Monday, 18 July 2011

A Celebration of life

Most of you don’t know Uncle Bob, while some of you had the pleasure of taking his math class at Shamokin Area High School. Or maybe you had the pleasure of fishing with him or watching a Phillies game with him and enjoying a cold beer. Regardless of your connection, Uncle Bob’s life stands out amongst most and I'd like to share it with you. 

Uncle Bob possessed a passion for teaching and thoroughly enjoyed learning. I remember witnessing him stand back and observe as some of his brightest Calculus students showed him new ways of solving a problem or introduced him to new functionality on a graphing calculator. He loved when students would challenge him in math class and always welcomed a good debate.

At family functions, Uncle Bob was always the life of the party. He energized a room just by showing up. He was usually the first one on the dance floor at family weddings and the last one to get off at the end of the night. He made a point to listen to his granddaughter, Lauren, and his nieces and nephews so he could get a grasp on the pulse of this generation. He always opened his ear and allowed us to talk. He wanted to learn from us and stay relevant in an ever-changing society. Uncle Bob did not let time pass him by as he grew up, instead, he moved in sync with changing trends in education, politics, and technology. He always wanted to learn more.

This past Saturday, as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, Uncle Bob, in his own words, went “belly-up”. While family gatherings will never be the same without Uncle Bob in attendance, he has left us with great memories and a rich life of stories, travels, and debates. His life will live on in the stories we carry with us.

I’m not writing this post to eulogize Uncle Bob, but to share his final story, in his own words. Plus, I know he would get a kick out of being the focus of a blog post and surely ask a variety of questions about the blogosphere and all who read this. 

When I read his obituary Saturday morning (full text below) I was not surprised that when I finished I was laughing. Uncle Bob composed his own obituary and in it, reminds us all that life is silly and we should never take it too seriously. Uncle Bob is no longer physically here, but he leaves us with a lasting reminder that we all must laugh once in awhile and realize how damn lucky we all are to be here at this moment.

DANVILLE — Robert R. Erdman, of 9 Meadowlark Lane, went belly-up on Friday, July 15, 2011, at the Hershey Medical Center. 

Bob left abruptly to fish one last time at the Rainbow Bridge, with his canine companion of 12 years, Sneakers. Dr. Watson will also accompany them, if he can behave. He also promised to stop at Timbuktu to say hello to Bones and check for other abandoned dogs.

Due to numerous afflictions and a reckless youth, Bob probably lived longer than he should have. This unexpected “longevity” can probably be attributed to his very competent physicians and the care he got from his devoted spouse. So blame them! While here, he enjoyed the friendship and love of his wife and family, good beer, good food, Phillies baseball and trout fishing.

Robert was born June 26, 1943, to Charles R. Erdman and Mildred G. Erdman, of Overlook, where he grew up with the old gang of Turtle, Moose, Rat, Duck, Rabbit and assorted other critters.

He was educated at Mount Union School by some of the meanest teachers that ever stood in front of a classroom. Mr. Erdman went to high school in Elysburg to seek revenge. From there, it was on to Bloomsburg University, Bucknell University and then a career of teaching mathematics at Shamokin Area High School for 35 years where he had many good students, worked with some devoted teachers, but taught under very few inspiring administrators. While teaching, however, he had no better student than his granddaughter, Lauren , and better teacher than his father, Baldy.

Robert belonged to several fraternal organizations over the years, all of which he quit. He did, however, remain loyal to the Audubon Society, the Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy, the WWF, and other tree hugging groups. When Mr. Erdman cashed out, it was not determined whether he was a Republican or Democrat, since he changed registration so frequently. One thing for certain, however, was that the election of Barack Obama meant so much to him.

Surviving are his beloved wife of 50 years, Scarett, his son and daughter-in-law, Robert and Deborah Erdman, of Bloomsburg, and his “adopted” son, Lucho Fuentealba, of San Francisco. In addition, he had one granddaughter, Lauren, someone very special in his life. He was preceded in death by his brother, Frank Erdman, and sister, Joan Bell, and is survived by his sister, Peggy McDermott.

A viewing will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday at the Leonard J. Lucas Funeral Home, Ltd., 120 S. Market St., Shamokin. A celebration of life will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday at the Wayside Inn.

Burial will be at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 15120, Chicago, IL 60693,, or the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, 333 Mamaroneck Ave., #492, White Plains, NY 10605, Please do not give any gifts to some charity of your choice in my name. I have nothing against other organizations, except that these are my choices. If you can’t donate to the above, by all means keep your money.*
*Originally published in The Daily Item on July 17, 2011

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