SUTTON - ROBERT “BOB” DEXTER KNEELAND, AGE 67, passed away from pancreatic cancer on October 21, 2022 at home surrounded by family.
Bob leaves his wife of 34 years, Irene Kneeland, three children, Kim (Will) Kneeland, Chris Kneeland, and Kara (Kevin) Earl, his father, Allen Kneeland, his only favorite sister, Susan Jackson, his niece, Sarah (Yochai Gal) Jackson, and nephew, Ben (Cara) Jackson as well as the huge community of family and friends stretching all over the globe from his many travels.
Bob’s love of adventure, nature, and discovery started early with family vacations to the Caribbean, winter ski trips all over New England, and summers spent on the shores and swells of Rhode Island and Maine. Bob’s curious mind and intellect pushed him to excel in school, as well as to play pranks on his sister. The two siblings kept a playfully antagonistic but close relationship as they graduated high school (Bob from Wilbraham & Monson Academy) and moved on to college in the Boston area. Bob graduated from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering. The stories of all the nerdy pranks Bob and his fraternity brothers at SAE played on unsuspecting city goers and rival fraternities always came up when reminiscing about college days, topped only by the story of Bob and Susie’s carefully planned heist of the “Kneeland St.” street sign in Boston. While Bob always highlighted his harmless mischief, he was a brilliant student and athlete (Capt. of MIT’s golf team), who graduated with many accolades and awards. Bob was modest, packing up many of those awards, degrees, patents, and honors in boxes, eventually to be found by his loving family members. To him, his skills and vast knowledge were practical - to be used to enhance everything he put his effort into, from his workplace to the boards and committees he served on, to his family and relationships.
After graduating from MIT, Bob lived in Allentown, PA for several years, working as an engineer at Air Products & Chemicals and attending night classes at Lehigh University to earn his MBA. After completing his degree, Bob accepted a position running the R&D department at Thermal Dynamics, a Plasma Arc Cutting and Welding Manufacturer in West Lebanon, NH. Though Bob’s technical knowledge and skill qualified him for the job, his ability to connect with people and effectively communicate with coworkers of all backgrounds made him a truly fantastic leader. Bob built a great group of friends from work that loved participating in athletic and outdoor activities, including a technical illustrator named Irene Corsak. Bob and Irene became fast friends, and it did not take long for them to fall for each other. They married on June 4th, 1988 in Irene’s hometown of East Granby, CT. The pair moved to Uxbridge, MA for Bob to work with his father managing Ocean State Finishing in Woonsocket, RI, and to start a family.
Bob and Irene welcomed three children; Kim in 1990, Chris in 1992, and Kara in 1993 and quickly outgrew their house in Uxbridge. This landed them in Sutton, MA where they built their dream home. Life in Sutton for the Kneelands was characterized by pool parties, romping around outside, going on hikes through Purgatory Chasm, school band concerts, sledding in the backyard, and building gigantic, structurally sound snow forts and sculptures (this is what happens when an engineer and a creative get married). Bob and Irene were fearless and never let their love for travel fade as they successfully managed to bring their three squirming kiddos all around the world, including Germany, Nova Scotia, Florida, Texas, and Namibia. They’ve never revealed their parenting secrets to this day.
Bob planted his roots in Sutton and quickly grew to love and care for all of the new people he met in the small town. He became deeply involved in the town and school system, serving on the board of selectmen for nine years. He used his breadth of financial and management knowledge to continuously support and maintain the beautiful town of Sutton and he and Irene were instrumental in the efforts to improve the Sutton school system in the ‘90s and early 2000s. His dedication to education was always apparent and has had a lasting impression on his children and the community.
In 2010, Bob became the director of Operations and Finance at Visual Magnetics in Mendon, MA and remained a loyal partner and friend to the business until his passing.
While Bob’s achievements were impressive and many, these are the memories that stick out and remind us of the warmth of who Bob/Rob/Dad really was: He took joy in helping others with his understanding of science, numbers, financial wisdom, and his skilled crafting of an ingenious spreadsheet. This was his love language - practicality, preparedness, and getting the job done right for those he loved - (except when something could be fixed with duct tape!).
He lived for exploring the wonders of nature both near and far with his soul-mate, Irene. He reveled in befriending and traveling with other like-minded travel bugs. He brought out his goofy side daily by serenading family with his “beautiful” singing voice (he was tone-deaf) and by quoting Monty Python and the Princess Bride regularly.
His happy places in this world included, sitting around the roaring fire pit with friends and family, listening to the crashing waves at Briggs Beach in Little Compton, watching golf on Sundays in his recliner, reading books about his next travel destination, being enveloped in powder skiing down the slopes, hiking those same gorgeous mountains in the summer and fall, and, of course, savoring the sights sailing around our beautiful world.
When you find yourself at the top of a ski run, on a mountain peak vista, or staring at a beautiful sunset at the beach. Please keep Bob in your thoughts and soak up the beauty that he so cherished.
You can pay your respects to Bob and his family at the wake, held at Mulhane Home for Funerals, 45 N. Main Street in Millbury from 4pm to 7pm on Wednesday, October 26th. His funeral service at 11am on Thursday, October 27th in the funeral home. There will be a casual reception to follow the funeral services at the VFW in Millbury, MA. Bob will be buried next to his beloved mother, Gwendolyn Ball, in a private family ceremony at a later date.
For both the wake and the funeral service, we welcome you to wear your favorite Hawaiian or flannel shirt in honor of Bob. We also welcome members of the community to say a couple of words in remembrance of Bob at the reception after the funeral services.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to honor Bob’s memory by supporting a place that was dear to his heart. Your tax-deductible donation may be sent to Waters Farm Preservation, Inc. 4 Uxbridge Road, Sutton, MA 01590 or at www.watersfarm.org