Obituary Details

Robert Louis Waldrum

January 18, 1953 - October 7, 2017

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The Life of Robert L. Waldrum
Robert, who preferred “Rob”, was born January 18, 1953 in St. Louis, Missouri to Gladys Charline and Christopher C. Waldrum. In his youth he began sailing and, according to the story relayed to me, he mostly taught himself. The story is as follows;
It was the summer of 1965 and Rob was attending a Boy Scout camp. He had often used the idea of sailing to escape the troubles of his life, and so naturally Rob went to the dock to see if he could get on one of the small sail boats. A Senior Scout was overseeing all the activity on the dock and Rob approached him, asking if he could take one of the boats out onto the lake. The Senior Scout, being older and wiser, didn’t believe a little 12 year old would know what he was doing. So the scout asked Rob if he could sail, taking no measures to hide his incredulity. Rob insisted that yes, he could sail. The scout, unconvinced, pointed to one of the smaller boats that lay unassembled. He told Rob that if he could set the sails and the rigging he’d let him take it out on the water. With the full bravado of a little boy in over his head, Rob accepted. Quite obviously Rob had no clue what to do or even where to begin, but lucky for him there were two scouts prepping their boat for launch. Careful not to be seen looking, Rob stole a few quick glances at the other boat and began to copy what he saw. Eventually he had his boat rigged and ready for launch. The Senior Scout approached and voiced his amazement. Truly, he didn’t think such a young kid would be able to pull it off. Clearly Rob knew what he was doing, or so the Scout thought. The Scout offered to help Rob launch from the dock to get him going. Unbeknownst to Rob or the Scout, this was the moment wherein success or failure hanged from a single thread. If the Scout helped launch Rob’s boat out on to the water and Rob couldn’t fill his sails, he’d be dead in the water. If he was dead in the water his complete lack of understanding or experience would show. If that happened, the Scout would see through Rob’s bluff and call him back to the dock, likely with some sort of reprimand. Fate, however, would see him succeed. At the perfect moment a strong gust of wind kicked up and filled Rob’s sails without any effort on his part. And so he took off across the water without any sort of knowledge as to what he was doing. That day he would begin the process of learning how to sail. Later he would learn the names of things, the theories, and the proper techniques. But that day back in 1965 would see him flying across the water with the wind in his hair.

Always seeking adventure, Rob would take up waterskiing at the edge of sixteen. This, however, was much more of a mundane beginning doesn’t bare retelling. During this time, he attended Pattonville High School in St. Ann, MO and would later graduate in the spring of 1971.
After his graduation from Pattonville, Rob began attending the University of Missouri St. Louis (UMSL) but later joined the Navy in October of 1971. It was during his service in the Navy that Rob picked up the hobby of snow skiing. He would also be deployed to Vietnam from January 1972 to March of 1973. Rob received an Honorable Discharge after four years in the United States Navy in November of 1975. Upon his Discharge, Rob again attended UMSL from January 1976 until May of 1977. He would then move to the Lake of the Ozarks and take up SCUBA diving in August of 1977.

In November of 1978 Rob joined the Marine Corp, serving until November of 1982, serving as an Assault Demolitions Expert. Later in his service he would also fill the role of a Mountain Warfare Instructor. Rob would achieve the rank of Sergeant before his Honorable Discharge from the service.

In June of 1983 Rob began his career in the IT field with TRW-Fujitsu. At the same time, he attended San Diego State University (SDSU). While working and studying, Rob meet his first wife, Lynda Vernia, and they married in 1985. Working full time and attending night classes meant for a long academic career, but he would eventually graduate in December of 1992 with a BA in History. 1989, however, was a much more important year for him. In October of that year he finally became a pilot with a private license. This was soon eclipsed by the birth of his first son, Matthew Thomas Waldrum, on November 29, 1989.

After graduating from SDSU, the family moved to Raleigh, NC in April of 1993. That same year Rob’s second son, Tyler Christopher Waldrum, would be born on September 23. Having left Fujitsu behind, Rob began working at Post Software as an IT specialist once more. Two years later Rob joined up with Nortel in April of 1995.

In May of 1997 Rob left Nortel and began working for QVS Software. More importantly, his third son, Alexander Robert Waldrum, was born on May 12. In April of the same year, Rob and his eldest son Matthew became certified black belts in Taekwondo, having attended Peck’s Taekwondo of Raleigh. The two would go on to achieve the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt, and Rob would become an instructor and teach for five years.

Unfortunately, Rob and his wife Lynda divorced in March of 2000. This would ultimately prove to be for the best, however it was a difficult time for all parties involved. Both Rob and Lynda would remarry, and Rob was fortunate enough to meet Susan Schueneman Crowder and the pair would marry on the 10th of May, 2002. Rob and Susan enjoyed spending time sailing in the British Virgin Islands and SCUBA diving, as well as beach time on the North Carolina Coast.

In 2007 Rob was hired on with Itron Corp. Within a few weeks of his hiring, however, Rob was diagnosed with Sino-Nasal Undifferentiated Carcinoma, a cancer of the sinuses. The diagnosis and prognosis were grim, however with the help and care of his second wife Susan, he was able to recieve treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Rob would beat the cancer, but at a price. Surgery was performed on his skull to remove the cancer, and eventually the ravages of the radiation would necessitate that a titanium prosthetic plate would have to be installed. Rob was always a handsome man, and it is this writer’s opinion that the prosthetic, which left a noticeable scar, was something that Rob was moderately self-conscious about.

He survived, however, and would continue to make the best of his time. He witnessed all of his son’s graduate high school in California and year after year he would make the journey to them to spend time with them. At first it was trips to Disney Land, but as his sons grew older they began to simply camp and enjoy each other’s company. All four of them share wonderful memories of camping in Big Bear, California during the summer months.

The year of 2017 was a difficult year for Rob. Health problems began cropping up. His family believes the radiation and chemotherapy played some small role, but they hold no ill will. Rob was admitted to a physical rehabilitation facility and was discharged August 9th. His eldest son, Matt, flew out on August 8th to help his father recover. It was a slow process at first, and he was admitted to Wake Med twice for pain, but Rob’s health seemed to be improving. He and his son spent their time together catching up and trading stories from their past. They watched TV (Rob enjoyed Mountain Men, Forged in Fire, Ice Road Truckers, and Ancient Aliens) and managed to see Dunkirk while it was still in theaters.
Tragically, Rob’s health took a drastic turn on the 10th of September. A protracted illness saw his health continue to decline until he was placed in hospice care at Transitions Hospice on the 1st of October. Always the fighter, Rob held out for a full week. His son, Matt, never left his side and kept him company throughout. Robert L Waldrum passed on peacefully in sleep at 9:22 am, EST on October 7th, 2017. His son was at his side.
Of further note is that Rob was the published author of The Offensive Driver, ISBN 1440402035. He also wrote articles for sailing and piloting magazines. Lastly, Rob was a member of the Harbor Island Sailing Club in San Diego and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

As his son, I can attest to my dad’s good character. He made some mistakes along the way, but so too have we all. He was not a perfect man. But he was a good man. He taught me many lessons that I’ll carry with me and pass on to my children. I know in my heart of hearts that he loved my brothers and me fiercely, and he was so proud of the men we have become. Of special pride to him is my youngest brother, Alex, joining the Marine Corp. Rob, my dad and my mentor will be sorely missed by many people, and he will always be loved.
Matthew Waldrum


A private family memorial will take place in California at a later date.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital or Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh, NC.
Posted by:
Rick Voytko
Posted on:
November 19, 2019
I served in the Navy with Rob in California where we met and we both transferred to Bainbridge Maryland until which time the base was decommissioned. We remained good friends while stationed at Bainbridge, I was discharged when the base was decommissioned at that time and we lost contact. I was searching the web specifically for Rob. I am so sorry for your loss, one other thing Rob was a Navy Seal
Posted by:
Betty Vaughn
Posted on:
October 11, 2017
Rob was always so sweet and kind to me. He suffered many challenges in an all too short life. My heart is heavy to learn of his loss.
Posted by:
Mary Clayton
Posted on:
October 8, 2017
Robert was a caring and dedicated member of our Cancer Companion ministry at White Memorial Presbyterian Church. He was always ready to share his strong faith with others and for that we will be forever grateful.
Mary Clayton
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