Robert R. Rodgers, 77, of Punta Gorda, Florida, passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.
Bob was born May 19, 1944, to Robert and Lorene (Davis) Rodgers in Seattle Washington, during World War II. His father was a Navy officer. They moved every two years following his father from one Navy base or assignment to the next. In high school in Norfolk, Virginia, he was on the swim and diving teams and earned “letters” for his skills. He also was in a school production of Shakespeare’s "Hamlet," where he played Laertes (Ophelia’s brother) who fights and wounds Hamlet in a sword duel and dies at the end along with almost everyone else in the play.
He went to Marion Military Academy in Alabama as he was a bit of a “wild child” and needed some discipline. He loved cars and came home with an Austin Healy as his first ride, later he purchased a Convertible Pontiac Firebird and loved to drive around in it. He went to Florida State University and had a really good time hanging out and going to parties, but he was put on academic probation so he decided to join the Marines to avoid being drafted. He went through Parris Island training camp and excelled. Later he was stationed in Pensacola for flight training where he earned his wings.
He was eventually sent to Vietnam and arrived at the beginning of the Tet Offensive in 1968. What a way to arrive in a strange country during one of the most horrific battles of the war. He was a Huey Helicopter pilot who flew medical evacuations and other very dangerous jobs.
When he returned to the USA, he bought a motorcycle and set off on a grand tour of the country, thankful to be alive and back home again. No more military for Bob.
Bob decided to become an underwater hard-hat deep sea diver, I think he liked the challenge, the danger, the money and the fact that he only had to work six months out of the year so as not to completely ruin one’s health. He set records for some of the deepest dives ever made. He traveled the world on his time off from diving and really got into sailing. He got to see some pretty amazing places around the world and always had a story about some far-flung adventures. He met many of his life-long friends while being a diver, and never forgot them and the things they did for him, even saving his life. It is said that Bob never met a stranger.
When he retired from diving, he became a safety engineer for many companies with his final employer being Parsons Construction Management of San Diego. He also went back to college and earned his bachelor of science in occupational safety and health from Columbia Southern University at 60 years of age. He again worked all over the country for many years.
Bob leaves behind his loving wife, Sharon, who shared his love of sailing, scalloping, kayaking and traveling. He also leaves behind one brother, Clark, and his only sister, Susan. Also, two nieces and one nephew and their families, step-daughters Tina, Sherri (Scott) as well as many step-grands. We are still grieving over the recent loss of his youngest brother, Don, just two months ago.
Bob will be greatly missed by all of those who knew him well. He had a great love for so many things, but he will be remembered for the many acts of kindness he did for others.
There will be a celebration of life from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, at The Punta Gorda Boat Club located at 802 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. A light lunch will be provided followed by burial at sea.