Robert Bruce Stirling, former Navy
pilot, newspaperman, Foreign Service officer, and the World's
Greatest Grandfather, passed away peacefully at home and surrounded
by his family on Sunday, March 3, 2002. He was 80 years
Bob Stirling, as he was known during his long and varied career,
was known to his family and extended family, including the
friends of his six children and fourteen grandchildren, foreign
exchange students, political refugees, and other newcomers
to America, as "Puma".
He was a man of great intelligence and integrity, a generous
spirit, and he had an extraordinary sense of humor.
was born in Romeo,
Michigan in 1921, the son of a stone carver who brought
his family to America in 1909. After enrolling at
of Michigan,where he was a reporter for the Michigan
Daily, he enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and served his
country as a fighter pilot, flying F6F
Hellcats and F4U
Corsairs, through the end of the war in 1945.
Puma wearing Stirling Clan Tie
Puma returned to the University of Michigan in 1946, where
he met Mary
Jean Congdon, who was also returning to the University
of Michigan after serving with the Women's
Army Corps in Europe. They met at a bus station
in Detroit while waiting for a bus to Ann Arbor, were married
in April 1946, and were together for 56 years. Mary, also known as Ba, is The World's Greatest Grandmother.
After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1947,
Puma came to Tucson as a reporter for the Tucson
Daily Citizen in 1949.
During his 13 years at the Citizen, he wrote news stories
and features about life in Tucson, including a series of
articles about the adventures of the Stirling family--Bob
and Mary and six kids--on a three-week tour of Mexico
in an old Volkswagen bus in 1957. Puma won the
Arizona Press Club's award for best feature story in 1957
for a series of articles about the Titan missile silos located
around Tucson. He also once famously declared an unexpected
holiday for Tucson schoolchildren, writing that Tucson schools
would be closed on Columbus Day, when in fact the schools
were open. He remained with the newspaper until 1961,
when he was appointed to the United
States Foreign Service after John Kennedy was elected
Puma worked as an assistant press attaché at the American
Embassy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 1961 through 1965,
and as press attaché in Tegucigalpa, Honduras from 1965
through 1966. From 1967 through 1969, he was stationed
in Phu Cuong, South Vietnam, where he was during the Tet
offensive in 1968, and then in Go Cong province in the
Mekong River Delta, where he was engaged in Psychological
Operations. After the first moon landing in July
1969, Puma displayed the first "Moon
Rocks" brought to the earth by NASA astronauts
at exhibits in cities all over the world.
Puma left the Foreign Service in 1970 and returned to
Tucson, where he was employed as the editor of the Tucson
Territorial newspapers, until he went to work with
Johnson at the University
of Arizona in the area of University Relations.
Among his other responsibilities, he was the editor of
the University publications "Lo
Que Pasa" for University faculty and staff, and
"Jubilacion" for retired University employees.
Puma served as President of the Tucson
Press Club in 1981, and he retired from the University
of Arizona in 1982.
A lifelong Democrat and unrepentant liberal,
Puma was politically active throughout his life.
He served for many years as a Democratic precinct committeeman
in Tucson, and was also a member of the vestry at St.
Michaels and All Angels Episcopal Church and later at
St. Andrews Episcopal Church. He was proud of his service
to his country in the Navy and in the Foreign Service.
He confronted adversity and controversy with unwavering
Puma is survived by his wife, Mary;
and by his six children, April
Romo de Vivar, Penny Johnson and her husband Don,
Robin Kottabi and her husband Parviz, all of Tucson;
Duenas and her husband
Sergio of Guadalajara; Robert
Bruce Stirling II and his wife Deborah
of Phoenix; and Scot Stirling and his wife Ann, also of
Phoenix. He also leaves 14 grandchildren: Ricardo
Maduro, Agustin Romo de Vivar, Mercedes Wilkins, and Robert
Jones; Amber Johnson and Aaron Johnson; Leila Kottabi,
Parisa Kottabi, and Arian Kottabi; Vanessa Duenas and
Marcela Duenas; Ryan Flannery; and Holly Stirling and
Robert Stirling; and four great-grandchildren, Riche'
Jones and Robert Jones, and Lexus Wilkins and Brandon
Wilkins. Puma is also survived by his brothers and
sisters: Jackie and Jack Essa, Janet Whitmore, David Stirling,
Angus Stirling, Annette Sternaman, and Martha Ray.
He was preceded
in death by his father and mother, Oliver and Honora Stirling,
brothers, Oliver Stirling, Harold, and Peter Stirling,
and sisters, Edith Hall, Norah White, and Frances Stirling.
Other beloved members of the Stirling extended family
include Claudia Vasconcellos Schwartz, and the Hai Nguyen
family and Duong Van family of Tucson.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Andrews Episcopal
Church on March 16, 2002 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of
flowers, the Stirling family would be honored by any act
of charity or random
act of kindness in his memory.
Tucson Daily Citizen News Story
UANews News Story
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