Robert Lupo Sr.

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Robert J. Lupo Sr. passed at 11:11 am February 22, 2014. He was surrounded by his love Mary Ellen Wall, his children and his brother Ron. He passed away engulfed in love and at peace.

Bob "Joker" Lupo was a beloved member of his community, the state of Alaska and everyone fortunate enough to meet and know him during his 73 years.

He had many interests, a list forever expanding by his insatiable curiosity of all things and driven by a genius' mind. He was a member of the Masons, a Ham Radio operator, (call sign W7ICI), a military veteran (Air Force, Navy and Army National Guard), a proud member and the Chaplain of the Alaskan Vets Motorcycle Club, the local Italian club, Mensa, and the gem and mineral club.

He was always engaged with activities and friends but never too busy to lend a hand or a kind word to those in need, friends and strangers alike.

It would impossible to go anywhere in his community without people recognizing and smiling at the mention of Joker.

In recent years Bob ran for public office, everything from Lt. Governor to Mayor. He brought passion, new and edgy ideas and even a bit of comedy to the races.

Without a harsh word for anyone else running, he ran to be part of the conversation and offer his wisdom to make his community better. He was proud of his frugal $30 campaign budget and loved buzzing around to debates and interviews. Most of all, he was authentic and stood on principles and character. His favorite president, Theodore Roosevelt said it best:

"I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!"

Bob was devoted to and spent a great deal of time supporting Military Veterans. He was very dedicated to POW/MIA activities and was known for his emotional and powerful oratory when sharing his poems, including his most famous "Emotions" at Veterans events and memorials for the fallen.

One of his proudest moments was being invited by Senator Lisa Murkowski to share his poem "Emotions" at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC in 2010. His presentation can be viewed on Youtube by searching for his name.

He was given the name "Joker" from his motorcycle club for his grand sense of humor and would always make all around him laugh.

Bob was a national champion pistol competitor, winning many titles on trips to Little Rock, Arkansas to compete with the nations best while serving in the Army National Guard.

He was a strong defender of the second amendment and a life member of the NRA.

A fun piece of trivia, Bob was the original author of the very famous slogan often attributed to the NRA and Charlton Heston, the slogan:

"I'll give up my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers."

At the suggestion of his business partner in Montana he placed an ad in Shotgun News for bumper stickers with the slogan and before long those very bumper stickers were stuck to bumpers across America.

His powerful words were adopted by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in Bellevue, Washington, mentioned in a 1976 report from the United States Senate Judiciary Committee and eventually spread into pop culture being used by Charlton Heston at the NRA convention in 2000 and in numerous movies including Red Dawn and Men in Black.

The last moments of Bob "Joker" Lupo's days were filled with nothing but love and connection from his family and a community he deeply touched. His hospital room was a revolving door of visitors and well-wishers, his phone a non stop chime of those who loved him reaching out to remind him.

From Bikers to Senators, Bob touched hearts, deeply and often.

Joker is survived by his loving partner, Mary of Eagle River, AK, his brother, Ron (Holly) Lupo of New York, his Cousins; Marie & Kathy, his children; Robert Jr. of California, Damion of Austin, Kristina Simpson (Scott) of Boise, and Juliana of Eagle River. Joker also had 7 Grandchildren: Jaime, Riley, Rhiannon, Alexia, Tyler, Landon, & Logan.

One of his great loves was ham radio and in that culture you say 73 when you sign off. He had just turned 73 when he permanently signed off.

We will all miss him very much and he will live on in our hearts forever, and now we collectively say 73 Joker

Devoted Partner and Love - Mary Wall

Nine years ago, an Angel walked into my life. My beautiful angel, my Joker, I miss you so very much. I never thought you could break my heart, but today my heart breaks for my longing to see you again.

From you, I learned to live, to be strong, to stand on my own two not be afraid. I have always been so amazed at the extent of you, the intensity of your love for everyone. Your love for animals, for everyone you met, how you were constantly learning and sharing your knowledge.

The amazing thing was how during the last months of your life, you felt so undeserving of all the love and respect from all of your family and friends. You felt undeserving; something I could not understand. But it was your humility that caused you to feel undeserving. You were deserving.

I told you many times how you saved my life, and all the lessons you taught me that will keep me going until I see you again my love, my true love, my Joker.

Devoted Brother - Ron Lupo:

My brother Bob, or as I came to find what his friends in Alaska knew him by, "JOKER" and, out of respect for him is what I'll call him by here. He and I had many similar interests from minerals, belonging to a mineral club, fossils, meteorites, electronics, coins, guns, motorcycles, and, the harmonica, which I recently saw in a video (he was very good at it!)

I always wanted to learn to play the harmonica and will now do so.

My wife, Holly, and I were invited to Washington D.C. by Joker, for a presentation at the Vietnam Wall where he read a very moving poem he wrote called Emotions.

I was quite surprised at the diversity of people he knew, from U.S. Senators, to Generals, Vietnam Veterans to Presidents of Motorcycle Clubs, and his many friends and neighbors, many of which I had the chance to meet in the short time I was with him the last few days of his life - all of whom loved him.

He was an advocate for the Vietnam Veteran as well as an avid motorcycle enthusiast, was very proud of his Harley Davidson Motorcycle and wore his clubs colors very proudly.

Joker was about learning and would tell you; "You can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it".

I had the chance to go to one of Jokers favorite places with his devoted girlfriend Mary. That place was his favorite Coffee Shop, The Sleepy Dog, where the girls all knew and loved him. I knew this by the pair of coffee cups that were by his computer at home, signed by the girls, telling him how much they missed him and wishing him well. He ABSOLUTELY loved Alaska and would not live anywhere else. He had a hearty laugh and always a joke.

JOKER touched many lives, not only in Alaska, but in many other places and I will miss him.

Bruce Lee once said; "The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering."


Devoted Brotherhood - Alaska Vets Motorcycle Club

Bob "Joker "Lupo was a beloved brother within the Alaska Vets Motorcycle Club. Joker was a long standing member of the club. Serving for many years in the Viet Nam Vets of Alaska MC and continuing his membership after the club changed to the Alaska Vets MC. Joker served in the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Alaska Army National Guard, with a combined service time of 23 years. Joker had a deep love of his country, the armed forces and his club.

Joker represented the mission of the Alaska Vets MC mission of never forgetting about our nation's service members and those remaining POW/MIA's club, at many functions from Memorial Day ceremonies to funeral services. Joker's love of country, club and service, helped him write the poem "Emotions". Joker's poem speaks to his respect love and admiration of all service members and the sacrifice they have made for their country. He got a chance, in 2010, to recite his poem in front of a crowd consisting of senators, statesmen, and other veterans, at the Viet Nam veteran memorial wall in Washington D.C.

Joker was always ready with a joke, a smile, and a hug for his club brothers. He was an honorable veteran, man and Brother. He is greatly missed by the Alaska Vets MC, but rides with each of us within our hearts. Ride Forever Free Brother Joker!!!

Devoted Friend - C.W. Floyd

Bob and I came to know each other while serving in the Alaska Army National Guard. We shared a common interest in guns and competitive shooting. Over time I realized that shooting was only a small part of Bob's interests. His real passion was his pride of service, and his love of veterans. I seem to recall that motorcycles also entered into the mix along the way.

Bob, or "Joker" as his motorcycle club friends knew him, was one of those very special people that would come into our lives, stayed with us, and changed us. People like Bob make us better people simply by being in our lives.

We traveled together to shooting events, and gun shows, and I was always impressed at how Bob always seem to know, in specific detail, the specifications for most any firearm that we would encounter, some I'd never even heard of.

Bob never missed a veteran's event, ceremony, or military activity. He ALWAYS made a point of attending and honoring those who had served or were serving. This was so consistent that if he did miss an event, people noticed and would always ask where he was.

Bob also displayed his love of country and veterans through his poetry. He was constantly writing something new was honored to recite and share his soul through the poetry on many occasions. He could, without hesitation, recite any one of them, at any time from memory - flawlessly. These poems were a great reflection of the level of feeling that he had for his country.

I am very proud to be among Bob's close friends and I was honored to serve with him. I will always be a better man for having known him.

Devoted Son - Damion Lupo

As a kid I remember dad coming home with his camouflage military fatigues and his M16. One of my favorite memories is standing in front of him with a plastic rifle, emulating my very own real life GI Joe, and eager to be just like him once I grew a couple more feet.

As I grew older the typical father-son head butting ensued as I fought to become my own man. I pushed back hard on dad's insistent desire to keep me safe and out of harms way. This was something he consistently and zealously sought for all those he loved. At the same time, and at his core, he understood the need to step out, into harms way, either for the greater good or for one to forge his own unique path into the darkness. He stood by me, both nervous of my ventures into live fire and proud of my courage to move forward anyway.

As a kid dad's incessant need to keep me safe in a safety cocoon was a bit crazy making and frustrating. But it was this very struggle to break free of the cocoon, to become my own man, to grow up and fly solo that forged me into hardened steel.

I now realize that my fathers fierce desire to keep me safe in his safety cocoon, a cocoon that he could control and guard with eagle eyes, actually forced me to grow even stronger to break free from it and find my own footing. He created the environment I needed to grow strong enough to survive and thrive on the path I was destined to take.

Dad was a hyper educated genius with many degrees and vast knowledge of everything under the sun. I remember how perplexed he was when I dropped out of college, but over the years he understood our paths to deep understanding of all things were different but the goal the same. He ultimately embraced my mission, a worldly adventure he even seemed to live vicariously through at times. I felt his quiet pride in the man I'd become.

Dad never left my side, no matter what kind of mess I created, and there was a lot of mess over the years as I stubbed my toes and learned as I went.

He knew he'd imparted wisdom and courage in me that well prepared me for the battles, the struggles and the conflicts I'd face. He knew he'd instilled in me the tenacity to get up and start again when I fell flat on my face, mangled and destroyed. I remember one particular time when I was freaked out and he quoted Martin Luther King Jr with: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." I got it and I got through.

A few years ago I invited dad to be the Chairman of my company. This gave us an opportunity to bond and communicate, growing closer and more connected. The routine of butting heads faded and an interesting conversation ensued. I listened more and for maybe the first time realized who my father was and what he was all about.

In the last weeks of his life we spoke most evenings, often when I was driving to or from the dojo where I teach Aikido. Dad would ask how the school was doing and how my students were coming along. I could tell how proud he was that his teaching DNA had been passed on to me and I was in turn sharing it with the world.

In the end, dad's life was one of love and lifting others up. He was a spirit designed to bring joy and happiness to the world.

There were no exceptions to this intention. I was blessed to know this evolved man, full of love and joy, truly at peace with himself.

Bob "Joker" Lupo was my father, my friend, my mentor, my chairman and my inspiration.

His legacy lives eternal.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

A memorial fund in honor of Joker has been established at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. All funds deposited into the Bob Joker Lupo Memorial Account will be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project on behalf of Joker and all those who loved him.

Published in Alaska Dispatch News from Mar. 1 to Mar. 2, 2014
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