ROBERT CARTER CHILTON

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ROBERT CARTER CHILTON - LAKE ELMORE - Robert Carter Chilton died on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, in Birchwood Terrace Health Care in Burlington. He was born on April 12, 1921, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was the first son of William Chilton and Abigail McCloskey. His brother, Donald, was born shortly thereafter. The unexpected death of his father left Abigail with the challenge of raising two small sons, in an age before there was any sort of public assistance. This devastating experience drew the small family closer together, and Robert developed a fierce sense of loyalty to both his mother and younger brother. Robert did well in school, demonstrating an intellect that allowed him to skip several grades and which would serve him well in the years to come. When World War II arrived, Robert enlisted in the Navy rather than the Army, because he "couldn't see himself bayoneting anybody." He was anxious to serve, however, and like so many of his generation, went to war because it was a job that needed to be done. He was assigned to the destroyer USS Schroeder, as helmsmen with the rank Quartermaster First Class. During the Battle of Tarawa, Robert experienced war firsthand, as over the course of that first bloody day; many wounded Marines were brought aboard the Schroeder. Robert remembers giving up his bunk to a mortally wounded Marine. By the third day, as the Japanese were massing for a final banzai on the tenuous Marine foothold, Robert piloted the Schroeder close enough for her fiveinch guns to pulverize the massing troops. The Japanese attack was stopped in its tracks, and Marine lives were saved as a result. Robert went on to earn 12 battle stars, from Tarawa to Okinawa. His closest call came from a kamikazi who had drawn a bead on the Schroeder's pilothouse. Robert watched helplessly from his post as the plane bore down on him, fully aware that death was only moments away. Then, out of nowhere, a Marine pilot showed up where he had no right to be, splashed the Japanese plane, and flew off, waggling his wings. Robert would never know who the Marine was who saved his life, but he was convinced that God had a hand in it. Prior to his entry into the Pacific Theater, Robert's mother had given him a Bible, which he proceeded to read every day. After the war, Robert made it a point to tirelessly serve God, perhaps as thanks for helping him survive. In a way, Robert's faith laid the groundwork for the rest of his life. Upon his return to New York City, he played an active role in the church community of Brooklyn's Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, serving in the choir and as an Elder. It was at the church that Robert met Libby Dean, a sharp, striking redhead who soon swept him off his feet. Libby was a veteran of a family with 12 children, so she wasn't one to be easily swayed. However, the inevitable occurred, and they were married in East Aurora, N.Y. Three children followed, William, Elizabeth and Susan. Robert earned his business degree at St. John's University, his master's degree at New York University, and a doctor's degree at Boston University, the latter being earned when he was 71. Over the course of his life, Robert had worked as a CPA, a comptroller and administrative manager, a corporate vice president of finance, and a corporate president. He served as President of the Savannah, Ga., Girl Scouts Council, and from 1972 to 1981, served on the National Board of the Girl Scouts of America. He has taught college classes on accounting, taxes, and business management, and has served as a business consultant. As a husband and as a father, Robert has been generous and thoughtful. He paid out of pocket for his children's college years, and helped all of them with everything from auto financing to home improvements. He carefully kept track of his family's preferences and interests, and would support their endeavors to pursue them. Robert always strove for the best, and encouraged his children and others around him to work hard, and honor their obligations. His tenacity and determination to always do what he thought was right has been part of his legacy and inspiration. Robert survived a fatherless childhood, a Depression, and a war. Through his faith and commitment to his church, he met his wife and thus started his family. His 65-year marriage to Elizabeth generated three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren (so far), and a long lifetime of memories. Robert Carter Chilton is now safely reunited with his mother, brother, and father, who have been patiently waiting for him to come home. Robert is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; and his children, William, Elizabeth and Susan. A funeral service will be held on Monday, March 11, 2013, at 1 p.m. in Christ Church Presbyterian, 400 Redstone Campus, Burlington. There will be no visiting hours. Burial services for Robert will be on Friday, March 15, 2013, at Calverton National Cemetery, Calverton, N.Y., with full military honors being accorded. Arrangements are in the care of the Ready Funeral & Cremation Service, Burlington. To send online condolences to the family please visit www.readyfuneral.com.

Published in The Burlington Free Press on Mar. 9, 2013
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