Captain Robert Victor Gamba, 80, died peacefully on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, with his family by his side.
Bob was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL, on January 22, 1939.
The best days of his early years were spent on Kate’s Mountain in White Sulphur Springs, WV.
He graduated from Greenbrier Military School in 1956, and enrolled in the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1960. He earned an MS degree in international affairs from George Washington University.
Highlights of Bob’s naval career include: tours on the USS Becuna, USS Ethan Allen, USS Salmon, and USS Wahoo; attendance at the Naval War College from 1969 to 1970; Aide to the Chief of Staff at Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT); Executive Officer for the USS Richmond K Turner; Commanding Officer of the USS Miller; attendance at the National War College from 1980 to 1981; Staff Position at the Pentagon; and Commanding Officer for Fleet Combat Training Center Pacific. He ended his career as Commanding Officer of the Naval Station in Annapolis, MD. Bob retired as a Captain, USN in June 1990, having served 30 years.
After the military, Bob entered the civilian work force and worked as Senior Vice President for Bullock Construction Inc., and as a procurement officer for the state of Maryland.
He met the love of his life, Joanne Speer Ehlers, the widow of the late Ernie Ehlers (USNA ’59), during his tour at SACLANT. Joanne had four young children, whom he adopted and raised as his own. This was no small feat for a young bachelor. Their family grew to seven with the addition of their youngest daughter. No words can express how grateful we feel for Bob entering our lives as a husband and father.
His hobbies included fishing, hunting, watching sports, traveling, wine-tasting, storytelling, and spending time with his family.
Whether a new acquaintance or a lifetime friend, Bob always made you feel exceptional.
Through his career, Bob and Joanne established an extensive military family, with whom they shared many laughs, travels, and memories. This family loved and supported them throughout their years.
He was predeceased by his parents, Annibale and Clara Gamba; and sister, Therann.
He leaves behind his wife of 46 years, Joanne; daughters, Mary Jo Laurin (Jack), Judianne Reynolds (Ronald), Charlene Della Ratta (Raphael), and Gina Phair (Joshua); son, John; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
The Gamba family will receive visitors at the Hardesty Funeral Home, 12 Ridgley Ave., Annapolis, MD 21401, on Monday, October 14, 2019, from 6-8 p.m. A celebration of life mass will be held at the United States Naval Academy Chapel, followed immediately by interment at the USNA Columbarium on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donating to the Organization for Autism Research or the American Cancer Society.
Wallace & Wallace Funeral Home in White Sulphur Springs submitted the information.
Obituary originally published in the October 4, 2019, edition of The West Virginia Daily News.