Obituary: Robert B. Irvine, Jr.
May 13, 2016
Robert B. Irvine, Jr.
From Kansas Roots to NATO Diplomat
On May 7, 2016 Robert (Rob) Irvine passed away peacefully at home in Breckenridge, Colorado after a valiant fight with kidney failure and stomach cancer. Rob was born in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1941. He grew up with his brother Bill and sister Marilyn in an idyllic small town. His father owned a Skelly oil distributorship and gas station, Chrysler car dealership and floral company and Rob proudly worked beside his father at each business during his youth. Rob graduated from the University of Notre Dame, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, where he also completed the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Among his positions during his distinguished 30 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, Rob was an International Politico/Military Affairs Officer and Commander, Missile Operations (Minuteman) Staff Officer. He was one of the writers of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) while assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was Chief of Nuclear Operations for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. Rob retired as a full Colonel and, among his awards, Rob received four Defense Meritorious Service Medals. Upon retiring from the Air Force, Rob worked five years with the Office of the Secretary of Defense highlighted by his position as Director of Counterproliferation, responsible for policy to keep U.S. Armed Forces safe from chemical and biological weapons. For his work, Rob was awarded the Meritorious Civilian Service medal. From 1998-2004 Rob was a NATO diplomat in Brussels, Belgium. As a member of the International Staff, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Policy and Director of Nuclear Policy. He was instrumental in creating the WMD policy center at NATO and for starting NATO/Russian talks. Ever humble and the quintessential gentleman, Rob was well-respected by representatives of the 28 NATO countries. In retirement, Rob found joy in giving back to the Summit County community as an active, valued member of Summit Rotary, St. Mary's Catholic Church, Elks Lodge 2561, et. al.. Rob is survived by his beloved wife of 25 years, Debra and their very special combined family. His daughter Megan and sons, Rob (wife Louisa), Tim (wife Cathy), Andy, and Byron (partner Leigh Anne). His precious grandchildren Isabel, Sonia, Evelyn, Harper, Alice and Oscar. He is also survived by his loving sister Marilyn, nieces, nephews and cousins. Rob will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.