Farewell Mr. Bob

By Lynn Lietzen

On Wednesday, March 20, through tear-filled smiles, the children’s choirs sang a blessing of peace as they bid farewell to a beloved friend of 23 years. “Go now in peace, go now in peace, may the love of God surround you everywhere, everywhere you may go.”

Bob Rothe, lovingly known by the children as “Mr. Bob," will be moving to sunny California to join his wife, Rama, daughter, Tara, and dachshund, Beezy, just as soon as his doctors clear him to travel. (Bob underwent quintuple bypass surgery on Wednesday, April 3, at Good Samaritan in Downers Grove.) So, by the time you’re reading this, Bob will most likely be recouping in the California sunshine. (Best medicine ever!)

Starting his volunteer ministry as a choir parent back in 1996 with Eva Gouge’s Cherub Choir, Bob has continued to faithfully serve the children’s choirs well past his years as an actual parent. He has assisted with everything from greeting the choristers to sitting with the choirs in worship on the Sundays they would sing.

But Bob goes above and beyond not just Wednesdays and Sundays, but has given generously of his time as a driver for our annual caroling outings, as a bib-overalls-wearing chaperone for our annual hayride party, as a volunteer packing side-by-side with our choristers for the Feed the Need Mobile Pack, and as the leader of the wagon-brigade for the collection of the annual Noisy Offering each November. He has also cheerfully slept on the floor of the choir room for all 12 of our annual Lock-Ins as we kicked off the start of the musical season. 

The list of all his many acts of generosity as a volunteer will never be fully known, but his greatest gift was as a “Smile Ambassador” to every kid who was ever fortunate enough to have been the recipient of his grace and love. He was great at making the kids feel welcomed and important. Current Junior Singer, Josephine Zaccaria, says, “Mr. Bob is special because at first when I was in 4th grade, he was the only one I would talk to. I was shy and he would understand me. I have learned so much from him such as to always run instead of walk!” 

Bob’s day-job as a teaching assistant at Hinsdale Central HS gave him an immediate understanding and connection with our kids. He always knew just how to make them laugh and feel included. He served with humor, generosity, acceptance, caring, but most of all with love. He was a gentle male presence who willingly served just under the radar doing justice, and loving kindness, and walking humbly with his God. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for his years of service, and we wish him many happy and healthy years in California! 

We will be celebrating Mr. Bob’s ministry at our Year-End Celebration on Friday, May 10, just after our 6:30 p.m. musical presentation. All are welcome to join in the celebration!  If you’d like to share your gratitude and best wishes, but can’t make the celebration, plese contact Lynn Lietzen (lynn.leitzen@peopleofgrace.org) for his new adddress so you can drop him a note.