Robert Howard Corr, of Vineyard Haven, died in Orlando, Fla., after falling while vacationing there with several of his family members. He was 85. The week prior to Bob’s passing was spent with his childhood friend, Charlie Gregg, in Fort Lauderdale. He and Charlie were the last two of a large group of inseparable childhood friends dating back more than 75 years. It seems more than fitting that they, unknowingly, spent Bob’s last week together.
Born, raised and educated in Taunton, Bob was the second son of T. Howard and Marion G. (O’Connor) Corr. Bob’s older brother, James, predeceased him several years ago.
From the end of the 19th century through the late 1970’s, Bob’s family owned the New Process Twist Drill Company in Taunton. He spent his youth and school years proudly working in every department of the factory, learning the family business, but his career would take an entirely different path. After finishing school, Bob spent 10 years as a deck sailor in the merchant marines, working on liberty ships, oil and gasoline tankers, travelling all over the world. Once ashore, he spent the bulk of his career as an administrator with the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. A licensed social worker, he was a skilled advocate for, and worked to develop programs to help redirect the most troubled of teens.
On New Year’s Eve 1945, at a party with friends, Bob met a young lady named Patricia Cary. This chance meeting began a true romance that would last nearly 62 years. They married on Oct. 20, 1951 and their union produced four children and seven grandchildren. The pair instilled strong family and community values in their brood, setting an example of volunteerism, generosity and acceptance. His wife, Patricia, died in 2007.
Although seasonal residents of the Island for many years, upon their retirement in 1987, Pat and Bob moved to Martha’s Vineyard full time and took up residence in the Cary family home on William street in Vineyard Haven, where Pat had grown up. At first a “reluctant Islander,” Bob came to love the community and often said he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. His daily trips to the post office, where he might catch up with friends and neighbors, gave him great pleasure, and he was a regular sight wandering Main street in Vineyard Haven, where he was known by so many of the shopkeepers, waving and smiling as he strolled by, especially the girls at Mardell’s, who always made sure they had his favorite flavor of Lifesavers on hand for him.
Bob was an intensely private, dignified man who believed in family above all else. His favorite holiday was Thanksgiving, as it brought the entire family together and wasn’t a “commercial circus” like so many others. He loved to study all areas of U.S. history. Automobiles, reading, playing poker and journal writing were among his hobbies. Bob was a strong swimmer and took great pride in teaching his children and their friends to enjoy the water. He was a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, and formerly a member of the Taunton Lodge of Elks and Martha’s Vineyard Oriental-Masonic Lodge.
He is survived by four children: Michael H. Corr and his wife Judy, Sandra Corr-Dolby and Jeffrey G. Corr of Vineyard Haven, and Robert C. Corr of Malden, as well as seven grandchildren: Gregory Dolby, Melissa Dolby, Colleen Corr-Panek, Thomas Corr and Ryan Corr of Vineyard Haven, and Jeffrey Corr 2nd and Jennifer Corr of Edgartown. He also leaves four nieces and a nephew on Cape Cod.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 13 at 12:30 p.m. in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. At Bob’s request, the Rev. Richard Fenn will officiate. Friends will be welcome at the family home, 79 William street in Vineyard Haven following services.
In keeping with Bob’s love of children and belief that “all children should have a toy under the tree at Christmas,” the family is requesting memorial donations be made to the Red Stocking Fund, P.O. Box 600, Edgartown, MA 02539.
The Corr family extends their gratitude to Michael Hoyt of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home for his assistance in arranging for Bob’s cremains to be brought home from Florida. An online guest book is available at ccgfuneralhome.com.