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John Robert "Bob" Cary


1946 - 2019
John Robert "Bob" Cary Obituary
John Robert "Bob" Cary died July 26, 2019, in his home after six years of fighting Stage 4 cancer. Born Aug 31, 1946, in Fairbanks, to wonderful parents, Mabel and Orland Cary, John recounted endless stories of running wild with his siblings and friends. Motivated to learn all that there was to learn, he read constantly. A National Merit scholarship brought him in 1964 to the University of Wisconsin, where he studied zoology and chemistry. He was well-versed in Latin, and was a scientist, musician, mechanic, woodworker, gardener, cook, but foremost a scholar- a modern day Renaissance man.
Despite his opposition to the war, John went to Vietnam in 1968. He proudly served, first as a combat medic and later as a surgical assistant in a field hospital. Back at UW-Madison, he completed his master's at the Department of Wildlife Ecology, where he spent his entire career. John mentored graduate students, taught graduate and undergraduate courses, created computer models with wildlife applications and did field work all over the world. Unconcerned with credit for his efforts, his interests lay in solving unique problems and advancing his students. He never moved away from what he deemed to be the "magical" city of Madison.
In 1986, a yellow lab puppy became John's copilot, and three more followed over the years. In 1990, he married Renée Sandler, with whom he had two children. Austin and Amelia were John's pride and joy, and he was thrilled by their intellect, character and ability. He was the best husband and father his family could ever be privileged to have in their lives.
John was a lovable, unusual and brilliant contrarian. Though an atheist, he filled the house with statues of Dionysus and other Greek gods and from a young age was inspired by Epicureanism as described in De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things). John was exceptionally optimistic, kind and innately at peace. Overwhelmed with love at the end of his life, he would often say, "You see, living a virtuous life is its own reward."
John Robert Cary is preceded in death by his father, Orland Cary; mother, Mabel Risse Cary; and brothers, Brian and Timothy Cary. He is survived by his wife, Renee Sandler; his children, Austin and Amelia Cary; siblings, Charles (Shiela) Cary, Russell (Janet) Cary, Jeannine (Bobby) Lowe, Marie (Bill) McMinn, Steve (Mary Ann Robinson) Cary and Marcia Cary; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. We are tremendously grateful for the care John received at the Carbone Cancer Center from the incomparable Dr. David Hei and staff, and from Agrace Hospice.
A celebration of Bob's life was held at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, at the John Wall Family Pavilion in Tenney Park in Madison, Wisconsin.
In lieu of flowers, John said, "If you want to remember me, give someone a book!" We have also set up an endowment to contribute toward the Wildlife Ecology Summer Field Practicum. John brought his skill as a field biologist to this program and was deeply involved in giving wildlife students enriching, hands-on research experience. This fund would be a terrific legacy for John and would help allow the program to continue. Donations may be sent to the UW Foundation - John Robert Cary Wildlife Ecology Field Camp Fund, UW Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278. Or, contribute via the UW Foundation gift page supportuw.org/give. Type in the fund name and check the "In Memory" box, or search by his name.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Aug. 18, 2019
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