CLAYTON, NY — Robert W. Kittle, 92, Clayton, NY, passed away Monday, March 16, 2020, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Bob was born April 17, 1927, in Clayton, the son of the late Wallace and Florence Phillips Kittle. A graduate of Clayton High School in 1944, education was a valued part of Bob’s life.
With ten years of higher education, including Clarkson University and University of Rochester, Bob proudly concluded his studies at Cornell University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Husbandry in 1954.
He entered the US Navy on May 8, 1945, serving in World War II. He received the American Theater and Victory Medals and was honorably discharged as a Motor Machinist’s Mate, Third Class on June 7, 1946.
On Dec. 11, 1954, he married Beverley A. McKinley in a private ceremony in Buffalo, NY.
Returning from the service, Bob began a long and exciting career, first working in the chemistry department at Kodak. This was followed by a time in Chicago at Swift & Co., a renowned meat packing plant.
In 1958, Bob’s expertise in agriculture brought him back to Clayton, when Merle Youngs hired Bob as Farm Manager at Zenda Farms. Bob later continued in this position under John MacFarlane, also managing cattle on Carleton Island. Under Bob’s direction, Zenda Farms had one of the largest active beef cattle operations in the East. Bob loved his days on the farm and spoke fondly of his time spent passing on his work ethic and knowledge to the numerous young men that followed.
After a brief health setback, Bob was no longer able to meet the day-to-day physical demands of working on the farm. He quickly transitioned into the business world of Youngs Drug Products, also owned by John MacFarlane. Bob was initially in charge of all Trojan operations at the Atlanta, San Francisco, and New Zealand plants, where he first served as Research Director of Animal Skins before becoming a vice president. He ended his career building a centralized distribution facility in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the 1985 acquisition of Youngs Drug Products by Carter Wallace, with whom he remained employed until retiring in 1989.
In recent years, Bob could be found at the Thousand Islabds Museum as a part of their History at Noon, where he loved to talk about ice harvesting as a child with his father and the Kittle Brothers’ Ice business.
Bob was an active member of Christ Episcopal Church, the American Legion Post 821, the Clayton Cemetery Association, and a former member of the Clayton Lions Club. Bob was also one of the original owners of Frontenac Crystal Springs.
Throughout his life, Bob enjoyed the pleasures of gardening and had a deep love and appreciation for the art of cooking and all the camaraderie that came with it. He valued his time dining at local establishments with family and friends. This Christmas, Bob self-published a family cookbook with some of his favorite recipes to pass his traditions along to his grandchildren.
Throughout the years, Bob was considered a mentor to many, and in his final days, he was still teaching important life lessons to his beloved family.
Bob’s gentle demeanor, brilliant mind, and ability to love unconditionally will be deeply missed. He was the soul of our family, taken from us all too soon.
Along with Beverley, his wife of 65 years, Bob is survived by his daughter, Kendra E. Kittle, Clayton, and a son, George E. (Patricia E.) Kittle, Clayton. Bob was the loving grandfather of Mark, Adam, and Nathan Harrington; Kassandra Kittle Mallette, Jessica Kittle Hoag, and Kolby Kittle. He will also be dearly missed by his 11 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Bob was predeceased by a son, David R. Kittle, August 5, 1988, and a sister, Mary Cupernall.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a time and date to be announced.
Arrangements are entrusted with Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Clayton.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s name may be made to any of the following: the T. I. Museum in memory of Dr. John Eppolito, 312 James St.; TIERS, PO Box 524, both in Clayton, NY 13624; or Hospice of Jefferson County, 1398 Gotham St., Watertown, NY 13601.
Online condolences to his family may be posted at www.cummingsfuneral.com.