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Robert Lewis Worthington Sr.

1918 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Robert Lewis Worthington Sr. Obituary
Robert Lewis Worthington, Sr.

Des Moines

Robert Lewis "Bob" Worthington, aged 94, of Des Moines died Sunday, November, 10, 2013 at Fountain West Health Care Center in West Des Moines. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, November 14th at Hamilton's on Westown Parkway, 3601 Westown Parkway in West Des Moines. The family suggests memorials should be sent to Park Avenue Presbyterian Church, 3120 SW 9th Street, Des Moines, IA 50315 or to a charity of personal choice.

Bob was born November 24, 1918, in Des Moines to Harold A. and Sarah Worthington. He was the youngest of 4 siblings; sister, Alice and brothers, Hugh "Sonny" and Harold, all of whom preceded him in death by many years.

Bob graduated from Des Moines Abraham Lincoln High School in 1936. He was both president of his class and co-valedictorian. He and wife Mary Jean, also a Lincoln honor student (class of 1938), were life long Lincoln booster club members who attended Lincoln athletic events well into their 70s.

In late 1940, a year before World War II was declared, Bob volunteered for the draft and entered the United States Army as an enlisted trainee. When war was declared following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he applied for, and was admitted to U.S. Army Air Corps officer candidate school. He successfully completed his training, and on July 3, 1942, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. The following day, July 4, 1942, outside his air base in Santa Anna, California, Bob married his high school sweetheart Mary Jean Calvert. While Bob flew to various air bases around the country to complete his advanced training as a B-17 bombardier, Mary Jean dutifully followed him by rail. In 1943 Bob was deployed to North Africa where he flew more than 50 combat missions over southern Europe. Bob was awarded the Army Air Force Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force's highest medal for valor. Rotated home in late 1943, Bob served the remainder of the war as the Assistant Superintendant of the Air Force Bombardiering School in Midland, Texas. Discharged honorably as an Air Force Captain, Bob returned to civilian life in 1945.

Upon arriving home in Des Moines, Bob went to work for what was then Bankers Life Insurance Company, and is now Principal Financial Group. He stayed with the company for 37 years until he retired in 1983 as an Assistant Secretary in charge of employee benefits. At that time, he was the first and only non-college graduate to have been named an officer of the company.

Throughout much of his life, Bob was actively involved in many community affairs, and along with Mary Jean, his wife of nearly 68 years, he was an active and devoted member of Park Avenue Presbyterian Church where he served as an elder for many years.

In addition to his parents and siblings, Bob was preceded in death by wife Mary Jean, and by his older son, Robert, Jr. Survivors include younger son, James Calvert Worthington, and wife Nancy of Amarillo, Texas, and Robert Jr.'s wife Ellen and their sons, Darin and Brian Worthington of suburban Seattle, Washington. Also surviving are Darin's wife Cathy, and their daughter Sarah; and Brian's wife Jodi, and their daughter Reese Lilly, and son Warrick. Other survivors are numerous nephews, nieces and their children around the country.

Bob is remembered by his family as a devoted husband, and generous and loving father, grandfather and great grandfather. By every measure his was a full and successful life of faith, courage, kindness, and humor.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Published in Des Moines Register on Nov. 14, 2013
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