Robert William Hockenberger, who recently celebrated his 91st birthday and his 67th wedding anniversary with his loving wife Theresa, passed away at his daughter’s home in Colorado on February 22, 2023.
Known as “Hock” in his youth, Robert was born on January 27, 1932 to William and Viola Hockenberger. He grew up in the small town of New York Mills with his younger siblings Pamela (Hockenberger) Hieber & Glenn Hockenberger. He returned there frequently in later years to visit his parents and other family, often coming home with a couple dozen half-moon cookies and a speeding ticket.
Robert joined the Air Force during the Korean War. He spent much of his time in the service in Germany and Austria, competing on the Air Force ski team. But the service also took him to New Orleans, where he met Theresa Duplanties in 1951 while they were dancing on a riverboat called The President. They corresponded over the next few years and married in 1956.
They had two children, David (who married Beverly Miles) and Cynthia (who married Arthur Morris). Robert was “Poppop” to five grandchildren: Meghan, Evan, Therice, Kaitlyn, and Norah. Robert also had two great-grandchildren, Birch and Bennet, via Meghan and her partner Scott, and another is on the way this summer, via Evan and his wife Emily. David and Norah died several years before Robert, and he missed them both dearly, sometimes seeing them in his dreams.
After leaving the Air Force, Robert finished college, received a master’s degree in electrical engineering, and eventually went to work for IBM. At IBM, he was part of a group that collaborated with NASA on code for the Apollo missions and the Space Shuttle, and that work took his family to Alabama and then Florida. In 1978, they settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. Robert retired from IBM in the 1990s and spent time doing the things he loved best: golfing, skiing (reminiscing about it once he could no longer do it himself), watching sports, playing bridge, drinking Coors Light, and having raucous discussions in which he was always convinced he was right, no matter how much proof there might be to the contrary.
His defining feature—despite his own assertion that it was his smart mouth—was his devotion to his family, especially his wife. As his memory declined in recent years, his consistent question when she was not in sight was, “where’s Theresa?”
His family will miss his booming voice, his sense of humor, and his sweetness.
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