Robert was born in Beech Bottom Brooke, West Virginia, on September 27, 1932; he died unexpectedly after a very short illness on December 2. His parents, Otis Walter and Myrtle Miner Whipkey, are both deceased. He had no siblings and never married, but is survived by an uncle, Clarence Behanna, his wife and a niece, of West Virginia. Robert grew up on a farm in WV, but left that state when he was a young man. He took many different kinds of employment in various states. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a clerk in Alaska, with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and was honorably discharged in 1955. When he settled in Eureka in the early '80's, he became a volunteer with the Braille Transcribers of Humboldt, where he gradually became a highly skilled transcriber/instructor, and gradually took on day to day management of the office for the other volunteers, who were some of his closest friends.
Bob enjoyed computers, graphics software, mystery novels, and music. Because he spent a major portion of his time for over 20 years as a Braille volunteer, and introduced computer technology to the local transcribers, their production of materials needed by blind people of all ages significantly increased during the past decade. Here are some of the comments his fellow transcribers made about him:
"Bob had a passion for Braille; once I spoke to him about Braille, I was hooked. His passion gave me and others a special gift and through this gift other lives continue to be touched"..."Bob was my favorite teacher. He stood far and above all other teachers I have had. He was patient, kind, objective, never one to pass judgment, and he had such a sense of humor!"..."Bob was one of the most intelligent men I've ever known"..."Bob was the linch-pin of the Braille Transcribers...every weekday and sometimes Saturdays he was there tending to countless chores...he was a walking encyclopedia...a crusty curmudgeon, but he had a good heart"..."I could always count on Bob to help me decide on many of the problems we all encounter transcribing...he was always ready to put my work through the embosser after I became unable to go to the office"..."He was a detail man and expert transcriber with a keen sense of humor. He will be missed as my mentor, my role model and my "supergeezer" [his web id]. His legacy will live on in the hundreds of books he transcribed"..."He was always THERE, always pleasant and cheerful. It will be extremely difficult to find anyone to fill his shoes"..."we will all miss Bob because he was our "the buck stops here" guy who always had an answer to our Braille questions and was always ready with a wry or witty comment. We will always remember him."
He would have wanted any memorial donations to go to the Braille Transcribers of
Humboldt, P.O. Box 6363, Eureka, CA 95502.
Arrangements are under the care of Chapel of the Ferns, Sanders Funeral Home, Eureka, CA.