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Shared by Rod Cramp on 2nd September 2013

"Good morning Robert. At last spring has arrived with a flourish of colour and freshness after a long, wet, Wagga Wagga winter. This e-mail is being sent from home instead of my office as I have finally retired. Yes, I know it's about time you say! This mornings news has the European economy improving, at least the northern part, and China too. Our All Ord's is nearing 5,200 - a five year high - and there is a lot more green than red on my watch list. Our Reserve bank meets today but the expectation is that our benchmark rate will  stay at 2.50% especially given we go to the polls on Saturday to rid ourselves of Kevin Rudd. With a new government and renewed consumer confidence it is hoped, especially from a retiree's perspective, that further rate cuts will not be necessary. I see that my beloved METS failed to sweep the Nat's as they struggle to finish the year on a positive note. Let me know what you think about your mate's decision to 'flick the ball' to congress re Syria? I had better go. I think Hezz has jobs lined up for me. Retirement! Yea! Give my love to Rita and Bobby." 

Sadly, I know I will not get a response from my mate. But if I did, it would have been prompt, insightful, warm and witty. Since our return to Oz in 1986, Bob was the 'penfriend' I never had as a youngster. I greatly miss this contact.

In some ways, Bob was the 'big' brother I never had. I 'looked up' to him; enjoyed his missives; his trips to Oz; his interaction with my adult children and my grandchildren; his beautiful reflection of my only son, Peter; his pronunciation of 'gidday mate'; his dismissal of a handshake for a bear hug; sharing a cold beer whether it be a VB or a Bud; his choice of Italian restaurants; his Spanish; and his overwhelming generosity. I admit to not enjoying (the next morning) our sharing of a bottle of JD and a cigar.

Bob you are and will remain a good mate.
 

Bob in the 1950s

Shared by Wesley Wittich on 3rd August 2013

For those of you who only knew Bob as an adult you would easily recognize him as a youth.   Bob was a happy and confident boy, and if he wasn’t outright leading an activity, he was always involved in the leadership.  Summertime was the best.  I remember endless games of punchball, stickball, stoopball, skelzies, “Johnny on the pony”, ringolevio, and kick the can.  Bob always made sure I was included.  Of course, the touch football games in City Park were classic, as were the two full tackle football games he set up between the boys from St. James and St. Augustine in Memorial Park.  Most of us only had helmets and the hits were brutal, but so much fun.

I distinctly remember the happiness of being rewarded by Bob with an ice-cold Hires root beer after helping him with his extensive paper route one hot summer afternoon, and the excitement as he introduced me to his hideout in a subway tunnel which we accessed by scaling the granite abutment of the Manhattan Bridge on the corner of Sand and Jay streets and squeezing through some pulled back fencing under the walkway.  Bob was adventurous and courageous.  He was everything you wanted in a big brother

Submitted for Andrew Hirschhorn

Shared by Doris Hirschhorn on 1st August 2013

With the image of his smirk accompanied by a laugh frozen in my memory, it’s hard to imagine that this same person could be so intimidating to me as a child.  “Mr. Wittich” was that big scary guy… you know that one adult you remember as a kid that for some reason instilled you with a certain fear.  But I’ll never forget the time when the big scary guy delivered one of the all-time classic lines to end the Little League baseball game for the ages.

            With seven different pitchers, a marathon of walks, and darkness threatening to end a game that lasted so long nobody knew which team was winning; Geoff Berman threw the infamous pitch that would turn a semi-comatose crowd into frenzy.  In an instant, umpire Bob Wittich was given the not so good fortune of being at the center of the biggest controversy in the history of the Larchmont Little League.  Long story short, the pitch bounced before it reached home plate and the batter somehow managed to make contact and get a hit, seemingly defying the laws of physics.  Nobody had ever seen this before… a pitch being hit on a bounce.  Is it live? Should the kid run to first base? Is it a do over?  Faster than you can grab your cell phone, the familiar roar when someone gets a hit was heard throughout and what ensued was a 10-minute display of everything that is wrong with youth sports… parents on the field screaming at each other, fingers pointing. There was yelling, shouting, flailing arms, altercation, and total pandemonium… all while innocent nine-years-olds stood dumfounded.  Soon order was restored and the game ended prematurely on account of general ridiculousness. 

            During the proverbial insincere hand shake, the once silent Little Leaguers began to argue with one another while exhausted emotionless parents methodically began packing up for the night.  “No, we won,” said one child. “No we did, it was 8 to 7,” said another.  “No it was 7 to 6, we won,” added a third child.  As the volume of voices escalated with more kids from each team joining the debate, a new altercation began to emerge.  It was then that a stern, commanding, loud voice came over the Little Leaguers from the big scary Mr. Wittich that silenced all.  “Hey stop that right now… you guys are old enough to know not to act like your parents!”  A line that cut the tension completely and belongs in the Henny Youngman Hall of Fame. I can still hear the laughs from all the adults in the background.  Mr. Wittich, your sense of humor will be missed! 

--Andrew Hirschhorn

Memories of Bob

Shared by Emily Denesha on 21st July 2013

 

When I first met Bob in 1980, I had moved to Larchmont with my husband, Paul, and my two boys.  Bob and Rita and Bobby lived right across the street.  Our boys were similar ages, which made for an easy way to make friends.  Bob was such a friendly and welcoming neighbor.  He was so active in kids sports and community activities.  If you ever wanted to know something, Bob knew it, or he could find out anything I ever asked about.

 

So began a friendship that has continued over 33 years.  Bob has been there for me countless times in good time and bad.  He has been a friend, like a brother, a legal advisor, a real estate agent (when we moved from 12 to 15 Kilmer Road), and just like a family member to both my parents (who loved him dearly) and my grand children (who call him FANTASTICO Bob). 

 

Before I married my second husband, Bob had to approve of the “guy I was going to marry!”  And then, after I got approval to marry Mike, Bob and Rita have gone on countless adventures with us to Italy, Puerto Vallarta, US Open tennis matches, Ravinia, and have worn paths yearly between Wilmette – Larchmont – and Palm Beach Gardens.

 

Bob was never further than a phone call away.  He was never too busy to talk or Skype.  He always bounced back from health setbacks with good humor and a positive attitude.  His capacity for loving others was boundless and deep.  His family meant everything to him, but he also made his friends feel like family.  I guess that happens when you come from such a large family.  Your capacity for loving isn’t diminished, but abounds.

 

It is difficult to know how I will ever be able to fill the void that Bob has left in my/our lives.  But Bob’s spirit and selflessness will continue on, even in the absence of his body.  His generous friendship should be a model for everyone.  So in his memory we all should reach out and pay his spirit forward.   That is a way for us all to honor his memory.

Email from our Barcelona friends

Shared by Jim Wittich on 21st July 2013

Nora and I made wonderful friends in Barcelona where we lived for a while. I just received an email from Adelardo Cespedes that I would like to share with you.
 
Thank you very much to call some days ago. We ask my mother, but she doesn´t remember so much, and probably she was alone at home.

We hope you feel a little better after the difficult moment of your brother Robert's death. You cannot imagine how many time I have translate the obituary you send us to my familly... All the familly of Gloria, my mother, brothers, Alba, friends who came from France to visit us this week-end here in La Seu d'Urgell... Really... What a Great Man !

I think it has been a chance to have a brother, and a person like him, Jim, but I understain also the pain to lose him, for you and for all the people who knows him. Of course, we have all his legacy, his walk in the life giving us his beautifull exemple... But... 67 years old!... Too young to leave us!

We didn't know about him previosly, but be sure, he is now in our hearts and in our prayers. To his wife, to his childrens and to all you, receive our sinceres condolences.  

I will stay all next  week in the hospital in Barcelona. (Five days Chemo, for the third time program). I feel OK, thanks God ! But today is not the day to talk about me...  

We are with you !   Ever with love : Glória, Alba and Adelardo. 

Shared by Dan Varona on 17th July 2013

Bob, with freckles and a cow lick, and I met, almost 60 yrs ago, in grammar school, St. James Parochial, and then went together to Brooklyn Prep.  He always had the highest grades; never was in trouble, never had fights or bloody noses, always knew to stay away from the bad girls; and always had a ready smile and a great sense of humor – early testaments to his common sense, intelligence, and good nature. Although he seemed to be straight out of Mayberry, he had acute Brooklyn sensibilities. At Prep his Greek and Latin translations were always correct. He knew that Clavicus Piney made a dramatic speech in the Roman Senate whereas my absurd translation was that Clavicus’ heiney made a dramatic sound in the Roman baths. When he told me his heart and mind had been chemically altered by a Chem Major in Mexico and then afterwards that he was getting married, I thought, “Gosh, he’s become a grown-up.” At that time he was also encouraging me to put away my Schwinn bicycle. Years later he further honed his people skills as an occasional bartender at a downtown, Brooklyn dive… a shot of whiskey maybe 85 cents. After my military time we had a long chat at that bar about the theory of law in a lawless society. That was one of the factors in my also going to law school and putting in almost 40 yrs. In hindsight, I should instead  have had conversation with Rita about the joys of the Periodic Tables. We reconnected during the process planning for our Prep Class’ 50th Reunion as if no time had passed. We communicated thereafter almost every day by that thing called Internet e mail, regaling ourselves with stories and photos. Four Prep couples had a long, fantastically enjoyable brunch at Bear Mountain not too long ago and I believe I generally kept my promise to him beforehand not to tell too many of the early Robert stories in front of Rita. We had so, so much more to talk about. Now I need to wait a bit before we resume. Hopefully, they have e mail from down there to up where he is. My last emotions with him – I smuggled in a can of beer and two slices of pizza when I visited him in the hospital. He declined the beer!  And, as my visit to him was ending, he asked me for a hug…the last one being perhaps 60 yrs ago. I’m glad I leaned over the bed railings to do so. I believe we both had a premonition. As another Prepster recently said, it was a beautiful way to say goodbye for now.

Flowers and Contributions:

Shared by Rita Wittich on 17th July 2013

As many of you know, Bob’s greatest concern was the security of his son’s future. He loved Bob Jr. very much and this weighed heavily on him in his final days. I have begun inquiries into setting up a trust for Bob Jr. so that I can continue to work towards that goal. 

In keeping with Bob’s request that, in lieu of sending flowers or making donations in his name, anyone that wished to do so could make a contribution to help with Bobby’s future. I am grateful that so many have openly expressed a desire to help. 

Since I will only be leaving New York soon, please send any contributions to my brother-in-law’s business address and he will forward to me:

Make checks payable to: Rita A. WittichMail to: N&J Wittich, Inc., 136 East 55th Street, #7R, New York, NY 10022

NY Gathering for Bob

Shared by Rita Wittich on 17th July 2013

Gathering:

I am planning a local gathering in NY to give some of us a chance to reconnect and to celebrate Bob’s life. Everyone is welcome, but please know that I do not expect everyone to attend and certainly do not expect anyone to travel long distances for this gathering.

This will be an opportunity to meet with local family and friends while I am in New York and I will be sure to reach out to all of my family and friends in the near future. I expect to be returning home in a few months and look forward to seeing everyone to Florida when I return.

The gathering will be held at:

Palmer’s Crossing located at: 1957 Palmer Avenue, Larchmont, NY 10538.

Date: Sunday, August 4, 2013

Time: 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM

I think this allow enough time to greet everyone yet offer flexibility for those who can make only a brief visit. There will be an opportunity at around 2:30 PM for anyone who wishes to speak openly about Bob; to honor him and share memories.

A buffet lunch will be served and a cash bar will be open.

Palmer’s Crossing is within walking distance of Metro North – Larchmont and Interstate 95 exits are nearby. There is usually street parking available on Sunday plus there is a parking lot behind the restaurant.

I do have family coming from out-of-town. The Marriott and the Radisson Hotels are closest and are located just 5 minutes away in New Rochelle. The next nearest location for hotels is Rye, NY which is north of Larchmont along Interstate 95. Please check the web sites and let me know if we can help with reservations.

 I would greatly appreciate having an idea of the number of people planning to attend and ask that you send an email to: norajimnyc@gmail.com and let me know how many are in your group.

A Gentle Giant

Shared by Linda Wittich on 15th July 2013

    He was the quintessential Renaissance Man:  informed and informative, wise and funny; a gifted raconteur, a skilled dancer, a gracious host, and a chef extraordinaire.   Bob Wittich was a big man with a booming voice and a BIG heart and his passing has left a huge void in our lives. 

     I will try to fill that vacuum with happy memories of the Big Guy living large;  whether he was smashing a lefty serve on the tennis court,  recounting family tales and travel experiences over a glass of wine on the lanai, or blissfully floating in his pool for hours, Bob was a happy man who loved his family.  May we all find some of the peace, contentment and smiles that these activities brought him by recalling the good times we had together.

who goes first?

Shared by Heather Cramp on 14th July 2013

The very brave men in the group were going for a swim at Hawks Nest Beach in May.  As I recall no one got wet.

Moving House Down Under

Shared by Stacey Wilson on 14th July 2013

On their last visit Down Under, The Wittich Trio chose to spend their last day in Australia helping us move into our new home. It was our first home and we were so proud and so eager to move in. It was a miserable, wet winter's day but we filled up our car and the Wittich's filled up their rental and we unpacked the first of many boxes. As if that wasn't generous enough, Bob Senior then helped Scott pull up the 30 year old carpet. I think this might be a record for going out of your way (like halfway around the world) to help someone move house.

Bear Mountain get together

Shared by Nate Marciano on 13th July 2013

After the wonderful 50th anniversary of our graduation from Brooklyn Prep a few of us decided to get together to keep the fun going and to meet each others wives. We then met at the Bear Mountain Inn in the summer of 2012. We had great fun renewing old acquaintances. Pictured are Dan and Camille Verona, Nate and Jeanette Marciano, Dr. Tony and Camille Mastellone, Bob and Rita Wittich

Dive Bomb

Shared by Jim Wittich on 13th July 2013

Oldest brother Bob always seemed to be the one who got me and my next oldest brother, Wes, into mischief yet somehow never he seemed to be the one who got in trouble - destined to be a lawyer/politician I guess. But not the night of the "dive bomb"! He slept in the upper bunk and Wes below. One night, I slept in with Wes - maybe I was 5 or so. Bob kept hanging over each end of the bunk bed making scarry noises to frighten me in the dark - and was succeeding. This went on forever and I could not get to sleep and finally Wes came to my defense and told Bob to knock it off. Of course, he could not help him self, and crawled to the other end of the bed to hang over for a final scare. Below was this fantastic metal aircraft carrier, a Navy gift from our Dad. It seemed to be bigger than me. You can guess what happened. Just as I was dozing off there was this tremendous crash - Bob slipped and dove head first into the aircraft carrier Talk about being scared - what a noise! Wes and I awoke in a panic to find Bob crumpled on top of the now destroyed ship. His hard head saved him and he escaped with just some nasty bruises. Somehow he bever got in trouble - Mom though poor Bob had fallen out of bed while fast asleep. Wes and I lost the best toy we ever had!

Bob in Australia

Shared by Heather Cramp on 12th July 2013

Bob made many visits to Australia with Rita and Bobby but no Wilma, therefore, I took over the laundry chores. I would put out a call for "white load going in" and Bob would come to the laundry with an armfull of Y fronts. He was mortified to find his "2 peg Y fronts" flapping in the breeze on our rotary clothes hoist in full view of all the neighbourhood. I assured him they would be returned to him none the worse for wear and smelling of great Ozzie sunshine.
And, who else but Bob would dress up in a full chef's outfit to cook an amazing meal complete with margueritas under the laneii in Florida. 

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