ROBERT LEONARD SILVERNELL rode his favorite horse, Sunset, into the arms of our heavenly Father on Sunday, October 29, 2023. He was at home with much of the family he dearly loved. A legend to his family, friends, and colleagues, he was called Robert, Bob, Bobby and Uncle Bobby to all who loved and respected him. Born on January 17, 1940, he was the youngest and last of six (Jack, Betty, Geraldine, Ken and Carol) who were the children of Earl and Lillian Silvernell of Cincinnati.
Bob was born in Cincinnati where he chased his dreams of boating on the Ohio River, driving fast cars, and being wholly devoted to family and friends. Helping manage his family’s business as a teen, he could be found setting up and breaking down carnival rides, servicing slot machines, and being a resource to small and large family businesses in the area. Bobby was the enforcer, ensuring things ran smoothly and issues (as well as troublemakers) were handled.
Family, friends, cars, and horses were closest to his heart, in that order, and have always been part of his life.
Not surprising, Bob was behind the wheel in March 1959 when he met the love of his life. He was driving his friend Jack’s 1958 Chevy convertible when he saw a beautiful girl in a car at the corner of Fourth and Vine in Cincinnati. Carol Sitler was in her friend Joyce’s 1953 Chevy Coupe. She was attending nursing school at Christ Hospital School of Nursing and they were on their way back to the dorm when Bob was captivated. It was by the grace of God they met as their paths were not likely to cross anywhere but in transit. Their ordained partnership, committed love, and strong faith would guide them through life’s many challenges during their 62 years of marriage.
There were so very many things he did well. From fabrication, construction, woodworking, vehicle engine assembly as well as vehicle design and painting, Bob had a following of friends who joined him, learned from him, and respected him. He was loved as a friend, a father or as the leader of the pack.
Bob and Carol built several homes, including a cliffside home in Puerto Rico, a cabin in North Carolina, and a home in Briggs, Texas. They also owned and operated a dairy farm in Indiana. Where Bob drove a school bus and serviced as boys counselor at church summer camp.
In 1983, Bob worked for General Electric as the Technical Services Manager in the Humacao, Puerto Rico plant, and supported the smaller factories in Maunabo and Arroyo. He managed the facilities maintenance, the technical support of the thermoset molding operations, the metal plating processes, quality departments and general engineering support for the production lines.
In 1985, the family moved into a house in Palmas del Mar and Dale joined the Army. Bob's work was the same, but he began dreaming of reopening "The Southside,” which was the plant in Patillas, PR.
In 1992, his dream to reopen the Patillas plant became reality and Bob continued working in this position until he left Puerto Rico in May of 1994. That is when he accepted the same position in Mebane, North Carolina. There Bob and Carol built their cabin and stayed until Bob retired in 2002.
They moved to Texas to be closer to their daughter, Debbie and her family. That is where they met fellow car enthusiasts who also became a second family, often meeting up at Dairy Queen and at local car shows. Restoring classic cars was a hobby--Bob handled the engines and body, and Carol brought her talents to the interior. Together, they restored dozens of classic cars, including El Caminos, Corvettes, and Roadsters.
Famous for his sayings, his family kept a running list that will live on. Upon calling someone back after they had walked away, he’d often ask, “How far away would you have been if I hadn’t called you back?”
Their two children, Debbie (Gilbert) and Dale (Yoyo), enjoyed all the adventures of having a dad like Bob. His grandchildren, Robert, Travis, Nicole, Andrea, Teresa, and Justin, along with 22 beloved nieces and nephews, will forever cherish memories of a legendary man who was larger than life. Playing cards, working together on projects (at any of their houses), and traveling to enjoy time together marked the most special and memorable moments in life.
Never without his stainless steel Stanley cup, Bob was always willing to teach anyone who wanted to learn and was truly generous in sharing his knowledge. Everyone who knew him is better because of his love, talents and work ethic, which meant even vacations included at least one project and one reminder to “get back to work, because we’re burning daylight.” He held court at the head of every table, was the life of the party, and was the man who accomplished the impossible.