YNC Robert (Bob) LaVern Vernon, USN (Ret)

SIERRA VISTA — August 30, 1941 – March 6, 2021 prior to his passing, Bob decided to write his own obituary, to be finalized by his family. He was fiercely proud of his military service and of his family. He will forever be remembered as the epitome of a good man.

My journey on God’s planet Earth started on 30 August 1941. After 79 years of life, I was overcome by multiple cancers due to exposure to Agent Orange, so God came down and told me it was time to come on home.

I was born in a small rural town of Crab Orchard, Nebraska, to Violet and Virgil, the third boy in a family that would, over the next few years, become seven boys and one extraordinary sister. Mom and Dad resided in this rural community after I was born for one year and then moved to Crete, Nebraska, where they would remain for the rest of their lives. I would leave on October 7, 1958 to start a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy. This would also mark the first time that I had stepped outside the state of Nebraska.

While in high school, I was a part of several sports teams, including a championship football team my freshman year. I also had the opportunity to line up opposite the great Dick Butkus during an exhibition game. I lettered all four years. There are also whispers that I still may hold a few records there, but apparently they do not keep records that far back.

I went to boot camp at NTC San Diego and after my graduation, duty assignments would take me to several parts of the world: NAS Sand Point, Seattle, Washington: USS PROVIDENCE (CLG-6), Admin Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, COMSEVENTHFLT Staff onboard the USS Oklahoma City (CLG-7) (homeported out of Yokosuka, Japan), River Division 53, My Tho, Viet-Nam where I would volunteer for 20 combat river patrols on the River Patrol Boats (PBRs), USS MCCANDLISS (FF-1084); USS WILLIAM M. WOOD (DD-715); NAVFAC Grand Turk, TWI, AIRTEVRON ONE Patuxent River, Maryland, USS BOWEN (FF-1079), and finally PERSUPPDET Patuxent River, Maryland, where I retired after 24 years of service. I then served for five years with the Civil Service at Patuxent River and two years with the St. Mary’s County Health Department.

When I was stationed at Patuxent River, Maryland, I met and married Rosemary Anne (Feeney) Molnar on March 18, 1978 and she turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. Anne and I moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona, arriving on my birthday, August 30, 1992. Even with the hot climate, we enjoyed the scenery and being surrounded by various mountain ranges.

Anne had a daughter from her previous marriage, Ruth, who would go on to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps, Army Reserve, and finally as a Navy Seabee Heavy Equipment Operator. While assigned in Iraq as a convoy security driver for her beloved Marines, an IED was detonated between her vehicle and the one behind her, resulting in fractures to her spine and permanent nerve damage in her arms. She subsequently was Medically Retired from both the military and the Department of Homeland Security. Grandson Douglas served in the Air Force and Granddaughter Catherine’s beau is an Air Force officer. I forgive them for not choosing the Navy. Anne herself served in the Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician during the Korean Conflict.

After our move to Sierra Vista, Anne and I joined the Holy Family Catholic Community and both of us served in one capacity or another as long as our health would allow it. I joined the ranks of the Catholic Faith in August 2004 when I was baptized, confirmed, and received first communion from Father John Kastigar.Tom Shibe of Sierra Vista became my godfather. My confirmation into the Catholic Faith surprised most of the congregation.

They thought I had been a Catholic all along because I answered many questions for many years on the Catholic faith.

I will miss my days of working in the church with Mary Barnes and all members of the Holy Family Catholic Parish. I also want to let Ron and Bonnie Graf of Yuma know that I have found Max and have given him a hug for you. I have also reunited with all the many fur babies that have been a part of my life. And I already miss Paddy and PeeDee, but I’m sure they miss my lap more.

I was a bodybuilder for many years and have been a sponsor of the Copper Classic at Buena Health and Fitness with my “brother from another mother”, Henry “Hank” Diaz.

I am preceded in death by my mom, dad, and two brothers, Eldon and John. That leaves my dear wife, Anne, stepdaughter Ruth, grandkids Doug and Catherine, and my brothers Jim, Fritz, Bill, and Don, and sister, Deb, still alive and well, and I wish many more years for them all.

“Make the most of your life on Earth as it comes to an end much, much too soon. Prepare for your Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom by serving God the best you can. If you do that, God will never deny you entrance through the Pearly Gates.” Adios Amigos!!!

The family also wishes to sincerely thank Fry Fire District, Canyon Vista Medical Center, Banner University Medical Center, Haven of Sierra Vista, and Valor Hospice Care for providing Bob with gentle care and dignity in his final days. We are also grateful to our neighbors, Bill Brown and his family, for their ongoing support. Our gratitude goes out to Lori and Roger Wysong of Sierra Vista for all that they have done for Bob and his family. We are also grateful to Father Mike of Our Lady of the Mountain for his visits, his blessings, and prayers that helped ease Bob on his journey home. And a final thank you to all our friends that have reached out and continue to pray for Bob and for his family.

A funeral mass for Bob will be held at the Main Post Chapel on Ft. Huachuca on Friday, 19 March at 11:30. Internment will be at the Veterans Cemetery at 12:45. Due to COVID only 25 people will be allowed so we ask that family be given this time. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date when COVID restrictions have ended.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his name to Wounded Warrior Project, Best Friends Animal Society, or St. Joseph’s Indian School.

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