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July 13, 1929 ~ January 2, 2024 (age 94) 94 Years Old
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Robert ‘Bob’ Conklin, 94, died on January 2, 2024 at Porter Hills. He was born on July 13,1929 to Mildred Goodrich and Albert Earl Conklin in Stamford, NY, a resort town in the Catskills Mts. As a youngster, school breaks were spent working chores on the dairy farms owned by his grandparents. As a teenager, Bob assisted his father in the plumbing and heating business, worked as a caddie at Stamford Golf Club, a pin-setter at a bowling alley and a bellhop at the opulent Rexmere Hotel, where a fringe benefit was access to the hotel’s golf course. He attended Stamford Central School, where his athletic abilities were sought- after by any baseball, basketball or bowling team. Milking cows on the dairy farm built up exceptional strength in his hands and forearms, which he used to his advantage as a pitcher, point guard, bowler and golfer. While still a teen, he was skilled enough to be invited to play with the Men’s League baseball and bowling teams in Stamford during World War II.
Bob entered Hamilton College in Clinton, NY in the Fall of 1946. He joined Alpha Delta Phi, majored in Anthropology and graduated in June 1950 just as the Korean Conflict began. Bob enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing that eventually shipped off to Western Europe. Bob rose to the rank of Sergeant Major of the new NATO base at Spangdahlem, West Germany. His commanding officer was putting together a golf team to compete with other Air Force Wings, and heard about Bob’s golf game. He spent his leave time driving his MG-TD sports car to play golf courses in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, where the hazards included unexploded German ordinance from WWII. Returning from the Air Force on a troop ship to New York along with his MG, he sold the car to enroll in Cornell Law School. He soon bored of legal studies and joined Carrier Corp. in Syracuse and began a successful career in Sales Engineering for HVAC systems. He was transferred in 1956 to Detroit, where he met Sue Tower of Grosse Pointe Farms. They married on September 8, 1956 and moved to Grand Rapids, where he established Wilson-Conklin Company, settled his family in East Grand Rapids and became active in the community. He joined the old Downtown YMCA and in the mid-60s, co-chaired its annual fundraiser, The White Elephant Sale. He joined a men’s bowling league team sponsored by ‘Two Stans’ Bar (now The Meanwhile). In 1967, he helped start EGR’s age group aquatic program. More than 400 swimmers signed up that first year, and he helped run practices and organize meets. Those early AAU swimmers formed the nucleus for EGR’s re-emergence as a powerhouse in high school swimming. As a member of the EGR Recreation Commission, he also helped plan the athletic complex at Manhattan Park. In 1981, Bob founded EnerTemp, Inc, a pioneer in the digital automation of building temperature controls. He sold EnerTemp to his employees in 1990, and the company remains in business today after more than 40 years. A member of Egypt Valley Country Club for 62 years, Bob joined its predecessor Green Ridge CC in 1961. As a Board member during the club’s move from Alpine Ave. to Ada in 1985, he played an active role in the new club’s site selection of two farms on Knapp Ave and Egypt Valley Road. In retirement, Bob volunteered as a course rater for the Michigan and Arizona Golf Associations. He and Sue wintered in Tucson, AZ for many years.
Bob was preceded by his sister Marjorie Silvernail, and by his wife of 66 years, Susan Spain (Tower) Conklin. He is survived by his sons and daughters-in-law Jeff (Teri) of Naples, Florida, Rich (Karen) of Long Beach, California, Peter (Ann) of Santa Barbara, California, by six grandchildren: Catherine Froehlich (Ben), Caroline Zafirovski (Todd) and Lily Conklin, all of Chicago; Richie Conklin of Austin, Lauren Conklin of San Francisco, and Lewis Conklin of New York City; by three great-grandsons: Cole Froehlich, and Henry and Jack Zafirovski, all of Chicago; by his sister-in-law Sue Tower of Berkley, MI; by his cousin Genevieve McKee of Rochester, NY; and by several nephews and nieces.
The family would like to thank the caregivers on Birch Court and Cedar Court at Porter Hills for their exceptional love and compassion towards Bob and Sue these past few years. He will be buried beside Sue among many generations of her Tower ancestors at Forest Home Cemetery in Greenville. Those wishing to memorialize Bob are encouraged to support The Evans Scholars Foundation. https://wgaesf.org/you-make-the-difference