More detail on this person: Robert passed away
peacefully surrounded by his three children. Bob
was born in Cleveland, OH, as the only child of
Mary DeSantis, a beloved mother and grandmother.
He attended Benedictine High, and thereafter
attended John Carroll University and enrolled in
the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) -- where
his love of the military was founded. He married
Peggy Pech Johnson in 1959, and thereafter
attended Officer Training in Fort Eustis, VA.
Graduating at the top of his class, he was selected for Army Aviation Flight School, where he was trained as a helicopter pilot, in Camp Wolters, TX, and Fort Rucker, AL -- and his life-long love of helicopters began. His Army unit was then stationed at Fort Ord, CA, until he departed for Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. There, he flew many missions, was downed several times without significant injury, and received an Air Medal 7th Oak Leaf Cluster.
He returned to Ohio where he flew and sold helicopters for several companies (Goodyear, Fazios and Bell Helicopter), until Hughes Helicopter brought his family back to California in the 1970s. Bob and Peggy raised their three children in North Tustin. Over the past few decades, Bob became the loving father-in-law to Eric Olofson (Jill) and Laurie DeSantis (Jeff) and, maybe most personally significant of all of his accomplishments, became the beloved Grandpa to Jenny, Lexi, Dani, Jackie, JR, James and Grace. He proudly displayed decals on his car for each college his grandchildren attended, and his greatest love was hearing his grandchildren's stories and accounts of their lives.
Bob had a fondness for German-built cars, especially Porsches. He owned and restored at least 15 different Porsches, usually several at a time, which he maintained meticulously. Even at the age of 78, he had two on-going Porsche restoration projects in his garage. When he was not discussing his Porsches, his family, the military, or anything Republican-related (Trump!), he loved to talk about his two best friends, Ken Stanton, who trained and flew with him from Florida, and Bob Pech, his brother-in-law from Ohio.
Bob was the ultimate patriot, who loved his country and loved serving his country. In honor of Bob and in lieu of flowers, Bob would want you to greet and shake the hand of every armed service members you pass, saying "Thank you for your service", as Bob always did and as he taught his children and grandchildren to do. Any donations can be made to his favorite charity, the NightStalkers, which supports the families of military helicopter pilots: www.savannahherosoar.org/donate.html. Bob lived life his way and will be missed by all. His children thank their mother Peggy and Bob's longtime friend, Martha Bass, for their friendship with Bob until the end.
His Funeral with Military Honors is set for Saturday, January 23, 1:00 p.m. at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach.
Thanks to all who touched his life, from his children: Jeff DeSantis, Jill DeSantis Olofson and Lisa DeSantis.
Published in Orange County Register on Jan. 21, 2016
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 01/08/2023
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