Robert P. RewMay 19, 1933 ~ September 10, 2019 (age 86)
Robert Philip Rew was born May 19, 1933, in Rockford, Illinois, to Thomas John Rew and Grace Emma (Frank) Rew.
Bob’s early years were difficult, as he and his older sister Betty lived with relatives and a series of foster families for 8 years during the depression and the beginning of World War II. These experiences taught Bob the importance of family and a strong marriage partnership. He also gained a life-long love of opera music, as one of his foster families had a wind-up Victrola and a stack of opera records.
Bob attended West Rockford High School, where he played basketball and was in ROTC. During high school, he worked at several jobs including a print shop and a supermarket. When he joined the Navy in 1951, he realized ROTC had prepared him well. He was named one of five squad leaders in boot camp, was encouraged by good scores on aptitude tests, and was able to choose Naval Aviation. While he was at home on boot camp leave in December 1951, Bob met Lois at the high school dance after the Rockford East-West basketball game.
After specialized training at Navy schools in Jacksonville, Florida, and Memphis, Tennessee, Bob began work as an aviation electronics technician at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, California. He then joined seaplane patrol squadron VP42 for sea duty in Hawaii and the Philippines. Completing his four-year enlistment as a Petty Officer Second Class, he received an honorable discharge. Bob credits his Navy experience with his pursuit of an Electrical Engineering degree and a subsequent long and fruitful career with IBM. After four years of long-distance letter writing, Bob and Lois married in 1956. That 63-year partnership and the family were of top importance to Bob.
In 1957 Bob enrolled in college at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), while Lois taught high school English. After four years of diligent work (nothing but eat, sleep, and study!) Bob was awarded his bachelor’s degree in 1960, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. Engineers were in demand, and Bob was hired by IBM in Poughkeepsie, New York. That fall, Bob and Lois became parents to Ramona and two years later to Karl.
Bob’s 30-year career at IBM included stints as programmer, logic designer, writer, and advisor, and was marked by awards for outstanding technical contributions and patents. One of Bob’s early projects which attracted a lot of media attention was to design a voice output so a computer could answer up to 256 simultaneous phone calls with stock quotations. Bob had used his own voice for the sample tracks, and thus in 1965 Bob became the first voice of the New York Stock Exchange. Bob often jokingly apologized for originating a computer that answers the telephone instead of a person.
Inspired by his experiences in naval aviation, Bob trained as a pilot in the 1960s and bought a half interest in a 1959 Piper Tri-Pacer. In 1968 IBM recruited Bob to Menlo Park, California, to join the high-powered team developing a supercomputer project called ACS-1, later ACS-360. Bob and his flying partner (who was also moving) flew the Tri-Pacer from New York to California, a six-day trip. Bob and his family settled in San Jose, in the rapidly growing “Silicon Valley.” His family remained Bob’s priority, and family activities included church, swim meets, weekend flying, camping, and much conversation. In 1977 Bob and Karl bonded by building a beautiful replica of an MG TD. Bob planted an extensive garden and grew luscious tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables.
In the 1970s Lois went to graduate school with Bob’s full support, and then she began teaching at San Jose State University. After Bob retired from IBM, he began an extensive remodeling of the San Jose
house and also patiently typed and retyped manuscripts for textbooks that Lois was writing. He volunteered at an antique aircraft museum and continued gardening. Bob and Lois participated in Elderhostel trips and enjoyed attending Opera San Jose performances. In 2016, after 48 years in San Jose, he and Lois fled the crowded Silicon Valley and moved to Colorado Springs, finding a new church home and supportive friends, neighbors, and family.
In 2017 Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer, and he died September 10, 2019, at age 86. He is survived by his wife Lois, daughter Ramona Johnson (married to Craig), son Karl Rew (married to Shoko), five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, sister Betty Benthien, sister Marilyn Fensterman, and brother Jim Rew. A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 30, 2019 at Academy Christian Church, 1635 Old Ranch Road, Colorado Springs, at 11:00am. Bob has chosen to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, his family asks that you consider contributing to Hope and Home, a Colorado Springs organization that trains and supports foster parents and provides foster homes for children throughout Colorado, or to your favorite charity.
Hope and Home
4945 North 30th Street,
Colorado Springs, CO 80919