MARCO ISLAND, FLORIDA
Robert “Bob” Lowell Bridges began his long, full life on July 10, 1923. He left his earthly home on June 30, 2023. He fell short of his long-awaited 100th birthday by a mere 10 days. Bob didn’t fall short on much in his life. From the time Walter and (Mary) Ruth Findley Bridges welcomed him to his home in Trafalgar, IN, he worked hard caring for his families, friends, community, and country.
Many knew, respected, and loved this special man, including his family by blood and his extended family by heart and many friends. Bob lived longer than his three wives, his oldest child, and scores of family and friends. He bid farewell to many but soldiered on making the best of each day he lived until he departed to meet his Lord and those who preceded him.
Bob’s faith, patriotism, and commitment to do the right thing never wavered. He farmed alongside his father until January 1944. Then his “America the Beautiful” needed him to protect its spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountains majesties, and fruited plains from sea to shining sea. As he did for 99 years and 355 days, he answered the call. Bob enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and as an aviation ordnance man aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bennington supported the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. He was honorably discharged in May 1946.
Bob returned home to farming with his beloved wife, Mary Frances Parrish, who he had wed in July 1945. Together they worked, and in 1950 bought a farm in Nineveh and began raising Limousine cattle. They also raised three children: Mary Beth, Robert Stuart, and Marsha Dee.
Bob never let moss grow under his feet. He and Mary were active with family and community. Farming remained a part of his life, but he began working in 1959 for Rexham Corp., Edinburgh, IN. In 1990, he retired from Rexham after 31 years. Bob, however, did not retire from anything else. He employed every ounce of his energy to make his America a better place for all.
Bob suffered greater losses than most. His firstborn joined the angels in 1960. His beloved Mary joined their daughter Beth in 1973.
He married Norma Morning in 1974 and suffered another loss when she passed in 1979.
Through the decades, Bob remained a hard worker, a committed citizen, and a loving husband, parent, grandparent, and great grandparent.
When Bob married June Martin in 1984, he inherited an extended “Martin” family, whom he accepted and loved unconditionally, and they him in return. Bob and June were a great match. They shared their love of music, singing in the choir and special groups, performing in community theater, dancing, hosting gourmet dinners, even trying golf, and traveling to and fro to enjoy their ever-growing family. By the end of his life, Bob’s family had included five children, 7 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. He cherished them all.
Bob was a man for all seasons. From his early education in Hensley and Union Township schools to graduation as valedictorian from Union Township High School in 1941 to his 12-year tenure on the Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson school board during the construction of the new Indian Creek High School, he was a life-long learner. Until his last few days, he kept current on what was occurring in his “America the Beautiful.”
Bob was brave in wartime and brave when confronting mental and physical pain. He retained a loving heart until the end. Bob was loved by his extended family. No one loved him more steadfastly than Patti Martin, his daughter, who lived with him and cared for June first and then Bob for the last five years of his life when June was gone. His other Martin, daughter, Priscilla, always shared in that care, making sure Patti was supported and Bob was able to live his final years to the fullest, whether going to church, beach outings, or family get togethers. Bob, an avid eater, insisted that food be plentiful and delicious even though his gourmet cook, June, and he were no longer in the kitchen.
Bob hosted the family’s decades-long traditional Memorial Day Indy 500 party at his Marco Island home on May 28, 2023. Eleven extended family members from Marco Island, Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama surrounded him as he sat in his living room, watched the entire race, and visited with family ages 6 to 90.
This soldier, who with legions of others preserved our freedom, epitomized courage, integrity, commitment, and strong faith is survived by:
Children: Robert Stuart Bridges (Barb), Marsha Dee Lafferty; Patricia Deanne Martin; Priscilla Martin Teixeira (Paulo); and Donald D Morning (Judy); 7 grandchildren; and 7 great grandchildren.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Ruth; wives, Mary, Norma, and June; daughter, Mary Beth; son-in-law, Mike Lafferty and brother, William Gail Bridges.
Bob was a long-term member of St. Mark’s Church and the Marco Island Historic Society; a 23-year member of the Naples American Legion Post #0135; he worked many years with Habitat for Humanity of Collier County; a 20-year member of the Marco Island VFW Post #6370; a 75-year member Union Village Masonic Lodge F&AM 545; and a 64-year member of Indianapolis Valley Scottish Rite.
Pastor Tom Knight will conduct a graveside service on Monday, July 10, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. at Harris Cemetery in Bargersville, Indiana. Military Honors will be conducted following the graveside service at the cemetery. Flinn and Maguire Funeral Home in Franklin is assisting the family with arrangements.
Memorial donations may be made to Habitat for Humanity of Collier County, 11145 Tamiami Trail E, Naples, Florida 34113 or to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bay Pines, 10,000 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines, Florida 33744 (Check to Bay Pines Health Care System: Memo line “Caregiver Support Program”)
Expressions of caring and kindness may be received to the family at www.flinnmaguire.net.