Beloved New Bedford Merchant Bob ‘Pumpy’ Antil Has Passed Away
My life and much of what I believe in were molded by giants.
The sons and daughters of the "greatest generation" were born during the Great Depression. They came of age during World War II and the prosperity that followed. When called, they served their country with distinction.
Hard work and devotion to family, God, and country were standards. They did right by others and expected nothing more than a fair shake in return.
These lessons were taught to me, my brother, and our many cousins by the children of the greatest generation and remain our foundation today.
As time marches on, our giants dwindle in number. We replace them in line but never in stature.
One of those giants was recently called home.
Robert H. "Bob" Antil, known as "Pumpy" or "Antz" to many, owned Bob & Eileen's Super Variety at the corner of Weld and County Streets for 39 years before his retirement. Upon retiring, my Uncle Bob worked eight more years for the New Bedford School Department as a floating cafeteria worker.
Uncle Bob enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War when he was just 17 years old. Upon returning home, he married my mother's younger sister Eileen. They had six children, 13 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
Bob worked for Manny at Clark Street Market before opening Summer Street Market and then Bob & Eileen's.
Like many men of his time with a business and a family, Bob worked seven days a week. He had a soft spot for those in need and often delivered groceries – on credit – to folks in his station wagon.
Many children in New Bedford went to bed with full stomachs thanks to Bob's generosity.
Bob Antil was devoted to his family, but in later years found time to golf, ski, skydive, and zipline. He loved to build dollhouses, make clam boils and play cards.
As I got older and cut back on my work commitment, I looked forward to our Saturday card games, usually at Uncle Bob's house. It was quality time well spent with a giant who had given so much of his life to improving the lives of others.
Bob Antil was born in 1933. He would have been 90 years old in August.
I will remember his generous soul and that ever-present, infectious smile that lifted the heart of everyone he encountered.
You loved freely and were loved deeply, Uncle Bob, and you will be missed.