Bob Colkitt, 84, of Indiana, formerly of Plumville, went to be with the Lord surrounded by his family on March 9, 2013, in Sarasota Fla. Bob passed peacefully after age caught up with him. He was born on Feb. 24, 1929, in Punxsutawney to Clarence and Sarah Couser Colkitt.
At the age of 15, Bob began a long and successful career in sales by working as a commissioned sales clerk at Montgomery Ward. Bob frequently worked two jobs all through high school. He was the class president and captain of the Punxsutawney High School basketball and football teams when he graduated in 1947.
Bob wanted to be a lawyer, but his parents instead told him he should focus on making money instead of going to college. On April 5, 1951, Bob married Mary Jean Brant of Plumville at the manse of the Plumville Presbyterian Church. In 2001, Bob and Mary Jean had the reception they never had, when they celebrated 50 years of marriage at the Chestnut Ridge Golf Club.
Bob began a lifelong career as an entrepreneur in 1951, when he bought an ice cream stand near Punxsutawney, where he quickly increased sales and profits by adding flavors and toppings. Bob began an agency with State Farm Insurance out of a tiny office in his Plumville home in 1959.
With no policyholders, Bob began knocking on doors all over Armstrong and Indiana counties. With a great knack for names and an exceptionally optimistic personality, Bob started to build a highly successful insurance agency. For four years, he traveled to Pittsburgh two nights a week so he could earn a Chartered Life Underwriting designation in 1969.
His knowledge of the life insurance business served him well. In 1975, he built a commercial office in Home, Pa., which he joked, was State Farm’s new “home office.” Bob’s insurance agency grew rapidly. Over the next 20 years, Bob sold over $125 million in life insurance. In 1986, out of over 10,000 total agents, he was one of State Farm’s top 25 life insurance agents in the entire U.S.
Bob was an entrepreneur who built businesses in coal and gas, equipment leasing, health care and the automotive industry. He founded multiple public health care companies, including National Medical Financial Services, Inc., and he developed medical laboratories and surgery centers. He also spearheaded businesses abroad, including India.
Bob was a registered Libertarian and a firm believer in the free market. That belief spurred him to support local businesses throughout his life. He was an independent stock market investor and trader for over 50 years. Bob often said about success, “The Lord loves a cheerful giver,” and “The more you give, the more you shall receive.”
Bob retired from State Farm in 1997 after 38 years in the insurance business, yet he continued to remember the names and faces of his thousands of policyholders for many years after he retired. But Bob continued to be active in his multiple business ventures and stock market activities until the day he died.
Bob was also a very proud father and grandfather. One of the happiest days of his life was when his son Douglas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with an M.D. and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business on the same day after only four years. Doug chose his dad as his best man when he married Joanne Russell of Philadelphia three years later. Doug, his wife Joanne and grandchildren, Michelle, Kevin, D.R., and D.R.’s wife Laura Colkitt live in Sarasota, Fla.
Bob's daughter, Marcy Colkitt, lives in Indiana, Pa., with her husband, Paul Castro, and their children Grace, Paul and Michael Castro. Marcy helped fulfill her dad's desires by becoming a lawyer. Bob was equally proud at Marcy’s gradation from law school at the University of Pennsylvania. Bob left a generational Ivy League connection to the University of Pennsylvania. His grandson D.R. graduated from Penn and his granddaughter Grace is currently a student there. Bob’s constant encouragement, drive and financial support allowed the educational success of his children and grandchildren.
He was a regular fixture at Marcy’s law practice. Bob said that it was the only job he’d had where he did not get paid and where he had to buy everyone lunch, and he loved it.
Bob enjoyed decades of worldwide travel, always with an entourage of family. He was keen to expose his children and grandchildren to the world. Twice a year, the Colkitt clan went on major travel odysseys. Destinations included every continent and virtually every country in the world. Bob saw Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 79, lost his glasses at the pyramids of Egypt, walked on the Great Wall of China and argued about the quality of hamburgers at McDonald’s in Japan.
He was a member of the Plumville Presbyterian Church for over 55 years, where he served as an elder, a deacon and a member of the session. He was also a member of the Plumville Lions Club and a Free Mason.
Throughout his life, Bob gave generously to many organizations and, more importantly, to individuals and families in need that he encountered in his lifetime journey.
In addition to his beloved wife, children and grandchildren, Bob is survived by his sister, Shirley Bing of Youngstown, Ohio.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Howard; his sister Lois Barnett; and his great friend of over 40 years, Dick Flickinger.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2013, at Bowser-Minich Funeral Home, Indiana, Pa. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at Bowser Minich, with the Rev. Kathryn Ward Stear officiating.
A celebration of Bob Colkitt's life will be held at his daughter Marcy's home at 176 Timbersprings Lane, Indiana, the afternoon of March 16. All who knew and encountered Bob Colkitt as a friend are welcome to attend.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Plumville Presbyterian Church c/o John Gandolfi, CPA, PO Box 176, Marion Center, Pa., 15759, or to the charity that Bob said was one of the best, The Salvation Army.