Frederick Funeral Home assisted the family
Robert L. Headlee, of Cincinnati, died Aug. 28, 2020 after a short illness. He was 95. The dear son of the late Paul and Rowena Headlee, he grew up in Michigan with his beloved baby brother, Bruce (recently deceased), a professional musician, composer and teacher. They lived a Huckleberry Finn childhood with capers and hi-jinks but nothing too serious or prosecutable at least.
When World War II erupted, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he fought in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters. His Liberty ship, the USS Schmeltzer, dodged enemy parachute bombs. He and his crew rescued a starving Italian orphan by smuggling the child aboard the ship to feed him when they were moored off the bombed-out Italy. Afterward, he became a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
After his honorable discharge, he moved to the Midwest to work as an engineer for General Electric. His wife, Alison, did not want to go to a strange city, leaving her family behind, and for more than a week refused to leave Massachusetts. It was the first and only crisis of their marriage. Finally, she joined him and in Cincinnati they raised five girls.
His first grandson, Rob, christened him “Pocky,” a name he embraced with typical enthusiasm. Every grandchild and great-grandchild and even many strangers he would meet knew him by that name.
The life of any party, he always opened his home and life to people for holidays. Co-workers, some whose families were far away, appreciated a home-cooked meal and the laughter he brought to every dinner table. He and his wife hosted family dinners in banquet halls that were the social highlight of the year for the extended family. He presided over the affairs, giving toasts and telling stories that made everyone laugh and sometimes cry.
He was the unquestioned leader of an extended family that includes 16 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and close friends. He and his beloved wife were natural-born storytellers, recounting tales of their hardscrabble childhoods, the Great Depression and early married life with vivid detail and humor. Always humor.
And when his wife got sick, he was by her side always to care for her. In one memorable caper, he declared he was “breaking her out” and removed her from the hospital without notice. He was prepared to dodge the police roadblocks he imagined to give her one last night of normalcy in the face of a horrible, mind-robbing disease. Years later, he was lucky to kindle a new romance with his lifelong friend, Alma, who was patient when he was curmudgeonly.
For his friends, he was always ready with a joke. For his family, he offered a sympathetic ear, a fount of wisdom and sometimes a kick in the pants. He would sit us down and lecture us and we knew better than to argue. But always, he was ready to cheer achievements and console defeats. He was smart, so smart, but also wise. We were better for the experience.
He was the much beloved husband of his late wife, Alison, much loved and cherished father of five daughters Virginia “Ginny” (late Michael) Miller, Linda (John) Cloud, Susan (Terry) Moeller, Sandra (William) Heckel and Alison (Mark) Whitaker. “Pocky” will be severely missed by 16 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, many nieces, nephews and his close friends. Visitation at Frederick Funeral Home, 2553 Banning Rd., Saturday, Sept. 5 from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the service will be restricted to family members, however the graveside service is open to anyone wishing to attend at 2 p.m. at Arlington Memorial Gardens, 2145 Compton Road. The procession will leave the funeral home at 1:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Salvation Army, 6381 Center Hill Ave., Cincinnati 45232 or the American Lung Association, 4050 Executive Park Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45241. Special condolences may be expressed at www.frederickfh.com. Masks will be required.