Virginia Beach ~
Robert William Finkbeiner, 85, died peacefully February 29, 2016 in his home.
Born in Pleasantville, New Jersey to Margaret Lindsay and Walter Gustav Finkbeiner on November 5, 1930, he graduated from Pleasantville High School, then went directly into the Navy to explore the world. Joining with the intention of being a mechanic, he scored well in his tests and was convinced to try the then new department of photography. After 20 years as a Naval Photographer covering events, documenting military life for recruiting and missions, even serving in the White House under President Lyndon Johnson, he retired with honors as a Senior Chief.
He fell into civilian life – and right into a recession – first starting a film company, and then finally discovering real estate. ‘Chief’ or ‘Fink’ decided he was tired of working for others and started Acre Realty on Virginia Beach Blvd., ruling it for over 40 years. Without the worn kitchen in the back of that place, many an old Navy buddy would have gone without free coffee and a chance to laugh.
Balancing himself on a tall ladder, and with great risk, he kept the landmark giant Deodar cedars out front trimmed into perfect cones for decades. Finances, negotiations, and playing the stock market were all enjoyable for Robert, and being independent suited his personality. Many a deal was struck with a handshake and a contract on scrap paper.
He loved road trips and was known in his younger days to go on long trips just for dinner. On a European tour, while his buddies spent their leave in the bars, Robert traveled to Germany and bought a shiny black Mercedes 220 S sedan right out of the factory, then went on a week-long meandering excursion, taking in the sights. Even though he sold it just a few years later, he talked of that car for the rest of his days. With these tight budget sight-seeing excursions, he instilled in his children a reminder to enjoy the journey as much (in his case, often more) than the destination, to welcome mistakes as mere detours. He had an uncanny sense of direction and memory. He could maneuver through a city he hadn’t visited in thirty years with no problem.
Robert possessed all kinds of skills over his long life and could do much of his own work on his rental properties with his crazy collection of tools and chaotic garage full of materials. He often let himself get coerced into doing odd jobs for loved ones. At various times, he was an avid tennis player, sailor, pinochle and chess player, ice skater, and serious badminton opponent. He had to be busy or he would get into mischief.
Robert was not a religious man, more agnostic, an armchair philosopher of sorts. He preferred to think of himself as a Disappointed Optimist. He would warn others not to look too much for purpose because they might not like what they find.
Fascinated by nature shows and interested in new discoveries in space, medicine, technology and science, he was an avid reader of magazines and was sure to share anything interesting.
He believed in caring for oneself physically, financially, and emotionally, though he fully expected mistakes from everybody. In fact, he was pretty good at predicting what would go wrong in any situation. (He was frustratingly correct, too.) But for all his understanding, he could get himself into all kinds of surprising trouble, even to the very end. In fact, the pace quickened.
Robert liked routine. You could count on him to be prepared, on time, to buy lunch, and to tell a darn good story. Over time, as he lost some of his vision and his hearing, then his mobility, he slowed, but he was comfortable with his own company and didn’t need much…including (famously) more than one light bulb on at a time.
Though he had a few brushes with death, and seemed to heal from everything life threw at him, it wasn’t until he suffered a major stroke in 2009 that he became limited in his abilities. Thanks go to Selma Smith, Fidelia Afor, Isidora Iles for their outstanding care and all the others who made it possible for him to stay in his home. Thanks to Priscilla Engelschjon for writing him long letters all the time (it really warmed his spirits), Ron Henning for making him laugh and coming to his aid for odd projects, and to Debbie Cowan for her friendship. Thanks to Dr. Raja Bakhshi who reluctantly gave up trying to talk health care and instead conversed about photos, and his neighbors who helped watch for his antics. Thanks to the waitresses who had his favorite table and butter knife/mixed tea/medium steak/salad with lemon already ordered. Thanks to the bankers and tellers who listened to his stories and asked about him years after he stopped coming in himself. Thanks to Lance, his faithful furry companion who suffered run-ins with the wheelchair. Thank you to all who will spin his tall tales ever higher and help keep his memory alive.
Robert leaves his older brother Walter Finkbeiner (Margie) of Virginia Beach and sister Shirley Mathis (Clarence) of South Carolina, Robert Grandfield and Carla Reardon from his first marriage to Shirley Jaqueline and Denise F Holden (Thomas) and Robert Vincent Finkbeiner (Kimberly) from his marriage to the late Jeanne Martinelli.
A ceremony will be held at his daughter’s home March 19th at 1:00. (Please wear comfortable shoes as it may be outside. Dad liked flowers.). 2420 Hunting Horn Way Virginia Beach 23456 (757) 401-1956
Please share a memory with the family via the “Condolences and Tributes” tab.Send FlowersPlant a Tree