a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: All About Dad

Saturday, June 17, 2017

All About Dad

SUMMARY: Not really, because how can you say it all, there's so much?

Father's Day again.

I set down this very rough brain dump months ago; we pared it down a lot for his obituary in the paper.

Bob, before he met Mom:

Bob was born in Queens, NY and lived there until college. He mastered the subways and buses at an early age and loved the Museum of Natural History and the New York Public Library. At the age of 12, he entered Brooklyn Technical High School “as one of the smallest boys” with an Aeronautical major. He graduated “as one of the tallest.”

Bob attended Hillsdale College in Michigan for 2 years, followed by two years of study at the New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse, pursuing his love of the outdoors learned in part through four summers working as a counselor and caretaker at Old Oak Farm. After this, he worked briefly as a rodman on a survey crew.

Most importantly, in Syracuse he joined the Syracuse Outing Club, in which he participated enthusiastically and met the equally enthusiastic, intelligent, and attactive camper and hiker Louise. They knew each other through the Club for a while before starting to date in mid-1951.

Very shortly thereafter, the government called on Bob to serve in Korea during the war, from 1951 until 1954.

Within weeks of his return to the states, he and Louise married.

After that, at SUNY Albany, Bob graduated with a BS Cum Laude in Math and an MS in Physics.

Mom, before they met:

Louise was born in Massena, NY. Several generations of her relatives and ancestors had lived in that part of the state.  She joined Girl Scouts in 1938, and participated in one form or another until her last few years.

Her family enjoyed outdoor activities, particularly canoeing and camping in central and northern New York state. Birds fascinated her, and she could be found with binoculars to her eyes and a Peterson’s Field Guide in her pocket for decades, anywhere she traveled.

At Syracuse University, she earned BA and MA degrees in Early Childhood Education. Although she dated other students there, she fell in love with the “romantic” and “funny” Bob Levy.

After graduation, she taught schools elementary school for a few years.

After they married:

They moved to Albany so that Bob could complete his degrees. Louise became pregnant right away, which began her long career as mother, homemaker, and community volunteer.

After SUNY Albany, Bob and Louise took a summer job managing John’s Brook Lodge in the Adirondacks. Both enjoyed it. After the summer, they moved to Newcomb, NY for Bob’s new job as a high school science teacher.  Two years later, they received an offer to manage Adirondak Loj in Lake Placid, NY, and worked there for a year and a half.

At that time, with three children, Bob looked for a better opportunity. Systems Development Corp. offered to train him in the new industry of computer programming with the potential of a job offer if he did well. So they packed their belongings in their Chevy Carry-all and drive to Santa Monica, CA, which seemed like a world away from their families in New York.  Bob got the job and stayed with SDC through a move to Colorado Springs, CO.

He accepted an intriguing job at IBM in Poughkeepsie, developing systems for the yet unreleased IBM 360. So with 4 kids and another on the way, they sold their house and drove back to New York. 

Louise began finding time to volunteer with the Girl Scouts, including as a troop leader.

Bob’s IBM job took them to Cupertino, CA, in 1968, where Bob worked for a variety of technical firms as a software developer, then briefly as a machinist along with Louise as an admin, before retiring. They lived in the same house their until their deaths.

Bob took an interest in local politics, served on citizen committees for the Cupertino City Council, and once ran for Councilman.

Louise joined the League of Women Voters in 1973 and remained active as Secretary until her last couple of years.  She also joined the Environmental Volunteers, for over 30 years helping school children to understand and enjoy our natural environment in the classroom and on hikes.  She volunteered for a while as a school librarian.  Louise attended Union Church and sang in the choir there from 1968 until her death.

Bob and Louise loved to explore this country, to hike, to camp, and to canoe and, starting from their days together in the Outing Club until very late in life, they kept it up weekend after weekend and summer after summer, introducing their 5 children to the delights offered out in nature and at parks and museums across most of the states in the US. They devoted months together researching, writing, producing, and selling some of the first detailed trail guides for Rancho San Antonio and other area parks.

Together, they also taught First Aid classes for the Red Cross and volunteered at polling places during elections.  They enjoyed genealogical research and wrote, transcribed, assembled, and published a variety of books about their ancestors. Through their efforts, they made contact with, and kept in touch with, many distant relatives.

They are survived by their five daughters, sons-in-law, six grandchildren, Bob’s cousin Carol Anne Munson [note June 2017: Who died earlier this year] and her children, and Louise’s niece, grandniece, and greatgrandniece. 


This barely scratches the surface of the places they went, the things they did, the people they met, the impact they had.  And doesn't dive under the surface of who they were.

Dad loved being a Dad (almost always) and loved giving people things. He had so much fun at Christmas, for example.  Christmas will never be the same.

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