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Robert Francis Northrup

Obituary for Robert Francis Northrup

April 24, 1921 - May 1, 2020
| Age 99


Robert Francis Northrup, born April 24, 1921 in Mount Vernon, New York to Frank L. Northrup and Ella Roth Northrup, died peacefully May 1, 2020, at age 99, in Langhorne, PA. Robert was preceded in death by his parents Frank and Ella Northrup, originally of New York; by his first wife, Virginia Hart Northrup and their only son, David L. Northrup, both of Morrisville PA; by his older sister, Jean Northrup Merrill, of Tempe AZ; by his second wife, Gladys Speakman Northrup, of Yardley PA; and by two stepsons, William Speakman of Bristol PA and Donald Speakman of Grayson MD.

Bob, as he was known to family and friends, grew up in Pennington, New Jersey, raised by his mother, Ella Roth Northrup; his maternal grandmother, Henrietta M. Roth; and his older sister, Jean (having lost his father, Frank L. Northrup, at age 2). Raised in a musical family, Robert developed an early love for singing and performing. He played the saxophone in the high school jazz band, and performed in many musical reviews and church musicals throughout his lifetime.

Robert is one of the last of the Greatest Generation and was always proud of his service to his country in the US Navy during WWII. He entered into active service July 22, 1942 (attending Signal and Turret School) and served as an Aviation Ordnanceman in the American Theatre, Panama Canal. He served three years, five months, and received an Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy January 13, 1946 (Lido Beach, Long Island, NY). On May 16, 2005 Robert was awarded the Mercer County Military Service Medal for his courage and service to the Armed Forces of the United States during World War II. He also received recognition from the Bucks County Commissioners for WWII Distinguished Service and a Certificate of Appreciation for World War II Heroes from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

After the war Robert received his undergraduate degree in Business (and later his MBA) from Temple University in Philadelphia. He began his career in business accounting at Congoleum-Nairn in Trenton, NJ, and later served as a school business manager for both Willow Grove and Souderton Area School Districts in Pennsylvania. He was a proud 40-year Emeritus member of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).

Robert and his first wife, Virginia, a registered nurse, (both originally of Pennington) were also lifelong members of the Morrisville Presbyterian Church and Bob served for many years as both a deacon and trustee. Bob and "Ginny" were also active members of Tri-F, as well as avid Bridge Club members, adventurous campers and passionate beachgoers who spent many summers vacationing with their daughter, Kathie, and son, David, at Long Beach Island in New Jersey.

After the early death of his first wife, Virginia, Robert married realtor Gladys Willar Speakman of Yardley and together the couple traveled extensively throughout New England, Europe, especially Switzerland, and the Caribbean, during their retirement years. After Gladys' death in December 2011, and three decades together, Robert moved from Yardley Corners into Independent Living in Attleboro Retirement Village in Langhorne, PA. There he continued his lifelong passion for theatre as an enthusiastic member of the Drama Team, performing in many musicals during his years there. Bob also loved billiards, bowling and swimming, along with entertaining family and friends with tall tales, funny stories and jokes to liven up the occasion.

In May 2014 Robert married his third wife, Agnes "Sue" Van Orden, also a resident of Attleboro in Langhorne, and they shared almost six years together before his unexpected death due to COVID19. Robert is survived by wife Agnes, and by stepdaughters Kay Van Orden Forbragh of Amherst NY; Roselyn Van Orden Doverspike and husband Charles of Round Rock TX; Marilyn Van Orden Watson and husband Kelley of Yardley PA; and stepson Rick Van Orden and Karen Simmons of Stockton NJ; along with numerous step-grandchildren and great grandchildren. Agnes' granddaughter, Ashley Watson Donlon, reflects: "He was a great man! We will definitely miss him and his sense of humor! We were lucky to get to have him as a part of our family."

Robert is also survived by the family of his second wife, Gladys Speakman Northrup, formerly of Yardley, PA. Surviving stepchildren include: Trisha Speakman (wife of Donald Speakman) of Grasonville MD; Thomas Speakman and wife Sue, of Still Pond, MD and their children Tommy and Patty Ann; Suzanne Speakman Murray and husband Neal of Hilton Head SC, and their sons Daniel, Michael and Sean; and several step-great grandchildren. Suzanne Murray writes, "We are all saddened by his passing. Our hearts are heavy. He was a special Grandpa."

Finally, Robert is survived by his only daughter, Kathie Northrup Platt and son-in-law, Michael Kelley Platt, of Beaumont, Texas; granddaughters, Emily Clare Platt and fiancé, Chris Priebe of Houston, TX; and Laura Katherine Platt, of Astoria, NY; daughter-in-law, Chrissy Girman Northrup, and two grandsons, Devon and Jake Northrup, of Morrisville, PA; nephew Gerry Merrill and wife Sandy of Tempe AZ; nephew John Merrill of Boston MA; niece Cheryl Hart Wyatt and husband Lindsey of Cove City NC; niece Susan Hart Hefty and husband Harry of Watsontown PA; and nephew Daniel Hart and wife Jean of Riverside NJ; along with numerous grand nieces and nephews.

Robert's oldest granddaughter, Emily, remembers her Grandfather this way: "Grandpop did love his show tunes and knew how to put on a good show! The walk down memory lane is filled with melody and laughter. He was such a ham! A big kid! How he loved to have fun, tell a good story or a fabulously corny joke. I love you, Grandpop! We will miss you so much!"


Six months after my 99-year-old father's death to COVID-19 last May, we finally obtained the proof we need to bury his ashes beside his first wife, Virginia Hart Northrup; his mother, Ella Roth Northrup; and maternal grandparents, William and Henrietta Roth. It was a pristine blue and green Saturday in early November, falling providentially between All Saints Day, Sunday, November 1, and Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11. The positioning of these two holidays on either side of my father's interment had a special meaning to me, wrapping his death and departure in the vestments of his faith and his patriotism.

A faithful church-goer all his life, no one sang the hymns of the faith more lustily, nor enjoyed the fellowship of the saints more convivially than my outgoing father, who always loved to perform for friends and family, however small or great his stage. Now we memorialized my father by fulfilling his wishes to be laid to rest alongside his closest relatives and ancestors. Finally he would join the wife of his youth, his mother, and maternal grandmother and grandfather, beloved saints of his childhood and midlife.

In the approach to Veterans Day, November 11, we also celebrated my father's service as a veteran of foreign wars. When he departed on May Day 2020, he had missed, by seven months, his 75th anniversary as a veteran of the US Navy in World War II. This year, for the first time since we have known this proud navy man with all the harrowing and funny war stories to tell, we would not celebrate with him—but in memory of him—as one of the last of the Greatest Generation. Not coincidentally his ashes lay enshrined in a rectangular, navy blue marble urn, its deep blue so deep it seemed to reflect the depths of the sea itself. Later an engraved footplate will be added to his grave to commemorate his military service, along with a brass flag holder, tributes from the Veterans Administration on behalf of those who have served.

What made this interment so unusual, the funeral director shared with us afterwards, was his first ever attempt to Zoom in the departed's family from 1500 miles away as the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, sweeping the country with thousands more cases and deaths. Remotely, my husband, daughters and I remembered my father and sang and prayed. Remotely we watched as that shining blue marble box was removed from its stand alongside the gravestone bearing my mother's name, and lowered into the small concrete vault that would protect it from the elements. Remotely we watched as cemetery staff covered the box with its concrete lid, then lifted shovelfuls of rich Jersey dirt out of the bed of a small mule truck, filling in that shallow grave. Six months since his death to COVID-19, Robert F. Northrup's ashes finally found their way to Lot 419, Section A, resting at last in the plot adjoining my mother in that sylvan, ancient cemetery in Ewing, under a cloudless autumn sky. Rest In Peace, Dad.

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Dunn-Givnish Funeral Home

378 South Bellevue Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
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