Robert Sherman was born into this world on December 2, 1927 by Nathalie and Henry Sherman, who were the cornerstone of what made Bob the incredibly generous, unselfish, spiritual person he was. Raised lovingly with five brothers: Hank, Al, Jerry, George, Patrick and a sister Dorothy, family is what Bob cherished over anything, and over the course of his life, innumerable friends also became his “family”. He grew up in the Depression Era and their family never turned away anyone in need, even though his family themselves hadn’t much to give. One of Bob’s most memorable childhood experiences was when his father took the children to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. As he watched two brothers head off to fight in World War II, Bob decided he would leave school at 16 years old and fabricate his age to become a Merchant Marine. Starting in 1944, Bob worked as a Merchant Marine and afterwards he spent time in the Army as well as the Reserves. His primary areas of combat were in the Atlantic War Zone and the Mediterranean/Middle East during his 10 years of service to our country.
Upon return from war, Bob serendipitously formed a relationship with Tom Lloyd, founder of Admiral (1949, Glenview), then Target Corporation (1965, Lake Bluff) whose primary business was a top secret defense contractor for the United States government. Bob was a tireless employee and worked for Tom practically his entire professional career in various facets of Engineering and contracts management. Bob had an intellectual thirst for operations and how things work. He also had numerous other personal hobbies which ranged from oil painting and playing the drums to photography and practicing hypnotherapy and transcendental meditation. Highlights from his professional career include developing some of the first printed circuit boards used in government equipment and creation of “image orthicon transistorized camera”, translated as underwater surveillance. As much mental stimulation his work provided, the deep trust, friendship and respect established with Tom Lloyd served as a true guidepost in Bob’s life and he was forever grateful for the opportunity to work with such an inspirational man. His career was sweetened with wonderful co-workers along the way.
In 1958, one of those co-workers, Florian Funk, lived in a downstairs apartment in Rodgers Park IL and set Bob up on a blind date with the pretty single lady who lived above him. After three years of jazz performances, Chicago supper-clubbing and international travel, Bob married Nancy Baczynski (Varese), a Chicago native who worked in the travel industry and radio, and had a wicked sense of humor. Bob was now blessed by marriage with a very large Italian and Polish family as well. After spending several years in an Oak Park flat, they ventured out in 1967 to the Northwest Chicago suburbs to start a family.
Bob’s daughter Laura was born in 1968 and Kathy (Kathryn) in 1972. If you ever asked Bob how he was doing, he would rather tell stories about his family or his children versus talk about himself. As a consummate proud daddy and selfless individual, he strove to provide the same level of omnipresent love for his kids that he always felt from his parents. Although he worked long hours, Bob was always home for family dinners and never said “no” when they asked to throw a ball, a Frisbee, or play a game. It was his encouragement and leadership by example that inspired Laura to ultimately become a Doctor of Medicine and Kathryn a Sales and Marketing Executive. The decades spent in Mt. Prospect were memorable, filled with large Sherman family gatherings and countless Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears and Bulls games. Friendships gained through the family’s membership at St. Emily’s parish and school, where Nancy also volunteered, were lasting and impactful. Travel of course was always on the docket; visits to Door County Wisconsin and visiting Nancy’s brother John with wife Dianne and his wonderful family in San Francisco were annual family treks.
Bob retired from Target in 1991 and upon Nancy’s retirement in 1999, sold the home they built in Mt. Prospect and started a new life at PebbleCreek Retirement Community in Goodyear, Arizona. Bob and Nancy entrenched themselves into this fabulous network of people, who very quickly became another set of family members to them. They joined the Italian-American club and relished the close-knit friendships of the Comedy Supper Club, the PC Players and the Showtime theater groups. Both of them would bubble in excitement over the next performance or play they were working on with the groups.
In a very sad and unfortunate manner, God took Nancy in 2005 after a very courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. It truly was the people of the PebbleCreek community that provided the love, care, compassion and support Bob needed to continue to flourish and grow in his life, and he did. As Bob watched his final performance at PebbleCreek, “A Night at the Renaissance” dress rehearsal on November 13, 2015 he said with tears streaming down his face (and after getting numerous kisses from several Dance Fusion dancers), “these are some of the most talented, capable, wonderful people I’ve ever known – I love them so much.”
As much as he deflected attention, there were a few opportunities for us to give back to this humble man. His daughter Laura took him on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Egypt for his 80th birthday and in September, 2014 his daughter Kathryn accompanied him on a Stars & Stripes Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in recognition of his WWII service. For the thousands of supporters and volunteers of the Honor Flight, and the 30+ friends and family that came from coast to coast to welcome him home at the Milwaukee airport, please know Bob said that day was the “greatest day of his life”. In 2012, Bob became a proud grandfather for the first time when his daughter Kathryn and her husband Chad brought their son, Calvin Robert Rowen into the world.
Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on New Year’s Eve 2014 and subsequently decided to have one of the most invasive surgeries to combat it. “It won’t go away on its own”, he’d say. Bob gave it everything he could, and in these last few months, he continued to be gracious even in the face of demise. His deeply-held belief that this mortal place is merely a gateway to another life is what continued to keep his spirit resilient. We extend our deepest gratitude to our family and friends, the community at PebbleCreek who he loved so very deeply, and the wonderful people with Always Best Care nursing and Infinity Hospice care who made him feel like he was your only patient.
Bob is survived by his daughters Dr. Laura, Goodyear AZ (S.O. Rick) and Kathryn (Chad) with grandson Calvin, Appleton WI. His brother Patrick (Nancy), Wauconda IL. His brother-in-law John (Dianne) in Goodyear AZ and numerous deeply loved nieces in nephews as well as cousins all across the nation.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, January 30th, 2016 at 3 p.m. in the Pebble Creek Tuscany Renaissance Theater in Goodyear, AZ and at Matz Funeral Home, 410 E Rand Rd, Mt Prospect, IL at a future date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to New Life Center (http://www.newlifectr.org), an emergency domestic violence shelter for women and children in Goodyear AZ or “Build the Backstage”, a fundraising effort to remodel and update Bob’s beloved PebbleCreek Theater. Checks can be made out to “Build the Backstage”. Sentiments and donations can be sent to: Kathryn Rowen, 4706 Waterstone Court, Appleton WI 54914 and she will ensure the organizations receive your donation.
We shall never forget Bob; he will now watch over us and continue to serve as a moral compass. He passionately believed and exemplified how rich one’s life can be by opening themselves up to others, loving without boundary, and living by “The Golden Rule” every day of his life. May God bless him.