Robert Horn Popper, Jr.

Bob Popper

Robert Horn Popper, Jr.


Bob Hammond remembers: Bob Popper passed away at home, surrounded by his family, on Saturday morning Jan 9, 2021. He had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer two years ago. Throughout the rigors of multiple rounds of immunotherapy and chemotherapy, I never heard him complain or despair.

We became friends freshman year in the Bingham tower. Bob had a single on the fifth floor. I lived on the fourth floor with Carl Farrington and John Hinderlie. Bob spent the following year in Paris selling advertisements for the International Herald Tribune while taking art courses at the Sorbonne. Bob met some Swedish girls and found their language so appealing that when he returned to Yale in 1963, he decided to take two years of Swedish. Bob rejoined us in Trumbull, where he was assigned to room with Jim Gaver, who had just returned from serving in Vietnam. Bob formed lifelong friendships with fellow Trumbullians: Chip Marshall, Gary Moore, Russ Wheeler, Hugh Marshall, Dave Ralph, Bob Kinderman, Oscar Mayer and Mark Lothrop. (If I’ve omitted anyone, please forgive me.) In 1963, my parents moved to Staten Island, which put us in proximity of Bob’s family in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The two of us got together for some summer adventures. Bob gave me several lifts home from New Haven and helped me move out senior year. Bob graduated in ’66 but always affiliated with ‘65.

In 1967, while stationed at Chanute AFB, Bob was fixed up on a blind date with Linda, who was a junior at University of Illinois at Champagne Urbana. When Linda told Bob of her Swedish roots, Bob responded in his best Yale Swedish, blew her off her feet, and the rest is history. Bob and Linda were married in Moline, Illinois in 1969. Bob Kinderman was at their wedding. Linda and Bob were together in Guam for a year where Linda worked as a microbiologist, until Bob got orders to Vietnam and Linda returned to Illinois. After Bob’s discharge, they settled in Elizabeth, NJ.

Bob and I and our families always stayed in close touch by phone and, more recently, by email, with periodic memorable visits over the years. Linda and Bob came to visit us in Hornell around 1985. Bob delighted our young children by pulling a rubber chicken out of his jacket pocket. Even today he is known in our family as “the chicken man.”

Bob loved Yale and Trumbull was very important to him. Bob and Linda were regulars at our class reunions and annual class dinners. It was at Bob’s encouragement that I started to attend the class dinner. For our fiftieth reunion, Bob came up with the idea of creating a display and souvenir book to present the artistic efforts of our class community. This concept eventually emerged as the virtual collection “Our Creative Works,” which is preserved and still accessible on our class website, It contains some great paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, poetry, musical compositions, performance videos, and literary works. The password is boola65. Bob did all the heavy lifting on this project, drafting the invitations, curating the submissions, and creating the display with the guidance and technical support of our webmaster, Jean McKillop.

Our last face-to-face was in November. The four of us had precautionary Covid testing before getting together at Bob and Linda’s home in Mountain Lakes, NJ. We had planned a short afternoon visit, but wound up enjoying each others’ company so much we stayed late into the evening After dinner, Bob played some boogie woogie piano while I accompanied him on the bass before hitting the road . It was a wonderful time. I can still hear his piano.

Bob’s kindness, optimism, and gentle smile will always be remembered


The family of Robert H. Popper, Jr, of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey is heartbroken to announce his peaceful passing at home surrounded by his wife and children after a long illness.

Raised in Hillside, New Jersey, Bob attended the Pingry School from the first grade through high school graduation. Pingry laid the foundation for Bob’s lifelong curiosity, self-discipline, and moral compass. He spent his childhood summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Waganaki in Maine which led to his love for the state’s idyllic lakes and woods.

Bob continued to Yale University where he honed his writing by earning his B.A. in English Literature. Bob also lived in France for a year before his graduation where he took art lessons at the Sorbonne and worked for the International Herald Tribune.

As a college graduate amidst the Vietnam War, Bob declined any deferments to volunteer for service instead. During his four years in the Air Force, he was stationed in Vietnam and on Guam as an aircraft maintenance officer before his honorable discharge at the rank of Captain.

While training in Illinois, Bob met his wife Linda Ohrn on a blind date. They married in Moline, Illinois in 1969, then settled in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey. In New Jersey he took over management of J.S. Popper, Inc., a family manufacturing business started by his grandfather. A lifelong autodidact, Bob taught himself engineering after developing an appreciation for mechanical work while supervising aircraft repair during the war. His ingenuity in product design earned him multiple patents as well as a “Top 20 Tool” prize from Motor Magazine for one of his inventions. His drive and discipline also led him to modernize his business by teaching himself computer programming, 3D modeling, and website design when each of these technologies was in its infancy.

Always engaged in creative pursuits, Bob moonlighted as an ad copywriter while in the military then wrote as a hobby for decades. He co-founded his high school alumni newsletter, “The Boys of ’61 Bulletin”, which he co-edited for the last 30 years of his life with invaluable contributions from his classmates. Bob also wrote “Captain Bob’s Suburban Report” for his Mountain Lakes friends and (bravely) shared his own fables with Linda on their second date.

Bob’s other interests included drumming for his high school band, The Five Counts, until he was in his 60s and playing piano daily. He also applied his knack for engineering to his backyard by designing and building a two-story treehouse for his children. He took up magic as a boy after visiting Houdini’s workshop and kept up “the act” for his kids’ birthday parties and to his grandsons’ general delight. Bob affectionately illustrated original Christmas cards, birth announcements, and custom drawings for friends and family. An avid photographer, his family decorated their home with their favorites among his collection. Finally, his chess board was a constant fixture in his home.

All of Bob’s achievements and pastimes were underpinned by his love for being a father, husband, and later a grandfather. His kindness, decency, and humor also spread in uncountable ways to the extended family and friends he valued and cherished. Many employees spent decades working for him. His retirement, split between Maine and New Jersey, was a steady stream of guests, lunches, reunions he often organized, and phone calls.

Bob was predeceased by his parents and sister: Robert H. Popper, Sr, Phyllis Reiman Popper, and Leslie Popper Hare. He is survived by a brother, his wife of 51 years, Linda Popper; their three children Susan Popper, Jennifer Popper Scramuzzo, and Robert R. Popper, and two grandchildren, Luke and Jack.

A memorial service will be planned for this fall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either the Western Foothills Land Trust of Maine or the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.