Robert Ulrich, 95, of Estero, Fla., formerly of Sanibel, Fla., died on March 14, 2014 at Hope Hospice in Fort Myers.
He was born on March 25, 1918 in Jersey City, N.J., son of William and Cesira Buratti Ulrich, and married his high school sweetheart Anita Politi, with whom he lived his life for 75 years until her passing in November 2009. He is survived by their daughter Barbara Cassavell and her husband, Frank; five grandchildren; sixteen great grandchildren and one great, great granddaughter. His grandson, Frank Gerard Cassavell predeceased him in 1996.
Prior to entering World War II, he served in the National Guard and was then drafted in 1944 and served in the European Campaign in Italy, 617th Field Artillery Observation Battalion until the end of the war. Because he was Italian, he was often used as an interpreter.
Robert Ulrich. PHOTO PROVIDED.
Returning to New Jersey after the war he organized one of the first Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, the Bright-Burrows, to which he became its first commander.
Bob resumed his engineering career at the Acme Tool and Machine Company until 1957 and subsequently was employed by the Flintkote Company in New Jersey and New York in Research and Development. He invented three machines to produce building materials and obtained three patents for the company.
He, his wife, and daughter moved to Washington Township, N.J., in 1948 where he was active in town politics becoming the Road and Planning Board Commissioner for many years.
After retiring from the Flintkote Company he resumed his interest in the home building business and embarked on a career of building custom homes in Upper Saddle River, N.J., and Broward County, Fla. He and Anita retired to Sanibel Island, Fla., in 1985 but that wasn't the end of retirement.
His keen interest in airplanes and flying began in his early teens when his cousins Chet and Al Ulrich were test pilots at Teterboro, N.J., in the early years of aviation. It was in later years that Bob got his pilot's license and began flying. He owned two airplanes: the Stinson and the Cessna 172.
It was when Bob was in his seventies he embarked on a remarkable project: the building of his own airplane, the Dakota Hawk, which was subsequently demolished in hurricane Charley in 2004. The building of the Dakota Hawk II soon began with the help of his flying partners who were members of the Experimental Aviation Association, Chapter 66 in Fort Myers. The last few years, Bob and his partners were flying the Dakota Hawk II out of the Charlotte County Airport and at the same time building another airplane, the Celebrity Bi Plane.
His interests and hobbies were many and varied from building doll houses to real houses; building model airplanes to real airplanes; from his love for listening to music to playing the violin; his passion for reading; and his keen interest in sports from playing polo to golf and always the #1 Yankee fan. Mostly he will be remembered for being the greatest storyteller ever.
His life was inspiration for those who knew and loved him, leaving them memories of his life and love to cherish.
A Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St. Isabel Catholic Church at 3559 Sanibel Captiva Road. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution may be made to helphopelive.org or Help Hope Live, 2 Radnor Corporate Center, 100 Matsonford Road, Radnor, Penn., 19087, in the name of Cheryl Neiman, his granddaughter. Friends may sign the guest book at dignifiedcremations.com.