Robert (Bob) Alan Blakely of Great Falls, Virginia passed away in the early morning of December 1 in a fatal car accident. He is survived by his three daughters Allison Sydnor (husband Chad), Erin, Catherine Cullinan (husband Tommy); four grandchildren Abby, Anna, and Jack Sydnor and William Cullinan; and brother Bill Blakely (wife Susan) and their family, and sister Cindy Hall (husband Doug) and their family. He was a loving husband to his late wife, Christal (who passed away July 2021), and a dedicated, engaged, and loving father to his children and grandchildren.
Born in Elkhorn, Wisconsin and raised on a dairy farm in Darien, he held Midwestern values and possessed the work ethic borne from a farm life. As a young man, Bob was a proud member of the 4H club and was blue ribbon boy of Walworth County. He raised Hereford cattle, which he used to help him pay his way through school. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A student athlete, he rowed crew and served as a Midshipman in the Naval ROTC program. Bob was commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy in 1971. A distinguished athlete, Bob represented the Navy and the United States as an oarsman on the PAN American team in 1978 in Mexico City and the 1980 Olympic team. As a naval officer, Bob coached the Plebe lightweights at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He later transferred to Washington, D.C. where he started the Navy’s drug detection K9 program and continued crew training out of the Potomac Boat Club in Georgetown. As a Naval Reservist, he supported Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield deploying with the Military Sealift Command. Retiring at the rank of Commander with 21 proud years of service, Bob was a true patriot in every sense of the word.
Using his athleticism, self-discipline, love of nature, and one chainsaw, Bob started what would become Northern Woods Tree Service. He was a Certified Arborist. He treated his crew like family, ensured for their safety, and provided for the well-being of their families for over four decades. He and his late wife, Christal, designed and built a beautiful home for their family in Great Falls. Years later, he worked with Amish carpenters to design and build his dream barn on their property. He loved his girls, and although he was among the toughest of men, he had the most tender of hearts. He was a beautiful pianist and could play anything he heard by ear. He loved popcorn and a movie, animals, Halloween, Christmas, a good old fashioned, and always bragged about his daughters (Pie Sisters of Georgetown) and being their official pie taster. He coached his three daughters throughout their athletic careers and never missed a game. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Georgetown and a man of faith. Bob Blakely lived a full life and will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place, Memphis TN 38105