Robert Louis Gaines, first sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, retired, went home to be with our Lord on May 2, 2015. He suffered from complications of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and heart failure. Bob was born Aug. 14, 1929 in Wayne, Nebraska. He and his sister Sally were raised in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, by their mother Lucille Horn Gaines and Aunt Marie Horn (Ree Ree). Later in life, Bob learned he had four half-sisters with whom he has since met and visited. He attended a Catholic elementary school and public high school in Plattsmouth.
After high school, Robert attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, for one semester. He decided to join the Marine Corps and enlisted on March 3, 1948. He went to boot camp in San Diego, California. His first duty assignment was in Tsingtao, China, as a drummer with the post band. As the Red Chinese Army moved southward, the U.S. military was evacuated and he was sent from China to Hawaii. En route on ship to Hawaii, the Korean War began in June of 1950, and after a short visit home, he was on his way to Korea. He was a corporal with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, during six campaigns, including the Chosin Reservoir, which was one of the fiercest battles during the Korean War. He came home with bullet holes in a flag he had in his backpack, frost bite on his hands and feet, but other than that, unscathed. Other assignments were with the Marine Security Guard in Bonn, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland. Returning to the U.S., he was stationed at Quantico, Virginia, then recruiting duty in Wisconsin, next to Marine Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. Finally, Marine Security Guard at the Embassies in Ethiopia and Jordan. He retired at Camp Pendleton in 1968 as a Marine first sergeant. He met his "baby doll" Carol while on duty in Washington. Carol also served in the Marine Corps, with the rank of captain. They were married in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and just celebrated 50 years of marriage Dec. 26, 2014. Their first child, Lucy, was born in Amman, Jordan. After retiring, and after much research, they moved to Portales, New Mexico, for Bob to complete his education. He graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 1971, with a master's degree in education. While at the university, their second child, Rob, was born. While in the Marine Corps, two spare time activities influenced his future endeavors. He acted and directed plays, and he collected a myriad of items.
With encouragement from ENMU classmate Pat and Becky Beckett (Coas Book Store), Bob, Carol and kids moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and in August 1971, Bob began another career. He became an English, speech and drama teacher at Las Cruces High School, where he ran his classroom with military discipline and precision. He managed to build a melodrama theater at the Southern New Mexico State Fairground, where the theater troupes performed. He built a stage in the theater class room at LCHS. He started a children's theater group called the Las Cruces High School Puppeteers to perform at local elementary schools. He formed the Minstrel Minis to perform for other local organizations. By the time he retired, he and his students were performing 150 shows per semester. He was also well known for the high quality of his students' performances during speech and drama tournaments in southern New Mexico and west Texas. He was Teacher of the Year in 1974. He retired from teaching in 1989.
During his teaching years, he continued to collect … everything. So, while still teaching, he opened his antique store, Sweet Old Bob's ("S.O.B.'s") Antiques, in 1980 on Organ Street off Solano Avenue. He moved the store to 928 W. Picacho in 1986 and has been there ever since. He said of his antique shop, "I never went to work. It was always fun." He loved to "junk" or buy inventory. He loved to sell. He loved anything "neat." He loved items he found that he didn't know what they were. He loved rust. He was show manager for 35 plus years for various antique shows.
Bob was a member of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church for 44 years. He was also a member of the Catholic Serra Club based at the Holy Cross Retreat Center, which supports vocations to the priesthood and religious life. He was a founding member of the El Perro Diablo Detachment, Marine Corps League. He also belonged to China Marines, Fox 2-7 Association, Korean War Veterans Marine Musicians Association, Embassy Guard Association, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He participated in many patriotic activities in the area.
Sweet Old Bob is survived by his wife, Carol, daughter Lucy and her husband, Kurt Rathgeber, and grandchildren Katherine and Kendall of Las Cruces, and son Rob of Austin, Texas.
Please help us celebrate his life with a rosary and an evening of speakers sharing memories on Friday, May 8, 7 p.m. at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, 1327 N. Miranda St. A memorial Mass will take place Saturday at 10 a.m., also at Holy Cross Church, with food and fellowship following in the church gathering space. Burial will take place at Fort Bliss National Cemetery in El Paso, Texas. Please wear Scarlet or Gold, or Red, White and Blue in honor of Bob's military service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Cross Retreat Center, 600 Holy Cross Road 88001 or Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, 3800 Fettler Park Drive, Suite 104, Dumfries, VA 22025 in Bob's name. Bob and his fellow Marines are guarding the streets of Heaven. Semper Fidelis.
If you cannot join us to celebrate Sweet Old Bob's life, both services will be live streamed. Go to holycrosslascruces.org
and click on Live Mass Feed button to watch
Published by Las Cruces Sun-News on May 7, 2015.