Obituaries
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Howard Robert (“Bob”) Westerman passed away peacefully on 19 October 2020. Born 17 February 1926 in Jersey City, NJ, Robert was the son of Rita and Edward Westerman, and the devoted husband of Paula Ann Westerman, who survives him. Father of Jeff Westerman (married to Theresa Westerman) of Moreau, NY, and Amy Westerman of Exton PA, he also leaves one grandson and five great-grandchildren. Bob and Paula lived in Little Silver, NJ between 1970-2017, then in 2018 they happily moved to The Atrium in Red Bank, NJ.

An only child, Robert graduated in 1942 from Snyder High School in Jersey City. From there he attended St. Peter’s College in Jersey City for one year, before proudly joining the US Navy in 1943. He was stationed in Taklambi, New Guinea, serving in the PT Boat squadrons.

After WWII, Bob returned to the US and earned his chemistry degree at St. Peter’s College. Then in 1948 he attended the University of Chicago in Illinois, where earned his Masters degree. While there, he had the privilege of studying physics with 3 Nobel Prize-winning professors : Urey Villi, Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller in 1949-50. During this time of long-distance courtship, while he was studying in Chicago and she was living back home in Jersey City, Bob married Paula Levey in 1950. He returned to the New York area to stay in 1952, earning his PhD in chemical physics at Columbia that same year. An avid history student, he never stopped learning.

Between 1952-54, Robert worked at the Pentagon for the Chief of Naval Operations, spending time in Japan, and serving on aircraft carriers as a Commander in Operations during the Korean War. Honorably discharged in 1954 and returning to NJ, he took a job at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories in Whippany, NJ, eventually as a Department Head. He spent the 1960’s deeply involved in NASA’s space program, the Mercury missions in particular, and developing satellite operations in Hunstville, Alabama and White Sands, NM. He also served in US intelligence services. (His son Jeff remembers coming home from school one day in 1966 and finding Bob sitting at the kitchen table reviewing sensitive work materials - in the company of an armed guard, who was handcuffed to a briefcase laying on the table between them!).

In 1970, Bob took a position as Department Head for Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ, and moved his family to Little Silver. When Bell Labs wound down his operations in Holmdel, Bob retired, having given them 40 years of devoted service. Not exactly suited to retirement, Bob soon began serving as a consultant to the US Army at Fort Monmouth starting in 1983, before fully retiring in early 2000, at 80 years of age. By then he had written two industry-benchmark volumes, the first of which, “Orbital Mechanics,” is a textbook still used academically and in US Air Force Academy trainings.

His was a life of many happy memories and achievements. One particularly sweet memory grew out of an unusual situation which occurred in his youth, when Bob was an Eagle Scout. The Great Blizzard of 1947 found his troop trying to reach camp at High Point, NJ, but the heavy weather prevented them. So, they diverted to Jersey City, where they were able to distribute their now-surplus food supplies to the hungry people staying in shelters. And during that mission to aid his hometown, he met his future wife, Paula Levey. Thus began their friendship, courtship, and eventually, a marriage and partnership lasting 70 years.

Services will be private. Thompson Memorial Home of Red Bank, NJ was entrusted with the arrangements.

 

 

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Bruce S. Thompson, Owner & Manager, NJ LIC #3740

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