Robert Peter (Bob) Stocking, Sr., died in his Durham home on May 8th. He was 88.
He was born on December 23, 1934, in Upper Darby, PA, to R. Preston and Margaret (Murphy) Stocking. He grew up in Fitchburg, MA, where he graduated from St. Bernard’s High School in 1952. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954-1958, then attended Clark University in Worcester, MA, before earning his bachelor’s (1963) and master’s (1965) degrees, both in education, from Fitchburg (MA) State College.
Bob personified the family man. In 1962 he married Corrine M. Solak, his beloved Pixie, and for over 60 years he was at home anywhere, as long as it was with her. Their three sons were born in Fitchburg, but Bob and Pix moved their young family to Manchester and Concord, NH, then to Brookline, MA and Loudon, NH, before settling back in Concord in 1975. His deep commitment to his family spanned generations. After retiring from the state of New Hampshire in 1990, he and Pixie moved to St. Petersburg, FL, to care for Pixie's parents. Then in 1994 they moved to Durham, NC, to be closer to the first of what grew to be four grandchildren. The endless joy he received from his wife, sons, grandchildren, and extended family showed us all that there is no higher calling in life than to love one another.
Throughout his decades as an educator, Bob taught everyone from kindergarteners at St. Patrick School in Largo, FL, to doctoral students at Tufts University outside Boston. He spent most of his career in what was then called the Electronic Data Processing department at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord. During his tenure at NHTI he kept his students on the leading edge of computing technology, starting with punch cards and magnetic tape drives and moving over time to workstations and desktop computers. He later led the effort to digitize the records of the New Hampshire State Supreme Court, tutoring future US Supreme Court Justice David Souter along the way. Even in retirement, Bob could not stop teaching, whether it was the basics of computing to elementary school kids or mathematics to community college students.
Bob’s natural curiosity made him a lifelong learner. For years he audited one class each semester at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including courses on US history, religion, epidemiology, and anthropology. He was an avid reader, especially biographies and books on the Civil War.
Bob actively participated in organizations that mattered to him. He served as the parish council president at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and on the board of A Better Chance, both in Concord. More recently, he served on the board of the Five Oaks Homeowners Association in Durham.
Bob’s enthusiasm for living was obvious to all. He was gregarious and could strike up a conversation with anyone from frozen yogurt vendors to university faculty to neighborhood children. He celebrated his Irish heritage with gusto and loved all Boston sports teams. He loved attending any school event his sons, and later his grandchildren, were participating in. He said there wasn’t a problem in the world that couldn’t be solved with pizza, ice cream, wine, or a good movie.
Bob is survived by his wife Pixie, of Durham, NC; three sons, Robert Jr (Vicki) of Chapel Hill, NC; Matthew (Eileen) of Greenville, SC; and Thomas (Rae) of Cornelius, NC; four grandchildren, Robert III of Atlanta, GA, Valerie (Edward Burgard) of Chapel Hill, NC, Samantha of Birmingham, AL, and Margaret of Greenville, SC; a sister, Elizabeth Anne (Mogé) of Leominster, MA; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by three sisters, Helen (Ambrose), Margaret (Girouard), and Susan (Secino); and a brother, Roderick Jr.
A celebration of Bob's life will be held Monday, May 15th at 1:00 pm in the Five Oaks Clubhouse in Durham. Please dress casually. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that donations be made in his name to Love Chapel Hill church. The family expresses its gratitude for the support of Duke Hospice, Love Chapel Hill, and Walker’s Funeral Home.