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Robert Afton Hotchkiss Brig. Gen. (Retired)

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Robert Afton Hotchkiss Brig. Gen. (Retired) Obituary
Robert Afton Hotchkiss, Brig. Gen. (Retired)

AGE: 76 • Wilmington

The world is a little less interesting these days! On November 11, 2015, Robert Afton Hotchkiss rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. He spent the last years, months, weeks, days, and moments of his life surrounded by those he loved and those who loved him. As a lifelong patriot, Bob fittingly chose Veteran's Day to win his final battle.

Born March 10, 1939, Robert was the first born to Afton and Marion Hotchkiss in Buffalo, N.Y and big brother to David and John (Helen). His family moved to Wilmington, Delaware when he was 16, although Bob considered himself a Buffalonian the rest of his life.

On July 11, 1955, Bob's life was forever changed when he literally met the girl next door, Gail (Sue) McHugh. He graduated from Salesianum High School in 1957 and went on to get his Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Delaware. His love and appreciation for his Salesian Brothers only strengthened over time.

Bob and Sue were married on April 29, 1961 and shared 54 years of love, laughter, tears and more laughter together. They had 4 children, Robert A. Hotchkiss, Jr. (Judy), Mimi Edwards (Tim), Pam Kitchengs (Rene) and Jennifer Barrasso (John). The Hotchkiss Clan grew to include 14 grandchildren who adored their "Tata". Paul, Alexa, Taylor, Tucker, Walker, Madison, Conor, Michaela, Dylan, Matthew, Wyatt, Abigail, Keely, and Tigue loved his childlike playfulness, Willey the Skunk Stories and especially the annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of Camp Chaos.

Besides building a family and home filled with laughter and love, Bob was equally as successful in his professional and military careers. He joined the DuPont Company as an advertising assistant in 1962. His unwavering work ethic, masterful use of words and ability to connect with people led to many promotions over his career. He retired from DuPont after 30 years and went on to work for ICI Acrylics/Huntsman. He traveled extensively throughout his career, collecting lifelong professional friendships all over the world.

Bob's love for his country started at a young age as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, eventually rising to the rank of Major and serving as Vice Commander of the Delaware Wing. He went on to a successful 38 year military career that began when he enlisted as an Airman Basic in the Delaware Air National Guard. Following basic training he was assigned to the public affairs section of the 142 Tactical Fighter Squadron. In 1962 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned as Personnel Officer in the 166 Air Transport Group (Heavy). He was later assigned as the Group Information Staff Officer, where as Editor of the DANG Truth, he won the first prize in the National Guard Association's annual contest, and the Tactical Air Command's Award for Art and Writing. For eleven years he served as Commander of the 166 Combat Support Squadron. In 1991 he transferred to State Headquarters where he was promoted to Colonel and served as Public Affairs Staff Officer until eventually retiring as a Brigadier General in 1995.

Service was a continuing theme for Bob into retirement. He was a Member of St. Ann's Parish and served as a lector, member of Finance and Parish Councils and President of St. Vincent DePaul Society. He served on the Board of Catholic Ministry to the Elderly, was a Section Representative and Knight of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and recipient of the Diocesan Order of Merit Award from the Diocese of Wilmington.

There will be a visitation on Monday, November 16 from 6-8 PM at Mealey's Funeral Home, 2509 Limestone Road Wilmington, DE 19808. A mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Ann's Catholic Church, 2013 Gilpin Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19806 on Tuesday, November 17 at 10 AM. Interment will follow at All Saints Cemetery.

The Hotchkiss Family has been overwhelmed by the abundant expression of care and concern throughout Bob's illness. We would like to take a moment to especially thank Dan McCardle for graciously becoming Bob's personal pilot and Dr. Collette Mehring and Dr. Eric Martin for their compassionate approach to caring for the body as well as the human spirit. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to the Rev.William Keech O.S.F.S. Scholarship Fund at Salesianum School 1801 N. Broom Street Wilmington, DE 19802 or St. Ann's Parish St. Vincent DePaul Society 2013 Gilpin, Ave. Wilmington, DE 19806. (302) 652-5913

Published in The News Journal from Nov. 13 to Nov. 16, 2015
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