Robert Mortimer

1923 ∼ 2019

Robert Mortimer

Robert E. “Bob” Mortimer age 95 of Lexington and Mashpee passed away January 5th. Beloved husband of 48 years to Theresa (Conroy) Mortimer. Loving father of Sharon Vanderheiden and her husband George of Wolfeboro, NH, Linda Crowne of Lexington, and Carol Schopfer and her husband Kevin of Weston. Dear son of the late Percival and Catherine Mortimer of Winthrop, brother of the late Henry Mortimer and late Catherine Lucey. Also survived by five granddaughters, eight great-grandchildren, and many dear Conroy family members.

Bob was an accomplished pilot and veteran of the United States Navy.

Services will be private for family members. Interment will take place at Great Neck Woods Cemetery in Mashpee. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Home Base Veteran and Family Care at homebase.org.

Veteran of the navy

Donations

Home Base Veteran and Family Care at homebase.org.

Additional Info

"Reflections of Granddaughter"

 

On behalf of my grandmother and our family, I thank you for being here today to celebrate the life of my grandfather. While our hearts are heavy, I truly believe that this is also a time to celebrate. We had the greatest fortune of having Papa on this earth for nearly 96 years - what more can you ask for from life. If only everyone could be so lucky to have their loved ones for that long. For that I am so very grateful. 

My grandfather was a very proud man - proud in the most classy and confident way. He was proud of his East Boston and Winthrop roots, his track and field accomplishments, his Navy days, his beloved boats, his precise amount of oregano in his tomato sauce, and so much more. And he certainly had no problem talking about all of it ad nauseum. But he was most proud of his family, and he wanted each and every one of us to feel that pride. 

Growing up in the same town as him allowed me to see his family pride in unusual ways. I'd go to the local Dunkin' Donuts or the bank and the person behind the counter would say, "you're Bob Mortimer's granddaughter, right? Oh he's a doll!" They would then go on to ask me about a super specific aspect of my life - often confusing me with one of my four blonde cousins - and then I'd quickly realize that they knew a whole lot about all five of us. I'd apologize for how much they had clearly listened to about these five young women with whom they had absolutely no ties, but they loved it. And they'd always end our conversation by saying "he is so proud of you all."

One of the things I've always appreciated about my grandfather was his ability to relish in simple pleasures-- a freshly cut rose from his rose bush. He would seem to marvel at it before putting it in a Dixie cup for one of us to bring home if we had been visiting him. A lone plane in a bright blue sky with a puffy cloud trailing it. "Look, a jet!" he'd say with childlike excitement as if it were the first one he'd ever seen. A perfectly cooked steak-- which of course had been perfectly cut by the perfect butcher. He was very skilled at befriending every butcher worth knowing in the greater Boston or Cape regions. He loved to share these and many other simple pleasures with us and helped us find the beauty in simple things. 

In recent years, it dawned on me that my grandfather, a very old fashioned man in many ways, never acted like a woman couldn't do something a man could do. As a young girl I didn't realize that this was a uniquely progressive trait for a man of his generation. He wasn’t blessed with boys until two generations after having his own children, but he thanked heaven for his little girls-- and he knew that they were capable of anything. Whether it was sports, education, or professional life, he not only encouraged us to excel -- he enabled us to. He loved attending our dance recitals, track meets, skating competitions, whatever we were all engaged in at a given time. He was so drawn to whatever our interests or passions were and made sure we had the support and discipline we needed in order to do them well.

Speaking of discipline, the man was DISCIPLINED. I would imagine this trait was nurtured in his Navy years. He loved to run a tight ship. And he did it well. I specifically remember him teaching me how to properly throw a football down the Cape, putting not a child-size football, but an actual leather, NFL-size football in my tiny hands, turning the ball to put the laces in the correct position. We didn't stop tossing the ball until he felt that I had perfected a Brady-like spiral. 

My cousins and I have heard many a story about the rigorous house and yard work he'd impose on our moms as children - again, never thinking certain roles were delegated to men. On occasion he’d have Courty and me help clean the boats down the Cape with him... which we absolutely should have been doing after enjoying a day out on the spit. Cleaning the boats might not sound like a big deal, but a Bob Mortimer cleaning is NOT your average cleaning. It is a MUCH higher degree of meticulous than most people will ever understand or most people (ourselves included) could ever physically achieve. While his extreme level of cleanliness did not seem entirely necessary to us, I now appreciate the discipline he instilled in us-- as discipline was something he felt was important to finding success in life. But I also now wonder if having us work alongside him was really just his way of spending more time with us. 

It wasn't only his boats that looked their best, Bob Mortimer ALWAYS looked his best. And if you told him he looked great, he wouldn’t say thanks, he’d say “you know how I look this good? Orange juice and vitamins. The fountain of youth.” He was a silver fox and he OWNED it. It’s no surprise he was born on Valentine’s Day since he came out looking like the sixth suave member of the Rat Pack. Looking through photos of him this week I realized that the man literally never had one bad photo. Not one! But in all seriousness, for Papa it wasn’t just about looking your best for the sake of looking good; it was more a mindset-- if you looked your best, you’d feel your best. And if you felt your best, you could tackle anything.

And tackle anything he did. One of the first words that comes to my mind when I think of Papa is resilient. He had a fair share of hardships whether in the military or in his personal life, but he didn’t wallow about them. He let them shape him, but they did not define him. And from those experiences, he developed a strong confidence- a self-certainty and a very decisive nature. He was very confident about the facts, but also the facts that may NOT have been facts. For example, he “KNEW” the NBA was too easy. Yes, the National Basketball Association. He “knew” that they needed to raise the baskets to make it more challenging for the players and more interesting for the fans. He had a clear cut answer on everything-- especially cuisine. This is how you take your meat. This is how you order a cocktail. This is how you take your eggs. “Do you read me?” he’d say, and you KNEW you better have those eggs over easy. He knew what he liked, but more importantly he knew who he was-- in every sense. 

He was also very, very honest. And in that honesty, he could be hilarious without trying to be. He’d point out acne on our faces during those delicate teenage years-- as if we had forgotten about that massive pimple since we’d last seen a mirror. A couple times I had the audacity to call him during Dancing with the Stars. "What?! Dancing with the Stars is on" he'd say as he answered and hung up the phone in almost the same swift second. But his honesty came in the most thoughtful and genuine ways too. If I was going through something hard in my life and he knew about it, he was the one person in the family who would consistently tell me he was there for me if I wanted to talk. He didn’t shy away from hard topics; he addressed them. He wanted his love to be felt.

His taste in everything was exquisite. But most exceptional was his taste in a wife, as he married quite possibly the most angelic woman to ever walk this earth. I know Papa counted his blessings for his dashing good looks and boyish charm, for it enabled him to catch the eye of Theresa Conroy, a strikingly beautiful, absolute embodiment of grace and goodness-- and the perfect partner for 50 years. His love for Terry was unmatched - and to see the sparkle in his eye whenever my grandmother entered a room, or if her name came up in conversation, was nothing short of magical and inspiring. I know he would agree with me that marrying Terry was far and away his greatest achievement. Well done, Papa.

So now, we will take him to his final place of rest, on his beloved Cape Cod -- which he lovingly referred to as "God's country." We will say our goodbyes and we will get his Manhattans flowing and his Sinatra singing. When we part ways this evening, we will forever carry him with us as his spirit lives on in us forever. I leave you with one challenge in the spirit of Bob - make the people you love feel special. Make them feel your love. Make them feel that you are proud of them. Papa would love to know that this was his legacy - as more than anything, he made us feel special, he made us feel loved. And he certainly wanted us to feel his pride-- for he was so very proud of us all-- as individuals, and as a family. 

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Robert Mortimer

1923 ∼ 2019

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