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1928 Robert "Bob" Hetherington 2023

Robert Hetherington

July 6, 1928 — August 26, 2023

Camp Hill, PA

Robert “Bob” Hetherington, formerly of Allendale in Camp Hill, passed peacefully late Saturday evening, August 26, 2023, at his residence in Bethany Village, Mechanicsburg. He was 95 years old. A member of the Greatest Generation, Bob was one of its greatest. He was a husband to wife Terry for more than 70 years, a loving father to four children, an accomplished and creative professional, and a Marine who served in Korea. Faithful to family, community, country, church, and himself, his life was the true embodiment of the Marine motto, Semper Fidelis. 

Born July 6, 1928, in Whitinsville, Mass., to Albert and Josephine (Novak), Bob spent much of his early life in Queens, New York. He attended William Cullen Bryant High School where he was All City in track and field and participated in the Penn Relays. At the age of 17, Bob enlisted in the US Marine Corps with the intention of fighting in World War II.  After his service, he worked as a newsman and editor for the Associated Press and the American Broadcasting Company in New York. Around this time, he met Theresa (Terry) Grabowski, who would become his lifelong love and companion. The couple married and were expecting their first child when Bob was recalled to service in Korea where he saw action including at Chosin Reservoir. While serving as a combat correspondent, Bob was wounded and later awarded a Purple Heart.

After his service, Bob worked as a reporter on several small Pennsylvania papers from Pittsburgh to Lewisburg to Danville before settling in the Harrisburg area and beginning a career in public relations and government service. He became the director of public relations for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Department of Highways (now Transportation). Always creative, his innovations included redefining guardrails as “guiderails,” introducing the state to “Miss Beth Highways,” and opening a section of Interstate 78 with a string of Lebanon bologna stretched like a ribbon across the highway. 

From 1970-75, including the height of the Watergate scandal, Bob served as press secretary to U.S. Senator Hugh Scott, the Senate minority leader. While a relatively short period in his long life, his time in Washington with Senator Scott, a man he deeply respected, profoundly affected his life. He moved back to the Camp Hill area and joined Edward C. Michener Associates as Vice President of Public Relations in 1976. He later became the managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, a position he held until he retired in 1993 and for which he received multiple accolades. Among them were the Man of the Decade of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association (1993), the award of excellence “for Lifetime Achievement in Public Relations” (1996) and the distinguished service award for the National Better Roads and Transportation Council, for which he had served as chairman. The American Society of Highway Engineers named him its “advocate for over 35 years of outstanding service to the highway industry.” Bob loved talking about highways and drove capably on them until he was 95 years old.

Long active in community activities, he also served on the Board of Directors of the Harrisburg Hospital, the Four Diamonds Fund, the Volunteers of America and the West Shore Country Club.  He was the volunteer vice president of communications for the Tri County United Way, the president of The Americans for Competitive Enterprise System and past president of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society. He was a longtime member of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in New Cumberland.

He was an avid follower of politics who subscribed to print editions of both morning and afternoon newspapers. Well into their adulthood, he sent his children thick envelopes full of newspaper clippings and engaged in spirited political debate at the holiday table. After performing his duties as carver-in-chief and enthusiastically offering “the juice” to those gathered around the table, he or one of his children would eventually broach the latest political hot topic. Perhaps owing to his time with Senator Scott, he understood the importance of listening to those on the other side of the aisle, a group that usually included his own children and later grandchildren. Often outnumbered, he held his ground amid sometimes intense disputes, with the full confidence of a person who knew what he believed and didn’t feel threatened by letting others express their own beliefs.  And always, as the dishes were cleared, there was love and laughter and, much later in the night, a round of his signature Stingers.

Bob embodied his generation in his movement forward and optimism that better days would always be ahead and that he could weather any storm. He sat through the 1974-75 inaugural Washington Capitals’  8-67-5 season with his six year old son so they could make memories together. The Capitals finally rewarded him with a Stanley Cup in 2018. His beloved Red Sox, home to his baseball hero Ted Williams, finally came through for him in 2004 and threw in a few titles after that for good measure. Even if his kids did not always hold the same beliefs as he did or take the path he would have, he supported them unconditionally. He coached their teams and enthusiastically attended their debates and plays.  He never gossiped, choosing instead to see the best in people. He welcomed new people to the neighborhood with a smile and a pitcher of Whiskey Sours. He begrudgingly accepted family pets, then became their favorite sitting spot. In short, he was a rock for those around him, a steady and calming hand in a sometimes confusing world. He will be terribly missed.

Bob was preceded in death by beloved wife Terry. Survivors include his children, Bryan (Susan) of Rochester, NY, Kathryn Couper of Las Vegas, NV, Elizabeth Corso (Mike) of Oak Park, IL, and Marc (Suzanne) of Chapel Hill, NC; his grandchildren, Nathan (Rebecca) of Rochester, NY, Matt (Christina) of Oak Park, IL, Lizzy of Little Rock, AR, Samantha Jayakumar (Jit) of Los Angeles, CA, and Ben and Sam of Chapel Hill, NC; his great-grandchildren, Robbie, Isaac and Joey Hetherington of Rochester, NY; and nieces, Barbara Ann Van Siclen of Washington DC and Nancy Heinrich of Long Island, NY.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11AM on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Mechanicsburg. A visitation with family will be held the hour prior to mass in the church. Burial will be private and held at the convenience of the family in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Mechanicsburg.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Bob’s name to Bethany Village’s Associate Appreciation Fund. Checks may be made out to “Bethany Village” and directed to: Asbury Foundation Office, 325 Wesley Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055.

 

Service Schedule

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Visitation

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Mass

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

11:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Burial

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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