When Robert S. Povey was asked what he’d like his first grandchild to call him, he considered, and said, “Mr. Povey, I think.” In actuality, he was Bobby to his adoring wife, Dad to his kids, Grandpa (after all) to their kids, and to everyone else, Bob.
Bob was a Brooklyn boy who, when the Bronx Bombers defected to California, picked up the pieces and became a dedicated Yankees fan. He loved a good hockey game, live or on TV, whether or not the Rangers were headed to the Stanley Cup. It was tennis, however, that was his passion. Bob grew up on the public courts of New York City, worked as a ball boy for many of the old-time greats, and played for City College of New York. He met and fell in love with his future bride, Irene, on a tennis court. Bob was a powerful, precise and graceful player long after his two bum knees kept him from running down the ball. Bob loved everything to do with the game – the old stories, the current tour, taping and re-taping a grip, his vintage Keds, his regular Wednesday-night game, weekend play with his wife and kids, and a cold pitcher of beer after a few friendly sets.
After serving in the army in World War II, and getting a Masters in English at NYU, Bob entered into a long and brilliant career as an advertising copywriter for the Benton & Bowles Agency in Manhattan, where he became a Vice President. Bob was deeply respected for his sharp and creative copy, and equally loved and admired for his dry wit and often self-satirizing character. His beloved rumpled trench coat earned him the nickname, “Colombo.” He shared more than hobo-chic style with the TV detective: as with Colombo, it was a mistake to underestimate Bob. The trench may have been rumpled, but his insights were meticulous.
Bob was a lover of language, literature, theater and movies. He loved Shakespeare, Frederic Prokosch, Henry James and John Updike, as well as Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Benny Hill. The soundtrack to Bob’s life was a medley of Noel Coward, Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart (not Hammerstein), and Irving Berlin, preferably performed by Fred Astaire. Bob admired Fred as much for his throw-away charm as for his grace and expertise. Fred made it look easy – he danced his way through the Depression, whistling a tune, not in ignorance of hardship, but as an answer to it. Fred was Bob’s hero.
While Bob and Irene enjoyed countless nights over the years on the town, fancy and low-down, he was most enchanted by an evening of roast beef, mashed potatoes, canned spinach and lively conversation at the dinner table at home with his family.
No one could take the Brooklyn out of Bob, but Bob’s travels did eventually take him far from Brooklyn - to Houston, Texas, then to Tempe, Arizona, where he enjoyed organizing his desk and his extensive film library, picking grapefruit in his and Irene’s beautiful garden, and basking in the hot sun. Bob and Irene left Arizona for Bend, Oregon in June of 2012.
Bob’s wife, Irene, his sons, Paul (daughter-in-law, Terry, grandson, Bobby, granddaughter, Sarah), Bill (daughter-in-law, Janet, granddaughters, Katie and Nicole, grandson, Jack), daughters, Irene (son-in-law Michael, granddaughters Madeline and Isabella) and Barbara (son-in-law Anson, grandsons Hector, Roland, Tristan and Holden) and his cats, will miss him greatly.
Thanks, Bob. Like Fred Astaire, you made it look easy.
A memorial mass will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Historic Church on Franklin Ave. in Bend at 10 a.m., Tuesday, January 28, 2014