Robert Conger Bender
Published in Naples Daily News on March 28, 2012
Bob teed off on the back nine at 8:55 Saturday morning, March 24, 2012, sur rounded by a crowd of adoring fans comprised of family. And though dementia stole much from him, it will never diminish our beautiful memories.
He was born on April 14, 1936 in Peninsula, OH to Henry G. and Elizabeth Conger Bender.
His childhood was divided between Peninsula and St. Petersburg, FL, where his fondest memories as a young boy were of taking the trolley across town to watch the professional players who came for spring training and to collect autographs, the most recognizable of which was Connie Mack.
He attended Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH (class of 1954) where he made the varsity baseball team his freshman year and batted 400. He went on to be team captain and to play football. He was the recipient of the Head Master's Award his senior year.
Bob was a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT (class of 1958) where he also served as captain of the baseball team. He was actually in line for graduation wearing his cap and gown when he was signed to play for the Pittsburg Pirates. He played in the Northern League. He also completed Business Courses at Northwestern University and at Harvard.
He returned to Ohio to continue his career at Bender-Loudon Motor Freight, a multi-state trucking company co-founded by his father, Henry and Clair Loudon in 1933 where his first job during high school had been on the loading docks. He advanced through the ranks to become CEO, but his love of people and his affable personality kept him in on going contact with his customers; he was a salesman at heart.
On a sunny day in Northern Michigan, he and Donna Reycraft were married August 3, 1963.
Bob's love of family came first, but his love of sports was a very close second. He enjoyed skiing out west with family and friends. He got his pilot's license as a young man and though he flew briefly never lost his fascination with airplanes. Even at the end, if there were a plane in the sky, he saw it. Golf, however trumped everything else; it was his passion. He golfed often and well. He was lucky enough to play many storied golf courses and to count Byron Nelson among his friends. His club memberships included Portage County Club (where he was a Past President), Firestone County Club, and Sharon Golf Club in Akron, Old Florida Golf Club in Naples and Walloon Lake Country Club in Petoskey, MI.
His business associations included the American Trucking Association, Common Carriers Conference, The Guilde of American Transportation Specialists (GOATS) and numerous Traffic Clubs. He was a contributing member of YPO/WPO Cleveland for 36 years and of the Mayflower Club.
Bob was engaging and fun to be with; he was intuitive, insightful, generous, thoughtful, and honest to the core. He will be missed by many. He enthusiastically supported Western Reserve Academy where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1977 to 1993 until the last of his four children who attended graduated.
He is survived by his wife Donna, his four children, Tracy Bender Wiesner (Jerry Wiesner, Owen and Jack), Henry G. Bender II, Victoria C. Bender, and Maj. Robert C. Bender (Charles); sisters, Jean Bender Preston, and Gail Bender McLean; sister-inlaw, Cameron Reycraft O'Keefe; and eight nieces and nephews.
Should anyone wish to remember him, he would have been pleased to have donations sent to WRA (Western Reserve Academy), The Office of Alumni and Development, 115 College Street, Hudson, OH 44236.