Robert F. Wilber
Robert “Bob” Franklin Wilber, 78, of Keene, went to Jesus to “walk on streets of gold” on the evening of Aug. 7, 2019, at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. He died of complications caused by his “abnormally large heart” — a heart cherished by all who knew him. His last hours were spent in the arms of his loving wife, surrounded by loved ones holding his hands, expressing their love, sharing memories, crying and laughing both. To be expected, he teased and befriended every nurse and care provider he met in those final days. Bob touched the lives of many, many people with his kindness, generosity, and sense of humor. Those most impacted by his love were his family members who were his pride and joy.
Bob was born in Keene, to Ellsworth and Dorothea Wilber of Swanzey. His childhood and teenage years were marked by working at Wilber Bros. Supermarket with his dad, playing sports, and coaching Little League baseball. Bob was a varsity athlete at Keene High School, 1955-1959, lettering in football, basketball and baseball and later returned to Keene High to coach football. Passing up the opportunity to play professionally, he chose to marry the love of his life and raise a family.
The family spent 10 years in Chester, Vt., where Bob owned and operated the local grocery store, Wilber’s Market. In 1974, they returned to Keene, purchasing a house just over the fence from Wheelock Park, where Bob umpired many softball games, ran the concession stand, and played various other roles associated with the Keene Softball League, including his role as “Dr. Softball” on local radio which garnered him a national award.
Bob was a Keene city councilor, a Mason and a Shriner for over 50 years. He worked as the program director for the Keene Parks and Recreation Department for 20 years. The children who benefited from his work loved “Mr. Wilber,” and were grateful for his efforts to provide meaningful activities and family entertainment like his favorite, Gary the Silent Clown. Bob had a great love for Special Olympics.
He was an avid collector of sports cards and memorabilia and he shared this with others up and down the East Coast. In most recent years, Bob and Martha split their time between Lakeland (Fla.), Virginia Beach, and Wells (Maine). In Florida, they enjoyed many activities and had wonderful friends. Their time in Virginia was filled soaking up time with great-grandchildren. Their summers in Wells, since 1987, they also enjoyed many activities and had wonderful friends. One of Bob’s favorites was to watch the sun rise over the ocean.
Bob is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Martha, who was his high school sweetheart and constant companion; his sisters, Sandra Wilber of Arlington, Texas, and Cindy Salvatelli of Leominster, Mass.; and his five beloved children: his son, Scott Wilber and his wife, Andrea Johnston, of Keene, and their three children, Liz, Robbie and Becca; his daughter, Wendy Wilber Dittrich and husband, Blake, of Virginia Beach, Va.,, and their two children, Cody and Cara; his daughter, Jodi Wilber Bland, of Plymouth, Minn., and her two children, Madison and Spenser; his son, Ryan Wilber and his wife, Nina Hamilton Wilber, of Atascadero, Calif., and their daughter, Elizabeth; his daughter, Kim Ann Ahlberg of Alstead her husband, Nils, and their daughter, Peighton; as well as five great-grandsons, Camden, Carter, Colton, Tavian, and Jacob. In addition to his wife, sisters, and all listed above, he is survived by brothers-in-law, Fred Salvatelli, Jack Little and sister-in-law, Polly Waldron; niece, Sarah and her husband, Adam, and their daughters, Lily and Emma, and niece, Tara; and nephew, Corey and his wife, Julie, and their children, Jack, Taylor and Reese.
The family would like to invite all who knew, revered and loved Bob to a time of visitation at Foley Funeral Home, 49 Court St., Keene on Monday, Aug. 26. Visitation will be from 4 until 7 p.m. A celebration of life is being planned for spring of 2020, also in Keene. For more information, or to share memories and condolences, please visit: www.facebook.com/bob.wilber.3 or www.foleyfuneralhome.com.
In remembrance, feel free to make a donation in Bob’s name to a Shriner’s Hospital for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, Fla. 33607 or Special Olympics of New Hampshire, 650 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101-2508.
The Foley Funeral Home is assisting the family with these arrangements.