red, white, and blue star with initials B V A

Robert A. “Bob” Bottenberg, BVA’s ninth National President and a dedicated member of the Association both nationally and locally for more than 60 years, passed away March 11 in San Antonio, Texas, at the age of 98. 

Bob was blinded by German mortar fire in April 1945 when he was 20 years old and only 2-3 weeks after BVA’s founding. His injuries occurred as he was serving as squad leader with the 25th Infantry Regiment, 63rd Division. He was treated at Dibble Army General Hospital in Palo Alto, at Valley Forge Army Hospital, and at Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital.

Bob earned Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. degrees in psychology, all after losing his sight. In 1947, he organized and served as the Chairman (the title at the time) of the Missouri Regional Group. While earning his Ph.D. at Stanford University, he was active in a regional group in the San Francisco Bay Area and later helped organize the South Texas Regional Group. He held a Board of Directors position from 1953-56 prior to his election as National Vice President.

Fast forward 45 years and many regional group positions later, Bob delivered the Father Carroll Luncheon address at the BVA 57th National Convention in San Antonio, having been well acquainted with the National Chaplain during the latter’s 25 years of service.

At the time he was elected National President at age 34 on July 19, 1958, Bob was employed as a psychologist with the Human Resources Research Center at Lackland Air Force Base. He worked for the Air Force for 37 years.

On August 27 of that same year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law an Act of the 85th Congress formally incorporating the Blinded Veterans Association and granting the organization the congressional charter it retains today. Bob had participated in what The Bulletin at the time described as a massive effort to secure the charter while he was serving as National Vice President. At one of the last national conventions Bob attended, he described the granting of the charter as one of the most memorable, meaningful, and satisfying memories of his life.

“He was an amazing man, overcoming each obstacle in his path, learning to ski at the age of 50, a strong swimmer, a carpenter and handyman, and a beloved father of three girls and husband to Dorothy Gene Laffoon Bottenberg for nearly 70 years before her passing in 2016,” his daughter Ann Bottenberg Schindler recounted this past week.

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