Robert Arnold Obituary (1937-2021) – Bloomington, IL

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Robert Arnold, 84, died on Friday October 1st with his family. Like the final note of his favorite jazz song Poinciana by Ahmad Jamal, Bob’s gentle, calm ending ended his robust and complex life.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, the son of Leo, a Kresge store manager, and Violet Arnold, Bob moved nearly 20 times before graduating from Marshalltown High School, Iowa. At the age of 15 he developed polio, which would shape his life from then on. He then graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in accounting. During his studies he pursued his love for sports and physical fitness, played wheelchair soccer and wrote in wheelchair basketball. As a young man in Chicago, he worked for major insurance companies and eventually embarked on a career in education finance.
One day while working at Main East High School, he noticed a student teacher and asked an equally enthusiastic Patricia Pollock. Their first date at a popular and exotic Greek restaurant in Chicago set the tone for their 50-year marriage, filled with adventure, travel and enjoying a good meal with loved ones.
Bob and Pat began life together in the Chicago area, and while he was doing his Masters and EdD at Northern Illinois University, they had three children, Sarah, Anne, and David. After positions as controller in the U46 school district and manager of the Lake Zurich school district, Bob and Pat moved with their family to Normal, Illinois in 1985 to enjoy the educational opportunities and quality of life of a college town. Bob taught graduate students as an associate professor of school operations finance in the Department of Education Administration and Foundations, and it was no surprise to anyone who knew their close relationship, Pat was working across the street as a Spanish teacher at Metcalf Elementary School. Bob was grateful to the twin town community for the life they provided for his family, and he showed his appreciation by serving on the McLean County Board and the boards of ISU Credit Union and LIFE CIL.
All his life Bob loved studying and traveling. He took Pat or the whole family around the country to visit iconic places and experiences like Times Square on New Years Eve, Key West, New Orleans and Yellowstone National Park. He pursued an exhaustive list of interests from sailing and skiing to fishing and clay pigeon shooting to painting and drawing. He had a particular passion for all areas of art, from live music to theater productions, and he conveyed this love to his children by going to painting exhibitions with Anne and writing workshops with Sarah. Bob was also passionate about the art of baseball, a pastime he shared with David at countless t-ball, Peoria Chiefs, and St. Louis Cardinals games.
Dad always taught us things – how to change a tire, use tools to fix or build something, throw a baseball, fry an egg, tell a joke, and “The best chili in the world – until proven otherwise is “to do. When his granddaughters Norah, Harper, and Mia came along, he moved on to teaching and loving them. His big, strong hands would help them hold a brush, offer them a bite of cake icing, or just rock them in a hug.
Bob leaves behind these granddaughters, beloved wife Pat, children Sarah (Jason), Anne (Juan and Stiefkel Aidan), David (Sofia) and sister Nancy Irvan. Instead of flowers, please consider sitting around a nice meal and having long, thoughtful conversations with the people you love.
For all of us, Bob led by example by teaching us every day how to persevere, be strong, how to take care of loved ones, how to keep learning and research, and how to love all that life has to offer. It is impossible to sum up a life as rich as his in a few lines of text. As with the rhythms of Poinciana, there were low and high notes, but the music was so sweet.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert L. Arnold, please visit our flower shop.

Published by Legacy on October 5, 2021.

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