Robert E. “Bobby” Gleason of Warwick entered into rest on Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, with his beloved family by his side after a long and courageous fight against Parkinson’s disease. He was 82 years old.
Born on August 8, 1938 in the Lower West Side of Manhattan, he was the son of Thomas W. “Teddy” and Emma Martin Gleason. An immensely proud New Yorker, he attended Xavier High School and Manhattan College, and lovingly referred to New York as a city so nice they named it twice.
Bobby served in the U.S. Army and was stationed with the Transportation Corps in the Panama Canal region.
After active duty, he returned to the West Milford, N.J., area where during one night out for drinks, he and his two friends literally decided to buy the bar; the first of many entrepreneurial adventures, including the infamous Mother’s Discotheque of Greenwood Lake, N.Y.. and Wayne, N.J.
Bobby was the fourth-generation family member to work in the longshoring industry, where he went to work alongside his brother and father at the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO.
Most recently, he served as International Secretary-Treasurer for more than 20 years before he retired in 2012. In total, he devoted more than half a century working for the labor movement, also serving as a Vice President and Executive Board member of the New York State AFL-CIO.
Named after the Irish patriot and orator, Robert Emmet, he was prideful of his Irish roots and an ardent supporter of Irish causes. He loved reading poems of Irish poets and served as a Vice President and Board member of the DC Friends of Ireland.
He served in the role of Governor and Vice President of the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City where he made lifelong friendships.
He was Vice President and a Board of Director at the Warwick Valley Country Club and loved watching the sun go down over the golf course on summer nights.
Bobby had a giant heart and knew and loved everyone. Kind and generous, he was an extraordinary mentor and friend. An incredible storyteller, with a repertoire of jokes and a sharp wit to match, Bobby was always the life of the party but found peace and solitude in poetry, even writing his own poems. Selfless, generous and always willing to help someone in need, he made good on his every promise and left this world a better and happier place.
Most of all, Bobby relished the simple pleasures in life: a hot dog, breakfast out with his best friends, Dunkin Donuts, a good joke and a Southern Comfort Manhattan come 5 p.m. anywhere.
His family was the center of his universe and him theirs, including his beloved wife of more than 46 years, Judith, his adored daughters Lauren and Erin and many, many lucky Gleason dogs who were often treated to car rides around Greenwood Lake complete with ice cream.
Bobby appreciated every day given to him and showered his family with so much love, care and devotion that continues to surround and uplift them after his passing.
He is survived by his loving wife, Judith (Baird) of Warwick; and his devoted daughters Lauren and Erin, both of Washington, D.C., brother-in-law John S. Baird Jr. and his wife Marsha, and sister-in-law Marcia B. VanDerBeek and her husband William, as well as many nieces and nephews and dear friends. He was predeceased by his brothers Thomas W. Gleason Jr. and John J. Gleason.
A memorial visitation was held Sept. 10 and 11 at Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 17 Oakland Ave., Warwick.
Burial will be private.
A celebration of life for friends and family will be held at a later date, due to current COVID restrictions.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his honor to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, to continue the push for much needed research and a cure to end the devastation of Parkinson’s disease. Bobby also never met a dog, or any animal for that matter, that he didn’t love, and as such, donations are also welcome in his honor to the Warwick Valley Humane Society, which was a special place to him.
For further information or to send an online condolence, visit lsvpmemorialhome.com.