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Robert J. Drew

1929 - 2018
Robert J. Drew Notice
DREW - Robert J. On June 20, 2018, Robert J. Drew exited the stage for the last time. He died peacefully at home in Port Washington, NY, where he had lived for almost 50 years. He is survived by his daughter Roben, his son Jesse (aka Tom, married to Glenda), his daughter Mary, and his grandchildren Mariko, Jessica, Rocket and Penelope. He will be dearly missed. Robert J. Drew, known to most as Bob, was born in the Bronx, NY on September 22, 1929. He had two brothers, Fred and Ronnie, a sister, Dorothy, and a large extended family including his mother, Frances, his aunts, Jean, Mildred and Mary, his uncles Eugene, Henry, Eddie and his grandparents Domenico and Venera Papaleo. He grew up in the Italian-American Catholic tradition, in an era characterized by the poverty of the Great Depression. Some of the family later moved to the borough of Queens, NYC, where Bob attended High School. His father left the family when Bob was 15, and Bob dedicated himself to supporting his mother and siblings. He developed a passion for acting and successfully pursued that career, working in radio, Shakespeare productions, off and on Broadway plays, and eventually television and film. It was in the theatre that he met Joann Bergtold, a young woman from rural Wisconsin who had moved to NYC to pursue her own dreams of acting, whom he married and had three children with. A loyal New Yorker, Bob relied upon the NYC-based television productions that resisted the allure of Los Angeles. These included soap operas such as Love is a Many Splendored Thing, game shows like I've Got a Secret, and national television commercials for advertising developed on Madison Avenue. It should be noted that Bob would never recommend his career choice to anyone! His acting talents led him to partner with The Production Company, a group of technologists and creatives that created public demonstrations of scientific principles behind product design for major companies that included Volkswagen, US Steel, GE, and DuPont. He was a proud union member of three unions: Actor's Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Bob had a deep sense of humility and generosity and recognized and honored the humanity of everyone. Dining at restaurants with Bob often resulted in the embarrassment of all, as he often went to the back-of-the-house, introducing himself to the dishwashers, the cooks and the owners, making friends, thanking them, and enquiring into the wellbeing of their families. He didn't care about anyone's social status, only about the character of the person. He had a deep respect for immigrants, as he came from a family of them, and volunteered many hours teaching English to recent arrivals. He was emphatic that everyone deserved health care, advocating as far back as the 1950s for universal health care. He loved books and passed down a love of literature, science and humanities to his family, despite his lack of any formal university experience. As he would say of others, "Not bad for a kid from the Bronx!" There will be a public memorial for Bob Drew on Saturday, September 8, 2018 from 4-7 PM at Dolphin Bookstore, 299 Main Street, in Port Washington, NY.
Published in Newsday on Aug. 29, 2018
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