Robert D. Hull

March 10, 2012|By JANET HEIM |
  • Helen Hull feeds her groom, Bob Hull, cake on their wedding day, Jan. 29, 1972.
Submitted photo

Robert “Bob” Hull was proud of his roots. He was the oldest of three sons born to Christine and Robert L. Hull.

“Bob was always very sentimental. All three were born in Keyser. That made him a West Virginian,” said Bob’s wife, Helen Hull of Hagerstown.

“Living there framed us for the rest of our life,” said middle brother Terrance “Terry” Hull of Hagerstown.

The family lived in Westernport, Md., until 1951, when they moved to Hamilton Park in Hagerstown, not far from North Hagerstown High School. Bob was 10, Terry was 8 and Randall “Randy” was an infant.

“We had a wonderful childhood together,” Terry said of growing up with Bob. “We were always together.”

The two rode bicycles and explored together. Their grandmother owned Midway Tavern, so they would stop by and let her treat them to burgers, fries and milkshakes, Terry said.

“Their mom raised these boys to be close,” Helen said.

Their father was a millworker, so money was tight. Terry remembers their mother giving each of the older boys a quarter, which covered the cost of a bus ride to a swimming pool, where they would spend the day swimming. With their leftover nickels, they would buy frozen Milky Ways. 

As the family gathered photos for the funeral home, Terry’s son, Patrick Hull of Hagerstown, found a photo of his beloved uncle pulling a young Terry in a wagon.

“He’s been pulling my wagon 68 years,” Terry said. “Now, I have to pull myself.”

Bob graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1959, then went to Hagerstown Junior College for two years.

After HCC, Bob continued his studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Maryland in College Park.

Terry also went to the University of Maryland, and the brothers roomed together for Bob’s final year of college. Bob returned home in 1963 and worked at Acme Supermarket, where he had worked while in high school, while awaiting word on a job with the CIA as an analyst.

During that time, Bob joined the NAACP, concerned about civil rights and fair housing laws in Hagerstown, wrote youngest brother Randy of Houston in an email. He remembers joining Bob on a march.

“As his younger brother, I was so proud of his courage and his activism ... He was a role model to me for his willingness to take a position in which he believed,” Randy added. 

Bob did receive a job offer, but President Kennedy was killed and President Johnson “froze” the federal budget, prompting the CIA to rescind the offer, Randy wrote.

Dick Yates, a Hagerstown friend and college roommate of Bob’s, had gotten a job with the Washington County Department of Social Services. He suggested Bob apply, which led to a 32-year career for Bob.

Bob’s first two years were spent working in Baltimore County, where he started as a caseworker, and the remainder in Washington County. He retired in 1996 as assistant director. 

Bob and Helen met in December 1969 and dated a little more than two years before they got married on Jan. 29, 1972. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

They had been introduced previously by a niece of Helen’s who worked with Bob, when they ran into him at the movie theater. When Helen, who worked for a cable company in Cumberland, Md., needed someone to go with her to a Christmas party at work, she thought of Bob.

He agreed and always claimed that when she came to the door, he knew he was going to marry her, Helen said. Bob, with his affinity for detail and exceptional memory, could even recount what Helen was wearing that day, down to her jewelry, Terry said.

“Bob amazed me because he knew a little bit about a lot of things,” Helen said.

After the couple married, Bob tried to get a job with the Department of Social Services in Cumberland, without success. So every other weekend, the couple would travel from their Hagerstown home to Cumberland to help take care of Helen’s father and great aunt, until they died.

“Bob was a tremendous help to me with that,” Helen said.

In August 1973, the Hulls moved to Morgantown, W.Va., so Bob could earn his master’s degree in social work from West Virginia University. They returned to Hagerstown in May 1975 and he became supervisor of adult and family services for DSS.

Bob was raised a Methodist, while Helen was Baptist. They did not attend church regularly, but Helen said reading his Bible and praying were important to Bob.

“He lived a truly Christian life and practiced it every day,” said Terry’s wife, Joan Hull. “The way he treated people, he had such a big heart. He showed by example.”

Bob also was humble. Helen said Bob’s funeral lasted two hours because about 20 people got up to speak at the service.

Had Bob been there, he would have said “that’s enough,” Helen said.

“It was truly uplifting. His parting gift to us was (for us) to leave there and be more like him,” Randy said in a phone interview.     

Bob was the oldest son, and Bob’s mother, now 89, always had looked to him as “her little man,” Helen said. He had done the “lion’s share” of taking her to appointments and getting her places, Terry said.

Even though Bob and Helen did not have children, Bob was close to his two nieces and nephew, as well as to Helen’s 23 nieces and nephews.

Bob was proud of his family and extremely patriotic. His father served in France with Patton’s Third Army in World War II, Helen said.

Terry worked for more than 30 years as a civilian engineer with the U.S. Navy/Department of Defense and worked on nuclear submarines, which fascinated Bob. Randy is president of his own consulting firm, which works with global companies primarily in the petroleum, energy and chemical businesses. 

When Terry retired seven years ago, he moved from Scaggsville, Md., in Howard County to Hagerstown. He joined Bob and John Kenney, a former coworker at DSS, for their Wednesday night outings to the Improved Order of Red Men in Williamsport, where over a few beers, the trio would solve the problems of the world, Terry said.

John, now program manager of adult services for the Washington County Department of Social Services, worked with Bob for 24 years. After Bob got his master’s degree, he became John’s boss.

“He was very dedicated to helping each client and family in any way he could. I really enjoyed working with him,” John said.

John added that Bob was a people person who reached out to others and “kind of adopted me and my family.” 

Bob belonged to many service organizations because his father was instrumental in helping him become a member. He was loyal to those organizations — Red Men, Moose International, Eagles Inc. in Waynesboro, Pa., Sons of the American Legion and Sons of AMVETS.

Bob’s death took the family by surprise. He had been having trouble sleeping for about two weeks and finally sought treatment, but died in his sleep before he could return home.

“It was a tremendous shock,” John said of receiving the call from Terry that Bob had died.

“There are no words I can come up with to describe how much Bob meant to me,” Terry said.

Editor’s note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered” is about Robert D. Hull, who died Feb. 27 at the age of 70. His obituary was published in the Feb. 29 edition of The Herald-Mail.

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