Robert (Bob) Davis Woerpel died on April 21, 2015, of complications from leukemia. He was 86.
Bob was born on Jan. 11, 1929, in Dodgeville, Wis., the second son of W.W. (Pat) Woerpel and Mary Davis Woerpel. Bob, along with his brother Marv and many cousins, enjoyed life in this small farming community, hiking and exploring nature with his dad at their nearby property, Canyon Park, where they built a small cabin.
In 1947 Bob graduated from Dodgeville High School with honors. He played football, participated in band and chorus, and served on the student council.
After earning a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he accepted a position at General Electric in Syracuse, N.Y. There his colleague Stuart Haley and wife Marcia (Kane) introduced Bob to his future wife, Frances (Fran) Kane of Utica, N.Y. They married in 1952, and settled in Rochester, N.Y., where they raised their family. Bob worked for many years at Xerox, but ultimately began his own lighting and electrical consulting firm, RDW Consulting.
Bob was a devoted father and husband, spending many hours helping with school projects, making time for weekend excursions, planning skiing and camping trips, and always home for dinner and that important family time together.
Bob and Fran began visiting Martha’s Vineyard in the late 1950s with in-laws Marcia and Stuart Haley. Thus began many years of summer vacations. In the early 1970s they purchased a modest home in Vineyard Haven, where over the years they spent an increasing amount of time. In 2013 they moved from Rochester and made the Vineyard their permanent residence.
Bob and Fran could often be seen walking from their home to town to enjoy an afternoon coffee and cookie, or at Eastville Beach catching up on their reading. Bob took pleasure in the camaraderie he found while sailing and socializing with members of the Martha’s Vineyard Model Yacht Club. He was also an energetic grounds volunteer at the Polly Hill Arboretum, where he displayed the same energy and dedication as he did caring for his own lawn and garden. In the cooler season he spent time inside, constructing an amazing N-scale model railroad with elaborate electrical track systems running through a landscape reminiscent of the Mohawk Valley, an area he traveled many times on his drives between Rochester and the Vineyard.
From an early age, Bob came to respect and enjoy the natural world, a love that he passed down to his children, along with his sense of social justice. He was an optimist, always upbeat with a twinkle in his eye. Although challenged with health issues in the later part of his life, he met them without complaint and little doubt of finding a solution. As a family friend recently noted, he was a “true” person; honest, polite, plainspoken, and always accepting people for who they are. He will be missed.
Bob is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years Frances, his son David Woerpel of Salem, and his daughter and son-in-law Karin and Ted Stanley of West Tisbury. Other family members include Austin and Rosemary Haley, Paul and Julie Woerpel, Ron and Sylvania Woerpel, Marna Woerpel and Tom Van Ouse, Kathy O’Bryant, grand-nephews Justin Haley and Derek Woerpel, and grand-niece Allison Woerpel. A remembrance gathering will be held on June 2 at the meeting room at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury from 3 to 5 pm.