U.S. Army vet, active town resident for 57 years

Published in the April 21, 2016 edition

Robert-Edkins-Obit-webNORTH READING — Robert J. Edkins, 87, of North Reading, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Friday, April 15, 2016, at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford.

Robert is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Barbara (Peterson) Edkins; his son, Robert P. Edkins; his daughters, Andrea M. (Edkins) Merabet, and Laurel A. Edkins and Michael W. Spring; his granddaughter, Stephanie M. Merabet; his sister, Ruth D. Sedlacko; his sister–in–law, Dr. Astrid O. Peterson, and her daughter, Brigitta E. Peterson; and many nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Donald O. Edkins, Norma G. Black, and Pauline L. Knowlton.

Born in Melrose on November 4, 1928, Bob was the son of the late Orville B. and Anita C. (Leach) Edkins. He was a proud graduate of Melrose High School, Class of 1947, the Fisher School and Suffolk University (Class of 1951) in Boston, and the Army Finance School in Germany. Bob was a U.S. Army Veteran and he had fond memories of his time in service from 1951 to 1953, when he was stationed in Berlin, Germany with the Finance Corps.

Bob was a people person, and cherished his friendships, old and new. Bob was an active resident of North Reading for the past 57 years. He always enjoyed biking around his neighborhoods in North Reading and in Florida. It was a good way for him to meet up with neighbors and to keep an eye on what was going on around him. In retirement, he enjoyed meeting “the boys” every morning at Dunkin Donuts to keep up with town news. For many years he was a member of the Maplewood Baptist Church in Malden and he most recently attended Free Christian Church in Andover. He enjoyed regularly getting together with his longtime friends from youth group at the Maplewood Baptist Church through the “Golden Oldies” Senior Group.

Bob worked for A&P Supermarkets in the Melrose area during high school and early college; the First National Bank of Boston in Boston; Consolidated Chemical Company and Stauffer Chemical Company in Woburn from 1953 to 1968; and Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company from 1968 to 1986. Bob always liked to stay busy. After taking early “retirement” from Houghton Mifflin, he worked for Hudson Bus Lines in Medford and for Coach USA in Chelsea. For over 20 years, Bob worked at the Harvard University football games. He also enjoyed performing freelance export work on behalf of extended family in Finland.

Bob loved to travel, both for business and pleasure. He visited Finland at least 19 times, though he only learned to say one word—“thank you.” In 2007, he had an opportunity to revisit Berlin, Germany—54 years after serving there with the Army. Bob’s last trip overseas was in 2008 to visit his granddaughter, Stephanie, who was studying abroad in Rome, Italy. He celebrated his 80th birthday there and visited the Vatican that day. He always enjoyed taking his family on annual vacations during the April school break and visiting elderly family members in Maine in the summer. In later years, Bob loved spending his winters in Florida with his wife Barbara and having family visit.

Bob had a knack for business and a love for numbers. He was exact and specific, always striving for accuracy. Doing his own taxes and helping others with theirs was like a game for him. He was especially good at remembering license plate numbers, and often surprised us with his knowledge of a wide range of topics. He loved watching “60 Minutes,” and once the program started, everyone knew better than to disturb him. Bob also had an incurable sweet tooth, and could often be found in line at Dandelions sneaking in an ice cream before dinner. He enjoyed eating out and always got a kick out of telling his family it was his turn to “cook dinner.”

Bob was best known for his dry wit and smile. He was a fierce protector of those he loved, and truly invested in the lives of others. Though he was never the mushy type, he demonstrated his love in practical ways that often went unspoken. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Calling hours will be held at the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow Street, North Reading, on Friday, April 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held at the Croswell Funeral Home, on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at 10 a.m. Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery in North Reading.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Bob’s memory to: The GRECC Program, Bedford VA Hospital, 200 Springs Rd., Bedford, MA 01730. Check should be written to: Bedford VA Hospital and in the memo: Unit 62CD Activities or to the charity of your choosing. WWW. CROSWELLFUNERALHOME.COM