Robert Van Wingerden

Robert George Van Wingerden, 89, formerly of Emerald Isle, passed away Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, the son of Rev. George and Emma Lou Van Wingerden, Bob's early years, and his schooling through eleventh grade, were in Cortland, Ohio and he graduated from Girard High School in Girard, Ohio. During the Korean War he enlisted in the US Air Force and served as a control tower operator at the Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany. Following discharge, he met the lovely Shirley Faye Lambert and they were married in April, 1959. She remained his devoted and loving wife until his death, a span of over 62 years. They were blessed with the birth of a son, Robert Douglas in 1966 and a grandson, Cooper in 2007.

Bob received a BS degree in Engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan, an MS degree in Engineering Administration from Case institute of Technology (now Case-Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the Stanford University Executive Program. His career spanned 33 years with Packard Electric Division of General Motors Corporation in Warren, Ohio, and included many diverse positions including; Director of Industrial Engineering, Director of Materials Management, Director of Reliability and Quality Control, Acting Chief Engineer and General Sales Manager. The latter position included responsibility for leading the initial effort to grow internationally through acquisitions and joint ventures. In 1997, he was inducted into the Packard Electric Hall of Fame in recognition of his successful efforts in the globalization initiative.

In retirement, he became affiliated with the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and under their sponsorship had numerous extended consulting assignments with manufacturing enterprises in Russia, the Republic of Georgia and Thailand. On all of those assignments, he was accompanied by his wife, Shirley, who served as an informal “Good-Will Ambassador,” who frequently visited schools and met with teachers and students, many of whom had never met an American citizen.

In 1978-1982, he was a member, and one-term president, of the Howland School Board in Warren, Ohio. He was Chairman of three church boards; The First Christian Church of Girard, Ohio (where his father was pastor), the Howland Community Church in Warren, Ohio, and the United Methodist Church in Swansboro, North Carolina. During his latter years, he was a member of the United Methodist Church in John’s Creek, Georgia.

An avid pilot, he owned several airplanes and enjoyed extensive travel in North America with Shirley serving as co-pilot. In 1997, he was president of the Sportsman Pilot's Association, the world's oldest private flying club.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Shirley; his son, Douglas and wife Nikki of Suwanee, Georgia; and grandson, Cooper.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Margaret Ann Patterson of Worthington, Ohio. 

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