Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bokern, Robert Frederick Lived a Full and Diverse Life for 88 Years. His Family and Friends Have Used These Words to Describe Him: Devoted

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bokern, Robert Frederick Lived a Full and Diverse Life for 88 Years. His Family and Friends Have Used These Words to Describe Him: Devoted

Article excerpt

Bokern, Robert Fredericklived a full and diverse life for 88 years. His family and friends have used these words to describe him: devoted, dutiful, dedicated, honorable, courageous, loving, and a gentleman full of integrity. Born Robert Frederick Bokern in St. Louis, MO on August 6, 1929, the year of the big stock market crash, to Eugene A. Bokern and Lucille Bokern (Lynch).His father,an accountant, once also owned an ice cream store where Bob worked part-time, his mother a housewife, and his grandmother, Ida Lynch, lived with them. Bob mostly grew up as an only child, with the first of his four siblings, twins John and Gene born eleven years later, then Ed 15 years later, and Karen 18 years later. He graduated from Christian Brothers College High School where he played a bit of football, then from St. Louis University where he played clarinet in the band on a scholarship. Later he received a Master's degree in Education Administration from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. During college, Bob met his future wife, Mary Joyce Newell, on a blind date at a dinner dance. It was the second date and many dances later that led to a 62-year marriage starting on August 2, 1951 in Dallas, TX and ending upon Joyce's death on March 1, 2013. Two children were born, Mary Susan Bokern in Harlingen, TX and Mary Pamela Bokern in Denver, CO. After college, Bob was drafted into the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant and stayed in full active duty for 22 years during which he served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and received both the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross medal and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, for "heroism or extraordinary achievement while a participant in aerial flight." While in Vietnam, Bob was one of two people who survived the airplane crash of Shadow 78 at Tan Son Nhut that took the lives of six crewman. Bob helped one crewman out of the plane as it burst into flames. His daughter Susan vividly remembers the day when "the man in the uniform" showed up at the front door with news that Dad was injured and recuperating in Okinawa, Japan. A poignant moment for his family was standing with Bob years later at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC when he teared up as he reached out to touch the names of the six crewmen forever emblazoned on the wall. …

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