Robert M. Bender 85, Lititz Moravian member, loved athletics, local history, genealogy

By on March 26, 2014

He would have put it, in a phrase familiar to locals of his vintage, Robert M. Bender “went dead” on March 22, 2014. He was 85.

Born to Dr. John Richard and Ruth (Meiskey) Bender of Lititz, Robert Meiskey Bender was the youngest among siblings John, Marion (Kutz), and Ruth (Todd), all of whom predeceased him.

Bob, “Joe” to many, a moniker from a favorite baseball star, Joe Medwick, lived his entire life in and around Lititz. He was a schoolboy athlete at Lititz High, lettering in baseball, basketball and football, while also finding time for song, the clarinet, stage, academics . . . and antics.

Upon graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to marry Jean (Hanna). He worked for her father’s awning and flooring company before beginning the management career from which he retired, at Raybestos Manhattan of Manheim.

As Bob and Jean started their family in Lititz, he acquired and began clearing a hilltop north of the Village of Brunnerville with views overlooking the BrubakerValley and a backdrop of the Blue Mountains where he camped and fished the Segloch Run. By the mid-60s, they had built their dream house there.

Over the years they hosted corn roasts and canning parties, Thanksgiving gatherings, sporting events of all sorts (the baseball diamond featuring a too-large-to-move, sunken, quartz boulder as home plate and the horseshoe pits blue clay from a secret spot along the Hammer “Crick”), and a menagerie of pets both domestic and wild. His Easter Rabbit didn’t just hide eggs and candy, but also presented clues on their whereabouts. “Offends the nose, comforts the toes,” might guide seeker to sneaker.

Bob and Jean shared an interest in horticulture, with the vegetable garden and small orchard complemented by gardens and borders of ornamental shrubs and flowers, as well as herbs, native wildflowers, ferns and groundcovers. After Jean’s too soon passing in 1998, he remained, tending the grounds until his death.

Bob enjoyed hard work and those that did it well; sporting events of all manner and the athletes who pursued them with skill and, in particular, dedication and tenacity &tstr; along with his newspaper, a good book, a clever lyric, jazz both vocal and instrumental, traditional Moravian hymns, reasoned debate (favoring the progressive), and a quick wit &tstr;sharper, better.

He had a great interest in local history and places, given root by his parents and from traveling with his father, of a long line of veterinarians, visiting farms and hamlets across LancasterCounty. His children learned that many middle-of-field-and-wood crossroads weren’t just intersections, but had names associated with early inhabitants and events.

Building on work begun by his father, Bob compiled the family’s extended genealogy, leaving an impressive body of work gleaned from official and obscure archival records &tstr; and often verified by visits to church graveyards and cemeteries found in pastures, fields, and hedgerows.

Bob loved his family –  and they him. He is survived by a daughter: Jessica, wife of Grant Krow of Philadelphia; three sons: Joseph, husband of Ellen, of Potomac, Md.; Dan, husband of Adessa, of Lititz, and Andrew, husband of Mary, of Harrisburg; seven grandchildren: Ethan, Erin, Scott, Ted, Adair, Nina and Tony, and three great-grandchildren: Aidan, Ashlyn and Briella.


A lifelong member of the Lititz Moravian Congregation, his ashes will reside in that church’s historic God’s Acre, where he will join the rows of “girls and boys” including Jean, his family and many friends.


The family welcomes friends who wish to pay respects and share memories on Friday, March 28, at 10:30 a.m. to the Brethren House’s Eshbach Parlor on Moravian Church Square, Lititz. A funeral service will follow at 11:30 in the adjacent sanctuary, with burial immediately thereafter. Family and friends are welcome to attend as they please. A luncheon will be offered in the lower level of the Brethren House.


Those wishing to make contributions in memory of Bob may do so to the Book of Remembrance, Lititz Moravian Congregation, 8 Church Square, Lititz, PA17543.


To send the family on-line condolences, visit Arrangements entrusted to Buch Funeral Home, Manheim.



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