Robert Early, of North Buffalo Township, breathed his last February 1 after years of living with Parkinson’s Disease. He was 69.
Bob was born and grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he competed at cross country, swimming and wrestling. He spent summers at a YMCA camp in the Upper Peninsula as a camper and a counselor. In college at Swarthmore, torn between his interests in psychology and in science/math, he took a double major. For graduate work in physics, he chose Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) where he met his wife, Ann. They married the following summer and lived in married student housing while Bob completed his degree.
He then taught physics to sailors who would staff the submarines in the nuclear Navy, first in California, then Florida, where their son Nick was born. After his discharge, Bob earned a master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Central Florida. With jobs scarce, and Bob still eligible for the GI bill, the family returned to Bloomington, where Bob completed another master’s degree in math from Indiana University. He applied for a teaching position advertised for IUP’s Kittanning campus. After his interviews, he was driven around the Kittanning area, where he spotted the neighborhood in which they were to live from then on. Bob enjoyed the camaraderie at the Armstrong Branch. Later his teaching schedule was divided between the main Indiana and the branch campuses, first Kittanning and at Northpointe.
When Nick was a little boy, Bob and Nick enjoyed building complex runways with wooden blocks, playful wrestling without Bob ever overpowering Nick, and battles running around the yard throwing crab apples at each other.
All his life Bob enjoyed outdoor activities, gardening, snorkeling runs down Florida’s cool springs, family activities such as bicycling, canoeing, tent camping, hiking, nature programs at Jennings Environmental Center, swimming, making backyard ice ponds for skating, building snow sculptures and igloos by Bob’s own method, and a nightly jog, rain, snow or cold. He loved dogs, enjoying the companionship of the family Shelties.
For many years Bob attended Pittsburgh Symphony and other concerts and author talks at the Carnegie.
In his late 50s, with no experience, Bob took up the saxophone, first taking lessons, then playing with the Armstrong Concert Band and Kittanning Community Band for several years.
Long interested in depth psychology, Bob attended Jungian talks in Pittsburgh and became an auditor of the Jungian Analyst Training program, with the intention of applying to enter the program. One year after retirement, however, he developed a tremor on one side. In another year, he received the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, continuing in the program until it became too difficult.
Bob had a kind heart, appreciated wry humor but also puns, was reserved and often obstinate, the positive side of which was his insistence on keeping active throughout the course of his disease, with Ann encouraging and seeking out therapeutic resources for him.
He was a hard worker, both around home and in his teaching. Despite the advancing symptoms of Parkinsons, he continued seeking to help with home chores. As a teacher, he strongly believed in the importance of homework and grading it himself. His late-night jog helped him relax. Residents of West Kittanning may have heard his footsteps as he ran through the Boro.
In addition to his parents and parents-in-law, he was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, John, who called him “brother Bob.” He is and will be dearly missed by Ann and Nick.
There will be a simple get-together to remember Bob at Crooked Creek Lake, Justice Pavilion, Saturday, July 24, between 4:30 and 8 PM. In place of flowers, we would find comfort in your sharing your thoughts and memories of Bob and allowing us to share ours with you.
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