Robert (Bob) Nairn Van Benthuysen, Jr.


Robert (Bob) Nairn Van Benthuysen, Jr. died on Dec. 23, 2020 at The Harbor in Opelika, Alabama from pancreatic cancer after a brief illness. He died only hours before his wife, Joyce, joined him. They celebrated their 73rd anniversary in heaven on Christmas Day.

Bob was born May 11, 1925 to parents Robert Nairn Van Benthuysen and Mary Rose Maflin Van Benthuysen in Yonkers, New York. He spent his childhood in Wantaugh, New York where he enjoyed time at Jones Beach and going to Radio City Music Hall and theatres in NYC with his parents. He attended Mepham High School in Bellmore and graduated from Arcade High School in 1943 while living on a farm upstate to assist relatives there.

After graduation he entered the US Army Air Force aviation cadet program. Bob was sent to East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee to get college basics prior to attending flight school in Texas. The war ended before his training did, so he returned to Johnson City, graduating in 1948 with a BS. He then completed a Master of Science at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

While in college Bob met and married Joyce Shaw. They welcomed four children to the family, spending most of those years in Fairfax, Virginia. Bob worked as a Contact Research Specialist with the Central Intelligence Agency and continued his military career, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force Reserves. He was a longtime member of the Fairfax Volunteer Fire Department.

Bob was a faithful husband and always provided for and protected his family well. He loved good food and was an avid and successful gardener, growing tomatoes and mowing his own lawn until age 94. After retiring he added boating and crabbing to his activities when he and Joyce moved to a waterfront home near Reedville, Virginia. His grandsons have vivid memories of those years and think they had the best grandparents ever. Meanwhile Bob and Joyce traveled the world together with trips to Africa, Australia, Europe, South American, India, Russia, China and many other places.

Bob’s last major move was to Opelika, Alabama. For a decade he and Joyce volunteered at Fort Benning, GA for the ESGR, preparing reserve soldiers to deploy and then return to civilian employment. Then they took the early shift as volunteers in the heart cath lab at EAMC and assisted with projects at Trinity United Methodist Church, their home church in Opelika. There they were faithful members of the Thomas Samford Sunday school class.

Bob is preceded in death by his parents; sons, Robert Nairn Van Benthuysen III and Warren Shaw Van Benthuysen; and step grandson, John Bartsch.

He leaves to cherish his memory daughters, Kristina (Larry) Bartsch of Damascus, Maryland, and Melisa (Terry) Love of Opelika; grandsons: Mark (Connie) Shelley of Midland, Michigan Christopher (Catherine) Shelley of Columbia, Maryland, Cary Robert (Crystal) Shelley of Catonsville, Maryland, Ryan (Molly) Himel of Mildenhal England, United Kingdom, and Adam (Kelly) Himel of Longwood, Florida; step-grandchildren Amber Love, Holly (David) Breeden, Tom (Lauren) Bartsch, Christian (Juliet) Bartsch, Will (Jamie) Bartsch, Valerie (Daryl) Marine, and Kim Bartsch; and 15 loved great-grandchildren.

There will be a private burial service in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date when family members can travel. A memorial gift may be sent to:

Trinity United Methodist Helping Fund

800 2nd Avenue

Opelika, AL, 36801

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