March 12, 1926 - April 1, 2021
A graveside service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on April 28, 2021 at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR. Military honors will precede a brief funeral service
March 12, 1926 – April 1, 2021
Robert Brinkerhoff of Portland, OR died April 1, 2021 at 7:58 p.m. at home with his wife and daughter at his bedside. Bob was 95 years old. He was on hospice for 17 months due to chronic congestive heart failure. He was looking forward to his heavenly home with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His wife, Barbara, was saying some of the words from the song, “Finally Home” by Don Wyrtzen during the last hour of his life: “Just think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God’s, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in Glory and finding it Home.” Barbara believes that Bob heard it and did it!
Bob was born March 12, 1926 in Bogota, NJ at 1:45 a.m. to Helen Mary (Cotton) and Marvin Judson. Bob shared many happy memories about his childhood, growing up on River Road. His father would take him into New York City for a movie and a bite to eat at the automat. He saw Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantel play at Yankee Stadium. Bob inherited his father’s sense of humor, telling jokes, stories, and puns. With a wink and a grin, he would say, “Those who lack the wit to pun are sure to groan at every one.”
Early on he developed a passion for photography and music, including swing, classical music, the symphony, and later opera. Some of his favorite big band artists were Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, and Harry James. Bob didn’t play an instrument, but he enjoyed listening to the radio and his massive record collection.
Bob loved storytelling about the Brinkerhoff history and researching the genealogy. Joris Dircksen Brinkerhoff (1604-1661) came from the Netherlands to America in 1641. In particular, Bob researched and prepared his findings about his great-grandfather Adoniram Judson (1840-1935), who served in the Civil War for the Union. He also transcribed primary source writings from his great-great-grandfather Christian (1807-1899), who served as a Baptist minister.
Bob graduated from Blair Academy in 1944 and matriculated into the class of 1948 at Princeton University. He was granted a leave of absence in order to enter the U.S. Navy. Bob served in World War II as a radioman using his skills in Morse Code until the war ended. He was honorably discharged and fortunately never saw action, as his ship was scheduled to depart for Japan the night before the war ended.
Aided by the G.I. Bill, Bob began his studies at Princeton University where he once saw Albert Einstein walking on campus. Bob married Jacqueline Martin in 1947, and had 3 little boys including fraternal twins, before graduating in 1951 with a chemical engineering degree. Bob was employed by Pfister Chemical Works, Ridgefield, NJ as company engineer and later Lever Brothers, Edgewater, NJ in their research and development division.
On Easter Sunday in 1962, Bob decided to go to church and heard about Jesus’s death and resurrection, through which he became a born-again Christian. Eventually, Bob and his first wife divorced after being married for nearly 20 years. They had 5 boys together.
Bob met Barbara Ann Reinhardt in Tenafly, NJ and they married November 4, 1967. Bob’s nephew Steve Smith said of the wedding, “It was the occasion of the year!” Bob’s sons were in the wedding and they all started life together in their new home in Closter, NJ. Bob and Barb later had 2 children together. In 1976, Bob took a job in Ada, MI with Amway in their research and development division. He later worked for Aetna in their commercial insurance division as a senior engineer inspector. In his retirement, he worked part-time at Sherwin-Williams paint store.
Bob enjoyed reading, collecting stamps, and tutoring students in math for 10 years at The Potter’s House school. His grandchildren of Grand Rapids later attended the school with one having graduated. He loved crunching numbers, approaching problems from an engineering perspective, and explaining how to use his slide rule from the old days. Bob was a wealth of knowledge, sharpening his mind from years of doing crossword puzzles and sudoku.
Bob was a scientist with a lively personality, never missing an opportunity to tell a joke or a story. He moved to Portland, OR with his wife to live with their daughter in the beginning of 2020, selling their home in Ada where they lived for 43 years. He was happy to finally reach the end of the Oregon Trail in the last year and a half of his life. He had wonderful care with Faith Hospice of Grand Rapids and Providence Hospice in Portland.
Bob is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their 2 children: son, Paul Jonathan (Elisabeth) and their 5 children, Eliana, Sofia, Liam, Gabriel, and Nadia of Grand Rapids; and daughter, Janice Margot of Portland.
5 sons from his first marriage: Steven Robert (Janet) of Englewood, OH; fraternal twins, Phillip Todd (Ginny) of Lavalette, NJ and Timothy Charles (Joanne) of Meriden, CT; Thomas Martin (Ann) of Summerville, SC; and Peter Andrew (Elizabeth) of Toms River, NJ.
13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren as follows: Angi (Scott) Williams of Centerville, OH and daughters Jenna, Jorja, Jaida, and Julia; Eduard (Sarah) of Centerville, OH and children Aidan, Penelope, and Eleanor; Amy (Brian) Woodward of Princeton, NJ and sons Jacob and Brayden; Kristin (Don) Vitale of Florham Park, NJ and daughters Jenna and Alexa; Courtney (Paul) Daily of Bloomington, IN and sons Spencer, Finn, and Liam; Caitlin (Anthony) Ferrucci of Plantsville, CT and daughter Abigail along with Cailey Brinkerhoff from a previous marriage; Lindsay (John) Reilly of Long Valley, NJ; and Justin of Prague, Czech Republic.
Also surviving is his cousin, Robert Atwood Messner of Laguna Woods, CA.
Nephews: David (Diane) Smith of Mills River, NC and children Derek (Erin) of Zephyrhills, FL and children Emily and Caleb; Adam of Hendersonville, NC; and Holly (Chris) Barbour of Charlotte, NC. Steven (Vicky) Smith of Smyrna, TN and daughter, Kinsey (Zachary) Hudson of Nolensville, TN and son, Reese. Mark (Georgiana) Smith of Williamsburg, VA and children Sherry (Landon) Christopher also of Williamsburg and daughters Waverly and Wren; Heather (Nathan) St. Jacques of Hendersonville, NC and children Elias, Avenly, and Avery; and David of Hot Springs, AR.
Nieces: Karen Kaiser (Paul) Sokol of Williamsburg, VA and son, Ryan (Barbie) of New Lebanon, NH and son, Caleb; and Robin Kaiser (George) Palchus of Herndon, VA and daughter, Olivia.
Additional survivors include Bob’s brother-in-law, Bob Handwerker of York, PA and his 3 living children: Kerri Handwerker (John) Soltysik of Red Lion, PA and children Ryan, Kaitlyn, Ian, and Mason; Craig Handwerker of Miami, FL; Cheryl Handwerker (Nic) Frishmuth of Coatesville, PA and daughters Ella, Lana, and Vera.
Bob’s nephew, Craig Handwerker, shared his memory of his uncle after learning of his death: “I always really loved your dad, my only uncle. He always made me laugh so much when I was a kid and he just brought so much joy to me. I’ll never forget that and his Donald Duck voice. He was such an inspiration for me to reach out to kids with playfulness and kindness because I know how much he impacted me even in just the little time I was able to be around him.”
Bob is predeceased by his parents, Marvin Judson and Helen Mary (Cotton); sister Helen Jean and husband, Leslie Smith; brother, Marvin Judson Jr. (in infancy); sister Dorothy Adele and husband, Warren Kaiser; aunt, Lucille Atwood, and husband, Floyd Messner. Additionally, cousin-in-law Irene Messner and his first wife.
A graveside service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on April 28, 2021 at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, OR. Military honors will precede a brief funeral service. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Omega Funeral and Cremation Services. A memorial marker will also be placed by his son Timothy in the family cemetery plot in Hackensack, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to The Potter’s House, 810 Van Raalte Dr SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49509 (tphgr.org)
Please visit omegaservices.com to view photos or make a final personal comment about Bob. His obituary will appear in The Oregonian, The Grand Rapids Press, and The Bergen Record (The Record/Herald News).
“When [he] passes, how much passes with [him]! — A whole way of life, a way of gentleness and honor and dignity. These things are going…and they may never come back to this world.” (Kings Row)
May Bob’s memory be a blessing.