When a close friend passes away, no matter how much you expected it, you always experience a shock.
This was the case with me last Thursday when I had a call from my son, Todd, telling me this bad news about Robert Lance (Bob) O’Neal.
I have only known Bob for about 15 years, but we became very close because of our love for photography. We first met when we were judging a photo contest.
We quickly became friends and after the judging was over, I suggested we start a photography club in Wake Forest. Bob was all for it. I had just retired from being publisher of The Wake Weekly and was ready to “shoot” images of my choice instead of always something for the newspaper. Bob had recently retired from NASA.
Surprisingly, within months we actually started the Wake Forest Camera Club in 1999 with monthly meetings in an old arts building (now torn down) which was close to the Town Hall on East Owen St.
The building was cold in winter and warm in summer, but we managed to hold interesting meetings and contests with about 8 or 10 members. The club is now meeting in The Forks Cafeteria and has grown to about 42 members.
Bob was always active and he was a good photographer — winning his share of the top awards.
He adored his lovely wife, Ann Rey Burbank O’Neal and she also became a club member. One of the best images Bob ever made was of Ann sitting in a lounge chair with lamp light strategically placed to make the image unforgettable.
Bob and I often went on photography field trips even if only half a dozen members went. We always were compatible, yet competitive and enjoyed each other’s company.
He also became a regular member of our breakfast club which meets every Thursday morning at The Border Restaurant on N. Main Street.
Bob loved his Wake Forest Presbyterian Church and was active in spearheading its marvelous Family Life Center, complete with a basketball court.
Bob was proud of his ”reserved” congregational seat on the aisle seat of the back row.
During the last few years, Bob used a cane and walker, and couldn’t get around as much as he wished, causing him to almost give up attendance at the camera club because he had so much trouble “shooting” photos.
He was proud of his time working at NASA from 1951 to 1998 except for active duty in the Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California for two years.
While with NASA, he worked at the Langley research Center in Hampton, Va and the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He was involved in several projects, including Project Mercury, Project Apollo, Pioneer 10 and 11, and the Long Duration Exposure Facility which was launched and retrieved by the Space Shuttle.
It was quite a bit of excitement for a young man who grew up on a Wake Crossroads farm and attended Rolesville schools.
Yes, Bob will be missed, but all those who knew him will keep many fond memories.
This Friday the 13th is lucky day if you love fish
Here’s some good news for all you fish fry lovers:
Friday, September 13, will turn out to be your lucky day if you partake of the nearly famous fish fry at Wake Forest United Methodist Church between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Besides two golden brown sizzling pieces of filet of flounder, you can enjoy tasty potatoes, delicious slaw, and a handful of those wonderful hush puppies.
You may dine-in, take out conveniently by driving through at the church Family Life Center located at 905 S. Main Street near the intersection of S. Main and the new 98 Bypass. Look for direction signs in the yard.
The proceeds of this project will benefit the International Mission in building a new Methodist Church, St.Peter’s on the Rock in Hellshire, Jamaica.
For free delivery of six or more plates, call either Bill Brown at 919-562-0486 or me (Bob) at 919-556-3059 before 10 a.m. Friday.
Quote of the week
It is of some comfort to us both that the term is not very distant at which we are to deposit in the same cerement our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost, and whom we still love and never lose again. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, on the occasion of Adam’s wife’s death, November 13, 1818.
—Bob Allen, publisher emeritus of The Wake Weekly, welcomes and encourages your comments or suggestions at 919-556-3059 or [email protected]