Barmettler, Robert Stephen died peacefully at home on Sunday, December 16, 2012 after a long life lived intensely and well. A secular memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 12 at the Octagon Theatre at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Born 25 April 1924, in Stans, Switzerland, Robert immigrated to America with his family in 1930. He quickly added English to the French and German he already knew, excelled in sports and theatrical productions at school and entered the U.S. Army
in 1942, where he served in the European Theater of Operations during WW2
. After the war, he graduated from San Jose State University in 1949 and joined the U.S. Air Force
, where he trained to be a pilot and later a navigator. He served with distinction in many locations including most of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India and Vietnam where he earned both Bronze and Silver Stars for valor. In addition to flying, he was a squadron commander at the Air Force Academy and an administrator at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB. He retired in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel and began a second career as a professor of English and Drama at Huntingdon College. During his career, he earned a masters degree and eventually a PhD.
Robert is best known in Montgomery for creating the Dungeon Theatre on the campus of Huntingdon College and teaching there for 18 years; supporting Alabama Shakespeare Festival both as an actor and patron; performing with and supporting the Montgomery Civic Ballet; establishing the Montgomery School of Fine Arts; teaching speech at Alabama State University for 10 years; performing for many summers as Old Tom in the outdoor drama "The Lost Colony"; and for collaborating and writing with Dr. Jeanne E. Shaffer a number of musical stage plays. After leaving Huntingdon, he married Jeanne Shaffer, and they traveled throughout the US performing in regional music theatre before returning to Montgomery permanently.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, a sister and his second wife. He is survived by two sisters: Hildegard Barmettler Graves and Johanna Barmettler Black; Babette Barmettler and Heidi Barmettler Eldred, his daughters with Caroline Barmettler; and, four granddaughters: Elizabeth, Virginia, Margaret and Anne Eldred. He is also survived by the children of Jeanne Shaffer: Jeannette Sowman, Madolyn Griffin, Beverly Shaffer, Larry Shaffer and Malinda Shaffer-Farrington; and, nine step-grandchildren.
Anyone wishing to speak at the memorial service should contact Babette Barmettler 334-462-7748. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alabama Shakespeare Festival or the arts education fund of the donor's choice in his honor.