Robert (“Bobby”) Lester Wilmott, 76, a longtime resident of Keene, died Friday, June 12, 2020, after a period of failing health.
He was born in Norwalk, CT on January 26, 1944, the son of the late Beatrice (Beck) and Harold Wilmott, Sr. He briefly attended Norwalk schools and was homeschooled by his mother thereafter.
As an infant, Bobby contracted spinal meningitis and nearly lost his life, developing cerebral palsy as a result. When he was four, he was the poster child for the Connecticut Easter Seals Society. Bobby’s entire right side was paralyzed, yet he learned to walk and care for himself. His speech and cognition were both affected, yet Bobby made himself understood, lived for a time on his own with the support of good friends, and had a razor-sharp sense of humor.
In his younger days Bob often walked downtown from his home on Hillside Ave., and became known throughout the community. His gregarious and friendly nature made him a friend to many. His famous refrain of “You know me!” reflected his pride in knowing people wherever he went.
Bobby’s stepfather, Albert May, taught him woodworking skills including drilling and sawing, despite his physical disabilities, and Bobby kept a complete workshop in his basement for many years. He loved to tinker and fix things around the house and was good at it. He won trophies and ribbons for his participation in the Special Olympics, bowling, and baseball.
Bob began his work life at New Hope, New Horizons, where he spent 10 years in a sheltered workshop setting. He graduated to working in the outside world in 1985 when he was employed full-time at J.H. Dunning in Walpole. Subsequently, he spent many years as a lead bagger at SuperPlace, Edwards, and Sun Foods in Keene, where his packing expertise was so renowned that shoppers requested him by name. Most recently, Bobby worked for more than 15 years as a custodian at Home Healthcare Hospice and Community Services, where he made many friends among the staff.
Bobby and his mother were longtime members of the Beth-El Bible Church in Surry. In 1994, Bobby surprised his friends and family by proposing to his good friend, Elizabeth Thayer Laware. On October 22, 1994, Bobby and Betty wed in a heartwarming ceremony at the church and were happily married until Betty’s death in 2011.
Bob spent the last seven years of his life at the Keene Center Genesis Healthcare, where he loved hanging out at the nurses’ station and teasing the staff as they came and went. The Genesis staff cared for Bob with patience, warmth, and sensitivity, and truly became his family.
Bobby is survived by his niece, Sharon Wilmott Koshar, and her husband Glenn; his nephews, Rick Wilmott and Troy Wilmott, and Troy’s wife Jessica; his sister-in-law, Jean Barker; and several great-nephews and nieces. He is predeceased by his wife, Betty, and his brothers, Fred Wilmott and Harold Wilmott.
There will be a graveside service at the Gilsum Centennial Road Cemetery on Friday, July 17, at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that because of Bobby’s lifelong love of animals, contributions be made to the
Monadnock Humane Society
101 West Swanzey Rd.
Swanzey, NH 03446.
All services are under the care of Cheshire Family Funeral Chapel and Crematories, 44 Maple Ave., Keene, NH 03431. www.cheshirefamilyfh.com