Robert R. Leavitt
Robert Richard Leavitt of Lafayette died December 25, 2013, age 86, at home after a long fight with cancer. Bob was born February 20, 1927 in Dublin, Michigan, a small town in Manistee County. He was the eighth of 13 children born to Earle Van Ness Leavitt and Ilo Snyder Leavitt. Bob's siblings were Ruth, Albert, Walter, Wilma, Florence, Helen, June, Donald, Myrna, David, Violet, and, Janice. Florence Gerstung, Morris, IL, and Violet Wessman, Wrightsville, PA survive.
Baldwin, Michigan was home to Bob where he graduated early from Baldwin High School in 1945 to enlist in the U.S Navy. He remained in the Navy 5 years, earning the rank of Ensign and Pilot U.S. Navy. He was placed on inactive duty in January 1950 and moved to Lafayette, entering Purdue University to complete his bachelor and master's degrees.
Bob married Dolores Foster March 23, 1951 at the Stidham United Methodist Church in Shadeland. Their family included four children: Robert Leavitt; Lafayette, Karen Leavitt, La Crosse, Wisconsin; Vicki Leavitt, Lafayette; and Allison Leavitt, Lafayette. In 1977 Dolores passed away after a valiant fight with cancer.
On March 4, 1978 Bob married Jean Bridgeman Hoon at Bethany Presbyterian Church, Lafayette. Jean brought into the family three daughters: Kimberly Meyer (Donald) of Plainfield; Terry (Lindy) Way (Keith) of Houston, Texas; and Wendy Page (Kevin) of South Bend.
The blended Leavitt family of 7 children expanded to include 9 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. The families are Kate and Jake Beaman, children Alexis and Matt of Madison, Wisconsin; Alexandria Ardapple, daughter Rayne of Stoughton, Wisconsin; Andrew Ardapple of Lafayette; Christopher and Alexis Meyer, daughter Ada of Pendleton; Whitney Meyer of Spokane, Washington; Audrey, Sarah, Oliver, and Natalie Page of South Bend. Additionally, Texas is home to three Leavitt-Way step-grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.
In 1952 Bob graduated with honors from Purdue University and began teaching Industrial Arts at Lafayette Jefferson High School. Bob continued to teach Industrial Arts at "Jeff" for 32 years. He was inducted into their Wall of Fame in 1991. Retiring from Jeff in 1984, he began teaching at Purdue University's College of Technology in the departments of Technical Graphics and Industrial Supervision. He then retired from Purdue in 1994 as Professor Emeritus. After taking a two year break he was asked to manage Purdue's Forestry Department wood products lab and did so for approximately 3 years.
Over his lifetime Bob was active in many organizations. These included: American Legion, Post 11; Eagles Aerie 347; Wabash Valley Woodworkers; Lafayette Woodcarvers; United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, Union # 215 (1956-1972); Tippecanoe County Historical Association, also served on the association's board of governors. And, he was a woodworker and the "Whistle Man" at The Feast of the Hunters Moon for over 30 years.
Bob touched family and the community in countless ways. His property and home hosted many elementary classes demonstrating the use of the apple cider press, nature hikes, and primitive carving of spoons and bowls. The home site saw countless parties, weddings and receptions, pig roast picnics, poker games, and squirrel hunting.
Living his life fully, Bob participated in adventures such as a 3 week trip to Costa Rica to teach the local community green wood furniture construction. His love for airplanes was highlighted with late-life flights in military planes, the SNJ and the "Yellow Peril." Many fishing excursions with friends and family were made to Minnesota and Canada, and net fishing was a great pastime during trips to Sanibel, Florida. He also enjoyed de-constructing barns but was more a creator of projects. Larger projects included building his first owned home, a log cabin, a large picnic shelter, and a grandfather clock. As a master woodworker he produced numerous projects and was continuously learning his craft.
A ferocious reader, Bob believed that if you read, you can be anything and go anywhere!
In short, Bob loved his family, teaching, woodworking, fishing, and managing his property. Those who knew Bob could say he was a simple man. He enjoyed his life every day. He was not pretentious. He was honorable, respected and lived a great life. Bob was happy to have died with projects still on his list and with a loving family at his side.
Services for Bob will be held at Noon on Saturday, January 4th at the American Legion Post 11, 1801 South 9th St, Lafayette. The family will receive friends at the Legion from 10:30 to Noon as well as immediately following the service. Contributions/memorials may be made either to The Community Foundation for the Lafayette-West Lafayette Urban Forestry Fund, 1114 E. State Street, Lafayette, Indiana 47905 or "Wounded Warriors Project" (www.support.woundedwarriorproject.org). Hippensteel Funeral Home is entrusted with care. Share memories and condolences online at www.hippensteelfuneralservice.com
Published in the Journal & Courier on Dec. 31, 2013