Robert Earl Siler died Friday, August 30, 2013 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Bob was born December 6, 1915 in Westfield, NJ. He was the son of the late Robert Ralph and Annie Moore Seila. Funeral services will be held at 11:00am Monday, September 2, 2013 at Lakeside Baptist Church in Rocky Mount where Bob was a charter member. Rev. Gaylord Lehman and Rev. Elizabeth Edwards will officiate the service. Visitation with the family will follow the service.
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He came to love North Carolina after spending summers, as a boy, visiting his uncle's farm in Dortches, North Carolina. He moved to Dortches in 1941 and lived with relatives until 1943, when he volunteered for the US Army Air Force. During this time he met and married his wife, Christel Eschmann of Rocky Mount. He served with honor and was awarded the Army's Commendation Medal for meritorious service for the swift deployment of more troops from the European to the Pacific theatre than any other terminal.
He returned to Rocky Mount in 1946 and he and his wife had four children while working as sales manager at Gardner's Dairy for seven years. Bob later joined Peoples Bank and Trust. He retired after 23 years of service as a Vice President of New Business Development. He lost his wife Christel to cancer in 1967, and remarried in 1975 to his wife of 38 years, Joyce Dubel Siler.
Rocky Mount was Bob's favorite place and he devoted his life to making it a better place to live. Bob began his long distinguished service to the community in 1956, when he was appointed to chair a committee designed to study whether a bridge over the train tracks was needed at George Street. He believed the bridge was crucial to avoid emergency vehicles being delayed by train traffic.
In 1965 Bob helped put in place early plans for the development of Nash Technical College, and continued to serve on its board for many years.
In 1967 he, along with a co-worker, spent numerous hours calling area employers to persuade them to allow their workers a few hours off to vote on a referendum to bring Nash General Hospital to the area. The ballot passed by just 107 votes.
For his service to North Carolina, Bob also received one of the state's highest honors, the ìOrder of the Long Leaf Pineî, from Governor Jim Hunt. This award is given to citizens with a proven record of service to the state. Bob later served Governor Jim Hunt for 6 years on the state's ìBoard of Economic Developmentî.
Bob's community service continued for all of his adult life. During his career at People's Bank, he became involved in many other area civic organizations. Bob served as a Nash County Commissioner for 16 years, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Vice President of the Jaycees as well as a Rocky Mount City Councilman. He served on the Edgecombe-Nash Mental Health Board for 20 years, 16 years on the Rocky Mount Edgecombe-Nash planning board, and chairman of the board of the Children's Museum for 15 years. He was chairman of the Nash County Board of Elections, treasurer of the American Red Cross, president of the NC Wesleyan College Area Foundation, chairman of the North Carolina 2000 for Nash County, chairman of the Utilities Committee for Rocky Mount, served 11 years as chairman and treasurer of the local Salvation Army, and served three years on the board of Alderman.
Robert Siler served the many causes he believed in, most importantly, for the people of Rocky Mount. He remarked many times that he was grateful for the opportunity to give back to the town he loved so much. He gave to the community because he believed that he could make a difference and his contributions would change lives. He leaves this world knowing that he was a vital part of Rocky Mount's heritage, a true volunteer, and a proud member of ìThe Greatest Generationî. He spent many mornings with his Hardee's Coffee Club and Thursday afternoons with his Kiwanis Club at Benvenue. He will be greatly missed.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Christel Eschmann Siler, to cancer in 1967; son, Robert Earl Siler Jr., in a hunting accident in 1976; brother, Claude, of Lenoir; sisters, Pauline of New York and Thelma Sparell of Greensboro; and step-daughter, Mary Lou Dubel of Greensboro.
A loving, caring, giving husband, father, grandfather and great-granddad, he is survived by his wife, Joyce Dubel Siler; daughters: Dianne Poland of Rocky Mount, Janet Sandlin of Wilmington; and son, Lee, and daughter-in-law, Janet Rene Place of Charleston, SC; daughter-in-law, Sandra Bradley Siler Barnes of Rocky Mount; grandchildren: Scott Siler of Wilmington, Chris Barnes of Raleigh, Jason Robinson and wife Lori of Rocky Mount, Kristin House of Rocky Mount; and great-grandchildren, McKenzie and McKenna Robinson of Rocky Mount.
He is also survived by his step children: Jack Dubel and wife, Kathy, Carol Womble and husband Jim, Jeff Dubel and wife Suzy, all of Greensboro, and Donna Ridgley and husband Dr. Mark Hutchin of Asheville; and step-grandchildren, Jessica, Joseph, Julianne, Emma Dubel, Ashley Dugan and husband Andrew, and Todd Womble, Brent Womble and wife Ashley, and Gregg Womble and wife Jessica.
Bob will also be remembered by his cousins, Julia Jones Purinai and Ann Jones Vaus of Rocky Mount, Sue Jones Collins of Beaufort SC, Betty Ann Sparrell Napoliello, Susan Sparrell, Paul Sparrell and wife Rebecca of Greensboro NC, Sandy and Bill Seila of Inola OK, Andy Seila and wife Jody of Watkinsville GA and Paulina Seila, widow of Bob Seila of Raleigh NC.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made to Lakeside Baptist Church, 1501 Sunset Avenue, Rocky Mount NC 27804 or the Salvation Army, 420 Paul Street, Rocky Mount NC 27803 or a
The family would like to express their gratitude to Nash General Hospital and especially Otis Barnes for their loving care and support during Bob's illness, and Judy Baines for caring for Bob so kindly while attending Kiwanis Club functions at Benvenue Country Club. Your acts of kindness are greatly appreciated.
Arrangements entrusted to Wheeler and Woodlief Funeral Home, 1130 N. Winstead Avenue, Rocky Mount NC 27804. You may share memories and condolences with the family by visiting www.wheelerwoodlief.com.
Published in Rocky Mount Telegram from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, 2013