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Robert K. Garwood  '54


No. 19723January 10, 1929 - May 14, 2009

Died: Manlius, NY

Interred: West Point Cemetery, NY


Robert Kenneth Garwood was born in Fairfield Station, NJ, to Joseph and Mildred Garwood. After high school, he entered the University of Pennsylvania with a full scholarship. When his father died a short time later, he left the university and joined the Army. He served in Germany, took the entrance exam for West Point, spent a year at the USMA Prep School at Stewart Field, and entered West Point in 1950 as a member of the Class of 1954.


Bob thrived as a cadet. He welcomed the academic challenges and the opportunities in other cadet activities. He ran cross country in his first three years and worked on The Pointer magazine all three upper-class years. The Debate Council and the Russian Club broadened his horizons. His roommates recall Bob’s superb skill at solving problems. For example, he would complete the crossword puzzle in the New York Times in the brief period between Reveille and breakfast Chow Call.


On Apr 18, 1954, he met Thirza “Terry” Burnweit. It was love at first sight. By graduation time, Jun 8, 1954, they decided to marry. They were married in Nyack, NY, on July 24 in order to leave together for his Primary Flight Training at Bartow AFB, FL. Six months later, they moved to Goodfellow AFB, TX, where Bob received multi-engine flight training and his pilot wings.


Dover AFB, DE, was their first real duty station. Bob flew C-124s to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Greenland, and Iceland. Although Bob was generally away half of most months, living in Delaware was one of their happiest times. They made wonderful friends who they always visited during vacations. Their daughter Diane was born in 1956 at Dover.


The Garwoods’ next home was Brigham City, UT. Bob worked at -Thiokol Chemical Corporation on the Titan III missile. After a year, they moved to Los Alamitos, CA, where Bob worked at Space Systems Command near Los Angeles. Their son David was born in Hollywood in 1961. Their next move was to AF Command & Staff College at Maxwell AFB, AL. After that year, Bob took O-1 flight training in Fort Walton, FL. He then flew O-1s as a Forward Air Controller in Vietnam in 1965-66, operating from Tan Son Nhut and Bong Son.


Bob’s next assignment was in England at South Ruislip AFB. He worked at RAF Uxbridge and flew at RAF Northolt. He always dreamed for his family to live in Europe, and that dream came true. Bob and Terry loved to travel, and the family toured through most of England and Europe during the three–year tour.


After England, Bob became Detachment Commander of AFROTC at the State University of New York in Buffalo in 1969. It was a hard time at universities because of the Vietnam War. Bob’s offices were demolished so badly by protesting students that AFROTC classes had to relocate, and the program eventually vacated the campus. In 1971, Bob earned an MBA from George Washington University. The Garwoods moved to Falmouth on Cape Cod where Bob was stationed at Otis AFB, MA. When the Air Force left that base, Bob was transferred to Hancock Field, Syracuse, NY, as Chief of Airfield Management. This was a homecoming for Terry as a Syracuse University (SU) graduate.


In 1974, Bob decided to retire. They were really happy in Syracuse and decided not to move again. Post retirement, Bob was an accountant at GE and he founded a retail business, Limestone Liquors, in Manlius, NY. Their daughter Diane and son David with his wife Kelly and their children Allison, Stephanie, and Robert lived nearby. Bob was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather.


Bob loved classical music. In Syracuse, he enjoyed the symphony. They became enthusiastic supporters of SU basketball, never missing a game unless traveling. Bob and Terry were active members of the Episcopal Church wherever they were stationed. Bob served as Lector, Usher, and Chalice Bearer in several churches.


Bob loved being challenged by crossword puzzles and Sudoku, the harder the better. He was an avid bridge player, especially duplicate bridge. Playing in the U.S. Embassy Bridge game in London against more than 500 tables worldwide, Bob and Terry won North-South for the tournament. He was an American Contract Bridge League Life Master. This interest in bridge and travel combined delightfully; Bob and Terry were Bridge Directors on 35 ocean cruises, some as long as 50 days.


Bob had a double heart bypass in August 2006. In October 2006, while playing bridge with Terry and good friends, he suffered a severe stroke. Bob could not speak for the rest of his life, except for whispering “home.” His right side was completely paralyzed. After several months in hospitals and rehab facilities, Terry took him home, where she took care of him with the help of aides, therapists, and Hospice. He was hospitalized several times during those years. Bob died at home of pneumonia on May 14, 2009. He is interred at the West Point Cemetery.


Bob’s passing left a huge void in the lives of his family and friends. He is remembered for his intellectual gifts, humor, patience, and wise counsel. Everything he did, he did for love of country and his family. But most importantly, Bob is remembered as the most honest and sincere person we

have known.


Terry Garwood and classmates


Originally published in TAPS, Summer 2013

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