Robert Whitehorn

Apr 29, 2021 by

Published April 30, 2021

MELROSE — Soft-spoken, simply direct in his approach to life, and known by those close to him for his corny sense of humor, Robert George (Bob) Whitehorn’s life began as the fourth child of Abner and Ruby Whitehorn in 1937. His parents were born in Newfoundland and immigrated to the US when they married to start their lives together, ultimately settling in Melrose. From the start of his life, Bob was immersed in the fine art of carpentry under the tutelage of his father, who was a renowned home builder in Melrose. Bob distinguished himself as a craftsman, specializing in fine finishes and he had a reputation as a quality remodeling contractor and business owner. He was known for his custom kitchens, baths, and home additions, improving countless homes in Melrose and the surrounding towns. Local real estate ads were known to include “Whitehorn kitchen” in the list of a home’s amenities. Bob also served his community by acting as treasurer for the Melrose Lyons Club.

As a teenager, Bob was excited to begin his adult life graduating at the age of 17 from Melrose High School to enlist in the Air Force and serving overseas in post-war Japan on the island of Okinawa. It was on a trip home for military leave in 1958 that his close friend, Tim arranged a blind date for Bob. It was love at first sight the night he met Iris Ann Dinarello as they danced the night away at the winter ball for Melrose High School, where Iris was a senior. Within three months, they were engaged and married later the same year after Bob received an honorable discharge from his military service.

Devoted to each other from the start, Bob and Iris began their family right away with a son, David, followed by three daughters, Debbie, Peggy, and Maria. He worked hard during the day on the job site, met with clients at their homes at the end of his workday, and often stayed up late into the evening estimating jobs while Iris typed his correspondence alongside him. Their marriage was a true partnership in providing for their family and raising the children. Not all about work, Bob always enjoyed taking time off from his business and spending it with his family – camping, traveling, and exploring the sites and natural wonders throughout New England, New York state, and Southern Canada, including many trips to Disney World in Florida with multiple generations of children. Bob and Iris were also able to fulfill their dream of traveling abroad and they visited Italy, the UK, and the tropical islands.

Bob enjoyed staying fit and when he wasn’t working or taking care of his family, he could be found at the gym lifting weights or playing racquet ball. He and Iris enjoyed their gym dates together and made it a part of their daily routine, stopping for their favorite breakfast on the way home. Bob not only improved his client’s homes, but he also enjoyed renovating the dozen or more homes that he owned in his lifetime, including several investment properties. He was not one to sit idle. He always had a pencil behind his ear, a hammer slung on his tool belt, and the willingness to tackle any project. His woodworking skills included crafting everything from cabinets and desks, to bookshelves and keepsakes, each made with attention to detail, including hand-cut moldings, trim, and finishes. These were often presented to the beneficiary on holidays and special occasions. His reward was the impact his work had on the recipients – a desk for David at Christmas; a china cabinet for his mother, Ruby, that brought her to tears as she threw her arms around her son; knotty-pine cabinetry for Iris’ family room; a cedar-lined, oak hope chest for Debbie; a mahogany cradle for Peggy’s first born; and a kitchen remodel for Maria’s first home in Washington DC. He also was able to experience a dream come true working alongside his son to build Dave’s first home in Gray, Maine.

Bob always welcomed his children’s spouses into the family with open arms and enjoyed watching it grow to include 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Eventually, Bob and Iris retired to Gilford New Hampshire to live in their cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee. Bob stayed busy serving on the building committee for their Lake Shore Park community where he shared his lifetime of expertise in carpentry, building, and remodeling. It was here that their extended family would gather for summer adventures on the lake – swimming, hiking, fireworks, campfires, barbecues, blueberry picking, and memorable sunsets!

Bob will be missed by all who had the honor to know him, but mostly by Iris who had come to rely upon that endless supply of love and energy that he had for her until his last breath. He passed peacefully on Patriots Day with Iris and his cherished baby girl, Maria by his side. Now in eternal rest, he will join the family members and friends who have gone before him; especially his son, David and grandson and namesake, Robert (Bobby). His legacy passes on to all those he inspired with his work ethic, strength, and passion for life. Rest in Peace, Robert George Whitehorn.

Beloved husband of Iris A. (Dinarello) Whitehorn. Loving father of the late David A. Whitehorn, Deborah A. Chandler of Saugus; Margaret “Peggy” Harriman and her husband Rick of W. Newfield, M.E.; and Maria W. Votsch and her husband Viktor of Arlington, V.A. Cherished grandfather of 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Caring brother of Beth Whitehorn of Attleboro and the late Mildred Whitehorn; Kenneth Whitehorn and Janice Mulvey . Sister in law of Beverly Whitehorn of N. Reading. Also survived by nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Due to the current health crisis, funeral services will be private. A celebration of Bob’s life will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Bob’s memory to the Alzheimer’s Assoc., 309 Waverly Oaks Rd., Waltham, MA 02452 or the Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA 02445. For obituary and to sign online condolence visit

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