Cover photo for Robert Lee Hartley's Obituary
Robert Lee Hartley Profile Photo
1944 Robert 2021

Robert Lee Hartley

October 9, 1944 — December 28, 2021

Robert Lee Hartley was born on October 9, 1944, in Chicago, Illinois, to Kenneth Frank Hartley and Dorothy Lee Moore Hartley. On Tuesday, December 28, 2021, surrounded by family, he passed peacefully from this life into the eternal one with his Lord and Savior. Bob grew up in Chicago; Hammond, Indiana; and Ohio. He graduated from Hammond High School in 1963. After graduation, he joined many of his male classmates as laborers in the Chicago steel mills. In 1965 he received his draft notice from the United States Army. After training, he left for his first tour of duty in Vietnam. As a member of the 225th Surveillance Airplane Company, Bob operated radar and infrared equipment on aerial surveillance missions. His base camp was Tuy Hoa. Discharged in 1967, Bob returned to the steel mills of Chicago. In 1968, Bob made the decision to reenlist in the Army, knowing that meant Vietnam again. At that time, the military needed pilots and waived the requirement for a college degree if aptitude scores were high. Bob qualified. He completed Aviation Warrant Officer flight training. This tour in Vietnam he was based at Bien Hoa Air Base, attached to the 190th Assault Helicopter Company. Most of the time, Bob chose not to wear his flak jacket, which pilots referred to as a chicken plates. One morning, he felt an intense need to wear this protection vest. That day he received a shocking blow to his chest, and his Huey was shot down onto a rice paddy. Listening to what he later attributed to be a warning from God, his life was saved by his chicken plate. He was discharged with the rank of 1st Lieutenant. Returning home to Indiana, Bob enrolled in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Attending school year-round, he completed his Aeronautical Science degree in two and one-half years. While at Embry-Riddle, Bob was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. After graduation, Bob worked for a year at Johnson and Johnson in Wilmington, Illinois, as a production supervisor. In 1976, he headed for California, hoping to find an engineering career. On the way, he stopped and visited a college fraternity brother living in Oklahoma City. Learning of an opening for a pilot in the Army Reserves based at Westheimer Field in Norman, Bob decided to apply for the slot and subsequently joined other week-end warrior pilots supporting the General. This move led to Bob establishing a permanent home in Oklahoma. Years later, when the unit was moved to Arkansas, Bob then changed to the 95th Division Army Reserve Command location in Shawnee, serving as the Executive Officer. He retired as a Major in December 1992, having accumulated over 3000 flying hours in utility and cargo airplanes and helicopters. In 1976, Bob was hired as a project engineer at Worthington Vertical Pump Division of Studebaker Worthington Corp. in Shawnee. Beginning his employment there, he enrolled in additional engineering courses at OU, receiving a degree in aerospace engineering. He served as a Design, Test, Senor Test, and finally as the Resident Engineer for the plant. When Worthington closed its Shawnee manufacturing plant in 1985, Bob was able to take some full-time advanced aviation training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. While there, he learned of an opening at Tinker Air Force Base and returned home. He was hired at Tinker in April 1986 as an Aerospace Engineer in the Acquisition Division of the Material Management Directorate, later the Contract Logistics Support Division. In Sept. 1991 Bob was promoted to a Supervisory Aerospace Engineer position in the Technology and Industrial Support Directorate, now the Engineering Directorate. During his employment at Tinker, Bob served as the Chief structural engineer for the Presidential fleet, Air Force One. In 1979 Bob met Judy Ann Lowry, an officer at a Shawnee bank. It wasn’t long before the two knew Bob came to Oklahoma for a reason. After a two-year romance, Bob decided to give up his 36 years of bachelorhood. Bob and Judy were married June 27, 1981. On July 6, 1982, a daughter, Malinda Allyson, was born. He raised Judy’s young daughter and son as his own, with love and generosity. Bob and Judy lived together happily for 40 years. Bob was an expert model railroader. He changed out the hobby store box kits using more realistic parts, weathering and detailing each model to look exactly like the original he was recreating. He loved old country music and sometimes drove his truck around alone for a couple of hours listening to Don Williams, Merle Haggard, and Hank Williams, as he knew country was not a favorite of Judy. Raised by parents who believed in God but did not attend church, Bob was an agnostic. However, he loved history. Knowing this, his good friend, Brad Mosman, invited Bob to attend a New Testament History course offered at the Catholic Archdiocese Center in Oklahoma City in conjunction with Kansas-Newman University in Wichita. Bob liked this class so well that he continued taking courses, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministry, although he was not a Christian. Some time later, though, Bob knew what he needed to do. He talked with Fr. Michael Roethler at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Shawnee and was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic church. He joined Dr. Marvin Ellis in teaching Religious Education to 7th graders and taught a number of other classes at St. Benedict’s. He also taught at St. Gregory’s University. Bob was a devoted husband, father, and Christian. He lived the motto of God, Family, and Country. Bob was preceded in death by his father, Kenneth Frank Hartley, his mother, Dorothy Lee Moore Hartley, and his sister, Linda Hartley Claunch. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Judy Lowry Hartley of the home; his daughter, Malinda Allyson Hartley Hart and husband, Johndale Hart of Pagosa Springs, CO; his daughter, Marlene Alexandria Thomas Isaacs and husband, Steven Isaacs of Tulsa; and his son, Matthew Lowry Thomas of Denver, CO; his grandchildren, Kinley Page Hart, Adelyn Faye Hart, and Robert Breck Hart of Pagosa Springs, CO; his sister, Christine Hartley Fritz and husband, Jim Fritz of Lake Village, Indiana; and nephew, James Fritz of Indianapolis, Indiana; brother, Steven Hartley and wife, Brynn Hartley of Erie, CO; niece, Jennifer Claunch Meyers, Milwaukee, WI; and nephew Christopher Claunch. The family wishes to gratefully acknowledge the loving assistance of Heartland Hospice Nurse, Patti Norris, who gave care generously to Bob and the family during his time with Heartland Hospice. A Celebration of Bob's Life will be held on Saturday, January 1, 2022 at 11:00 am at the Walker Funeral Chapel. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 2:00 pm at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Shawnee. Following the Mass, Bob will be laid to rest at Calvary Cemetery with military honors provided by the United States Army.
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Walker Funeral & Cremation Service

201 E 45th St, Shawnee, OK 74804

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201 E 45th St, Shawnee, OK 74804

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632 N Kickapoo Ave, Shawnee, OK 74801

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13602 Coker Rd, Shawnee, OK 74804

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