Robert Francis Northrup

  • Born: April 24, 1921
  • Died: May 1, 2020
  • Location:

Dunn-Givnish Funeral Home

378 South Bellevue Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047

Tel. (215) 757-3331

Tribute & Message From The Family


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!"

Epilogue

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.


Condolence & Memory Journal

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Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Veteran's Day Tribute

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. Bob, as he was known to family and friends, grew up in Pennington, New Jersey. Six months since his death my father finally joined his maternal grandparents, William and Henrietta Roth, his mother Ella Roth, and his first wife, my mother, Virginia Hart Northrup as we committed his ashes for burial in Ewing Cemetery. His interment took place Friday, November 6, halfway between All Saints Day, November 1, and Veterans Day, November 11.

My Dad is remembered both as a child of God, lifelong member of the Morrisville Presbyterian Church, and as a seventy-four-year veteran of WWII. Dad was one of the last of the Greatest Generation and always proud of his service to his country in the US Navy during World War II. He entered into active service July 22, 1942 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.

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.

We remember you today, Dad, for your devotion as our father and grandfather, and for your lifelong service to church, community, and country.

Posted by Kathie Platt - Beaumont, TX - Daughter   November 11, 2020

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All Saint's Day Prayer on the occasion of my father-in-law's interment:

We give thanks for: Robert Northrup, our beloved father and grandfather, son, brother and husband, and we remember and honor him.

Bob, we know you are with us in spirit and that you will never be forgotten.

We give thanks to God for you and for those who have gone on before.

We trust in the hope of resurrection and the promise of new life in Christ.

We know that in our grief and celebration that you, God, are with us through it all and we are not alone.

So today we give thanks for Bob and we remember that we too are saints and heirs of Christ's church and we seek to live out that legacy in the name of Jesus Christ in whom love lives forever. Amen.

Posted by Michael Platt - Beaumont, TX - Family   November 11, 2020

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Emily's Reflection On Interment Day:

Dear Grandpop,

Thank you for the big hugs. Thank you for Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and solitare. A bowl of ice cream before bedtime, sweet corn on the cob, and fresh tomatoes from the garden. Thank you for ferry rides, trips to the family farm where my mom grew up, long drives along the Delaware, and fresh apple cider from Styers Orchard. I loved it when you played your sax, and performed show tunes for us in the living room or on stage. Thank you for inviting me to sing along. You were a Ham! I loved your corny jokes. It always felt so good to laugh with you. Thank you for sharing your gizmos and gadgets with me, playing with me and the flying monkey in the backyard, and scaring me with that gorilla halloween mask when I was young. You have taught me the importance, and joys, of staying a big kid at heart. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for sharing your happy life with me. The walk down memory lane is filled with melody, sweet days and laughter. I love you Grandpop! Will miss you so much!

Posted by Emily Platt - Houston, TX - Grandchild   November 11, 2020

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My memories of Grandpop are of sunny afternoons lounging on outdoor patio furniture, surrounded by beautiful flowers, overlooking a pond filled with wild Canadian geese, having jolly conversations. Eating strawberry Bryers ice cream every night at 10 pm before bed. Of him falling asleep on my shoulder while siting on the couch completing a crossword puzzle in the late afternoon. Or sitting around the dining table eating his homemade meatloaf while he tells us the story again about meeting Grandma, how she almost married a count, but was glad she found him instead. Of him spontaneously bursting into show tunes to provide some entertainment to enliven a quiet afternoon. Of him driving us around for hours, up River Road through Bucks County, then across the river to Pennington, his childhood home. Of hearing the same stories year after year of Delaware River floods and his childhood and mom's childhood. Of walking slowly hand in hand with me. That was the way he transferred his love, through holding hands. Of him balancing a toy eagle on his nose or pulling a coin out from behind my ear, even well into my twenties. Every evening watching game shows, especially Wheel of Fortune. He was always incredibly happy to see us and always cried when we left. He made us feel like we were an extension of himself and a part of him. He made mundane tasks like laundry or paperwork seem important and exciting and was always stressed about politics. He loved to make other people laugh no matter how ridiculous it made him look. He always wore his emotions on his sleeve. He was adorable, childlike in the best of ways. He was truly a kid at heart. He made our lives beautiful and showed us the way he saw the world when we were with him, which was through rose-colored glasses.

Posted by Laura Platt - Astoria, NY - Grandchild   May 13, 2020

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A Memory: Malapropisms

One of the oddest things I ever learned from my dad was the art of imprecision. Although a very smart man, Dad loved to call things by names close enough. In other words, all cats were she, all dogs were he, and we could never convince him otherwise. So effective was my father's employ of malapropisms that to this very day I find myself calling things as they are not: whimsically saying, this for that or calling things slightly off what they should mean. For instance, Can you bring me the bat? when I actually mean spatula, or saying spear for pen. Something as non-sensical as that. But if I get close enough, everyone understands what I mean. Although as a writer I love and am indebted to precision, I have been influenced so thoroughly by Dad's habits that, at least with family, I lapse into this amusing idiom calling things as they are not. Taking liberty with our languagethis humorous recklessness with the mother tongue is a constant reminder of how my dad has imprinted me. And a very good memory. My unconscious appropriation of this silly habit is an unexpected tribute to the funny guy Bob, proverbial prankster, entertaining teaser, joyful joker. Comedian. Indeed, whenever I lapse into imprecision, I catch a glimpse of the guy who was Dad.

Posted by Kathie Platt - Beaumont, TX - Daughter   May 12, 2020

It was hard losing my mom, then marrying and moving half way across the country to Texasaway from Dadall in the same year. Texas has provided adventure in abundance. But I never lost my fervor for my Yankee home. Whether driving cross country 1500 miles (or flying the friendly skies), returning to my roots was always a thrill. Most of all, I remember Dad meeting us at the airport, train station, or in his driveway, his face lighting up the best homecoming anyone could wish for! Grandpop' and Glady always planned a full schedule of events to make our visits, which included his two young granddaughters, Emily and Laura, memorable. No visit was complete without a trip to the Jersey shore and Grandma's famous cucumber sandwiches! Dad never tired of touring us around the countryside, through his hometown of Pennington, past the Hart Farm where Mom had grown up and I had romped through woods and barns with my cousins throughout childhood. Dad was as at home in New Jersey as anywhere and we always loved the walk, or drive, down memory lane. Then crossing the Delaware at Lambertville we'd make our way back through the Bucks County countryside exploring New Hope, Peddlers' Village,Washington Crossing, favorite haunts imprinted on our hearts and minds. Our journey would always end with a drive past my childhood home, 1013 Evergreen, on the boundary between Yardley and Morrisville, just above the Delaware River and canal. Dad loved to entertain us with his favorite tune, singing with characteristic gusto, I'm from Morrisville, I'm from Morrisville, On that great Judgment Day, I will rise up and say, I'm from Morrisville.' As I re-read the lyrics to that ditty, I feel the fidelity my father had for the land of his childhood, and his adulthood, living across two states as if they were one, tied together by the Delaware, that glistening silver current running through our lives, to which Dad and I frequently returned in that sacred father-daughter act of communion and memory.

Posted by Kathie Platt - Beaumont, TX - Daughter   May 07, 2020

"I remember asking Bob if I could marry Kathie and his wry reply, 'Do I have any choice?' Of course, I had been seeing Kathie for eight years so there was no surprise here. But Bob liked to play hard to get. His marriage to Gladys Speakman, after the death of his first wife, (Kathie's mom), took place the same year I married Kathie, so we could always say we were married the same year! Bob was always a ham and an amateur actor, and Glady loved to tell a good tale. So when the couple traveled or socialized they loved nothing more than entertaining their friends at the bridge table, in a church musical review, practically anywhere they could find an audience. When Bob and Glady would get into a crowded elevator, or meet each other on the dance floor of a cruise ship, they liked to pretend that they were meeting for the first time and shock onlookers as if Bob was picking up' this elegant lady he had just met! Glady loved playing along with Bob and surprising the crowd with their liberated' elder version of a casual meet-up, which, of course, it was not because they were actually married and just putting on a good show to keep life interesting. And people guessing....Bob, your fun sense of humor will always be remembered!"

Posted by Michael Platt - Beaumont, TX - Family   May 06, 2020

Our condolences to the entire Northrup Family on the passing of Robert. He was a good man, one that we were proud to know.

Posted by John & Traci Girman - Bordentown, NJ - Family   May 05, 2020

So sorry for your loss. What a great legacy he leaves. Prayers for your family during this difficult time.
Love, Josh, Tanya, Daniel, Micah & Caleb Pfeiffer

Posted by Tanya Pfeiffer - PA - Friend   May 05, 2020


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