Robert Ray "Bobby" Petter, age 75, of Dickinson, Texas passed away Thursday, August 29, 2013, at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston, following an extended struggle with heart disease. Bob was born October 2, 1937 near West Columbia, Texas to Frank and Annie (Pohl) Petter. Following graduation from West Columbia High School and Wharton County Junior College, he obtained a BSCE degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas in 1962. He married Elizabeth Mahavier in 1964 and had one son, Robert Ray Petter, Jr.
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During his school years he worked for the Texas Highway Department and was the site inspector for the re-construction of the Brazos River Bridge in Brazoria, TX in 1958, and the chief construction surveyor for the Alvin By Pass (Hwy 35) in 1962. Bob was inducted into the U.S. Army (Army Materiel Command) in 1962 and detailed to Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona as an engineer, followed by an assignment with the Arctic Test Center at Fort Greely, Alaska in 1963. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1968 having proudly served two years of active duty and four years in the Reserves. Following active duty he was employed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and spent duty time with the Galveston District, the Fort Worth District, and the Middle East Division (headquartered in Winchester, Virginia) which required extensive travel both in the U.S. and overseas, including Egypt. He retired as Chief of Structural Engineering Section, Galveston District. His civil and structural project experience also gained him a position with Bernard Johnson Inc. in Houston to work with the construction plans for the Texas Viaduct in The Texarkana, Texas Urban Renewal Program as well as several other flood control, bridge design and seawater projects.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Frank and Annie Petter. He is lovingly remembered by his son Robert R. Petter, Jr. of Houston; his brother Marvin Frank Petter and wife Virginia, of West Columbia; his twin sister Laura "Lolly" Pilgrim and husband Billy of Houston; nieces, Rebecca "Becky" Schaider and Carolyn Laurette Crisp; nephew Michael A. Petter; grand nieces and nephews; and many other cherished relatives and friends. He touched the lives of everyone who knew him and never met a stranger. He helped anyone who asked no matter what their request. He loved to talk and could go on for hours, especially about politics. Being proud of his Czech heritage he traveled to the Czech Republic to visit the homeland of his grandfather, Frank Anton Petter, who immigrated from Moravia (CR) to Texas in 1891. He would correct anyone who referred to him as a Bohemian and let them know he was a Moravian. He longed to continue his travels after his retirement, his greatest regret being that his health prevented it. His older brother, Marvin, had a paver installed at the W.C. Veterans Park in West Columbia, TX. It reads as follows: "Robert Petter - U S Army Ordnance - Yuma Proving grounds - CRTC - Mos 509.34. - 1962-1968".
Bob chose to be cremated. There will be a gathering of friends and family at the Houston National Cemetery (10410 Veterans Memorial Drive) later this fall for the inurnment service. His family wishes to thank all his caregivers who tried everything they could to prolong his life. In lieu of flowers, a Tribute Gift to St. Luke's Hospital at http://www.stlukestexas.com/Giving/Tribute-Gift.cfm will be appreciated. Bobby will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 8, 2013