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Robert "Bob" Cloninger
August 16, 1926 ~ October 20, 2023 (age 97) 97 Years Old
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A veteran of WWII, and 97 years young, Bob left this life to join his late wife of 62 years, Cleo “Boots” Cloninger, on October 20, 2023. Bob, who grew up in Stanley, joined the Navy in 1944 at age 17, traveling first to Gulf Port, Mississippi, and serving in Miami and New Orleans, and on ships in Panama, Hawaii, Midway, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Japan, and Korea. After the war, he came home to work at Union Carbide, first in Charlotte, and then in 1976 was moved to their Asheboro plant, retiring after 40 years in 1986, when he moved back to Stanley.
From 1954-1970, he also owned Bob Cloninger’s Triumph Sales in Charlotte. He was a Triumph racing mechanic from 1957-1975 for national winning rider Ray Durham, traveling to races all over the southeast including on Daytona’s road race track and beach strand. He carried his mechanical abilities into his love of Studebakers and was a member of their N.C. club. He restored several cars, and was a regular at Friday night car shows in Stanley with his Maui blue 1953 Champion, which he drove in many Veterans Day and Christmas parades.
He lived a life of service to others. Retired for as long as he worked, he dedicated his retirement years to volunteering for the many causes he loved. Starting in 1946, Bob was a charter member of and leader in American Legion Post 266 in Stanley, holding offices of commander, finance officer, first vice commander and chaplain. The last meeting he attended was less than a month ago, giving him over 76 years of continuous service to the post. He was also a member and held leadership positions in both state and the local unit of the Legion’s “Forty and Eight” society, which is an independent, by invitation, honor society of American veterans promoting service projects emphasizing child welfare and nurses training. He was inducted into the American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 for his many years of selling tickets at the Legion’s Gaston Braves games and serving on their baseball committee.
For his hometown of Stanley, he also served many years on the town’s zoning board. As a respected and loved pillar of his church, FUMC Stanley, he was the person to call when anything needed repairs. Until only weeks ago, he remained a vibrant, active, and always present member. Speaking of Bob several years ago, his former pastor, Rev. Noel Sweezy, told Bob’s family, “I want to grow up to be Bob Cloninger someday.”
Both curious and intelligent, he was known for having a depth of knowledge on a wide range of topics. Before the internet, if you didn’t know the answer to a question, you knew you could just ask Bob and he would likely know the answer.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Alva and Fred Cloninger, his only sibling, Nard, his daughter and her husband, Brenda and Bill Smith, daughter-in-law, Ginger Robinson, and his wife, Boots, who Bob lovingly cared for as she declined over 18 years with dementia until her death 6 years ago. Loved ones who will cherish their memory are two surviving sons: Robby Robinson and Rusty Cloninger (MaryLynne) who cared for Bob in their home since Feb. 2022; 7 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren.
The service will be Saturday, October 28, at 2:00 pm at FUMC, Stanley, with Rev. Brian Elwell, officiating. Visitation will be from Noon to 1:45pm prior to the service, and interment following at Hillcrest Gardens. Memorials may be made to FUMC, Stanley, Help Fund or Food Pantry, 5481 Hickory Grove Rd, Stanley, NC 28164.
Woodlawn Funeral Home in Mt. Holly is serving the family.