ROBERT LYLE HEMPHILL, one of six children, was born in Madison, Kansas, to Bruce and Ethel Hemphill, February 6, 1926.
He is survived by his wife, Cherie, whom he met while serving in the Navy and stationed in the Philippines. They were married in her hometown of Cavite City, Philippines, on October 25, 1952, and were married 68 years. He is also survived by his daughter Susan; sons-in-law Tom and Matthew; grandchildren Chad, Leah, Adriana, Alexander, great-grandchildren Ethan, Jack-Elliott, Jameson, Avonlea, Rhealyn; his sister Elizabeth, and sister-in-law Allena. He was preceded in death by his daughter Victorina and siblings Harold, Doris, Walter, and Orville.
Raised in the “mountainous” state of Kansas, it was from the tender age of 15 that he expressed an interest in flying and all things aviation. So much so that he did odd jobs at the rural airport to earn money for flying lessons and flight time in a beloved Piper Cub. He learned to fly before he could drive. He hated cars all his life, but he never lost his passion for flying and feeling the wind beneath his wings.
Robert’s academic career had a checkered start when he failed kindergarten. His mother said he was a stubborn boy and never would drink the milk or eat his graham crackers. However, his passion for learning eventually did kick in, and he graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University with High Honors. As a KSU student, he attended every sporting event he could - not because he liked sports, at all, but his tuition included tickets, and being forced to pay, he was going to attend! He was such an excellent student at KSU that his fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha, courted him to join, thereby raising their dropping academic average.
After getting married in the Philippines, Robert relocated his wife to West Allis, Wisconsin. As an engineer, he worked for more than 30 years at Allis Chalmers and retired as Manager of Plant Engineering. He often said that he felt like he should be paying A-C for working there because he had so much fun working with all the “BIG TOYS.” When the time came to retire, he opted to volunteer for several years as the proctor and registrar for the Duane Lake Academy in Austin, TX, where two of his grandchildren attended.
On November 27, 1965, Robert got baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He remained active in his Bible ministry for over 55 years up until the time of his death. Robert also served as an Elder in the West Allis, North, and later with the Leander Congregation in Leander, TX.
In addition to being a diligent Bible student, Robert’s academic interests spanned multitudes: physics; geology; math; classic literature; electronics; classical music, including the great composers; old radio shows like The Shadow, Jack Benny, The Green Hornet, The Honeymooners; and many others. He also enjoyed sharing his passions with his family as a unique form of “entertainment.” Many a family dinner or road trip was spent doing mental math gymnastics (“If train A leaves at 2 pm and train B leaves at 3 pm…”; “When Susie was 20 and Mary was 15, how old will…?”... you get the idea).
To Robert, his mother’s cooking was always the best! His favorite meal was pan-fried chicken with mashed potatoes and cream gravy – and woe be to anyone that let a single piece of potato skin show up in the mashed potatoes. Of course, that was followed by cherry pie – preferably with hand-picked and hand-pitted cherries from Door County, WI.
Robert was a passionate and principled man who shared his curiosity with anyone who would listen -- even some who may have tried not to. His life impacted countless individuals through his family, ministry, work, extensive travels, and friendships. He was loved by and will be missed and remembered by many.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert Lyle Hemphill, please visit our floral store.