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Robert LaRue Bender

April 7, 1937 -
May 25, 2022

Robert LaRue Bender passed away from this earthly life early Wednesday May 25, 2022.

The son of LaRue and Helen Bender, Bob was born in Muncy Valley, PA on April 7, 1937. The son of a Methodist preacher, he moved frequently in central Pennsylvania during his school years and graduated from Altoona High School in 195…read more

Robert LaRue Bender passed away from this earthly life early Wednesday May 25, 2022.

The son of LaRue and Helen Bender, Bob was born in Muncy Valley, PA on April 7, 1937. The son of a Methodist preacher, he moved frequently in central Pennsylvania during his school years and graduated from Altoona High School in 1955. He was active in sports, including track and soccer. He received his Batchelor’s degree from Lycoming College in 1959, his Master’s degree from Bucknell University, and his Doctoral degree from the University of Illinois in 1970.

At Lycoming, he fell in love and married Ann Harper (1938-2016) in 1959. They raised three children: Robert Bender Jr (Layna) of Granger, IN, Stephanie Bender-Kitz (Kevin) of Boise, ID, and Karen Bender (Rob Hornbaker) of Champaign. Bob and Ann were also blessed with 8 grandchildren: Jack, Max, and Lily (Bob and Layna), Kelsie and Colin (Stephanie and Kevin); and Weston, Randall and Jenna (Karen and Rob). Together, the extended family had many wonderful vacations together over the years, including most recently this past Christmas. The times together were both fun and meaningful to everyone.

As a high school and college student, Bob was hired to sing at weddings and events. After Lycoming, Bob worked in several school districts as a school psychologist, and then as an administrator at Bloomsburg State College. In 1968, the family moved to Urbana for Bob to complete his doctorate degree. Bob took a job with the University of Illinois, and except for a year in Dixon, IL, spent the rest of his life in Champaign-Urbana. He retired from the University in 1993 as the Associate VP for Academic Affairs. The University was an important part of the families’ lives, as everyone received at least one degree from Illinois. Bob often met his three children, along with many of their friends, on Friday afternoons after work for a cold beverage. His treat, of course.

The U of I was also part of the social fabric for Bob and Ann. They had season tickets for decades to men’s and women’s basketball, football, and volleyball. Along with many of their friends, they hosted a regular tailgate before home games. Together, Bob and Ann established several scholarships to Illinois and to Lycoming College for education students and were long-time supporters at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts, The United Way and many others. Bob was involved and very active in the community for decades, including the Urbana Rotary, at Wesley Methodist Church, U of I booster clubs, and numerous other local organizations.

Bob and Ann enjoyed traveling after they both retired, to places as diverse as Vietnam, China, South Africa, Scotland, and Peru. They loved traveling to their grandchildren’s activities, and often traveled hours just to watch a game or a performance. Bob loved to play golf and enjoyed the game with a regular group of friends for decades.

For those that knew Bob, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and for many, a friend for life. He was generous, a gentleman, always with a warm handshake or hug, and a quick wit. He believed in education, and was a life-long learner, even learning new functions on his phone just days before his unexpected passing. His love for his family and friends will long be remembered and he will be deeply missed.

There will be a memorial service at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1203 W. Green St., Urbana, at 1:00 p.m. Monday, May 30, with a reception immediately following. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be considered to the Krannert Center for Performing Arts or United Way of Champaign County.

Condolences may be offered at www.morganmemorialhome.com.

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Service Information

Service Information

Date: Monday, May 30, 2022

Time: 01:00 pm

Wesley United Methodist Church

Address:

1203 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801

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