Robert A. (Bob) Houston, 94, passed away peacefully on Friday, November 13, 2020, two days shy of his 95th birthday. Bob is the son of Congressman John M. Houston and Charlotte W. Stellhorn Houston. He was the last and longest-living grandchild of Wichita pioneer lumberman Samuel J. Houston. One of Bob's cousins is Major Samuel R. Bird, Officer in charge of the casket detail for the JFK funeral.
Bob was born in Newton, Kansas in 1925 and received his education at the Cooper School, The Bullis School in Maryland, and St. John's Military School in Salina, Kansas. He graduated in 1943 as a 2nd Lt. Shortly before his graduation he skipped school and caught a train to Wichita to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra, featuring Frank Sinatra at the Blue Moon Theater. Prior to joining the U.S. Marine Corps, his 1st job was mail boy at the British purchasing commission in Washington DC. His 1st car was a Model T he bought for $25.00. He was trained in the Marines as a propelled weapons crewman at Parris Island and New River. After training, on his cross country move to Camp Pendleton, and passing through his hometown, he opened the window to see if he recognized any friends. This could have gotten him court-martialed were it not for his higher-ranking brother-in-law intervening.
Bob's unit, Weapons Company, 22nd Marines, 6th Marine Division, were sent to Saipan and then to the invasion of Okinawa through June 1945. Following the battle, he traveled on to Guam for Mainland Japan combat in Operation Downfall. Next, he was sent to Tsingtao China for extended duty. He traveled on the USS Randall, President Jackson, Oskalusa, C.F. Hughes, Fainland, and LST 913. His military awards include the Presidential Unit Citation, China Occupation, Asiatic-Pacific, Navy Unit Citation, and the World War II Victory Medals.
After his service time, he attended Santa Ana College and the University of Southern California on the G.I. Bill. While attending Santa Ana, he met and married Jacqueline L. Hatfield of Anaheim, Ca. After graduation, he began his 31-year career as an engineer with Douglas Aircraft. He and his growing family moved frequently as his job demanded his experience in a variety of locations. During his first 15 years, he was stationed aboard the USS's Roosevelt, Intrepid, Ranger, and Midway for full-length deployments. Additionally, he was in Bien Hoa Vietnam, Iwakuni Japan, and various US mainland bases.
He married Kiyoko Hayashi in 1962 and moved to Orange Park, Florida. Bob was a Little League coach of his son's teams. His free time also included sailing on the St. John's River on his sailboat, the Charlotte Lee. Prior to his retirement, he was also stationed at Dobbins AFB, NAS New Orleans, NAS Norfolk, NAS Key West, and Andrews AFB.
In retirement, Bob and Kiyo enthusiastically enjoyed snow skiing, fishing, traveling, The Jacksonville Barbershop Chorus, and volunteering at the Jacksonville Zoo. But he especially loved the Orange Park Community Theater. He was an actor, set designer, and construction, twice President of the Theater, but he truly loved directing. Shows that he directed or co-directed include Barefoot in the Park, California Suite, My Fair Lady, the King and I, The Sound of Music, State Fair, Oliver, Mary Poppins, West Side Story, Anything Goes, and Singing in the Rain.
He was preceded in death by his wives Jackie and Kiyo, son Chris, sister and brother in law Patricia and Jack Shedaker. He is survived by his daughter Candace Houston, sons Matthew Houston and Mark Houston, grandson Thomas Houston, stepson Hiroshi, nieces Carol and Charlotte, nephew John and numerous other extended family. Bob would be thrilled for you to contribute to the Orange Park Community Theater in lieu of flowers.
Services will be held at 2 PM Monday, November 23, in the chapel at the Jacksonville Memory Gardens Funeral Home, 111 Blanding Blvd, Orange Park, FL.
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