Commander Robert Marion Laske (ret.), 96, passed away peacefully at home in Middletown, RI, on May 28, 2022. Robert is survived by his loving wife of 71 years, Shirley, and four children – Kimberly (Robert) Springer, Lisa Laske (David Mendrek), Laura Montanaro, and Kurt Laske. He leaves behind nine grandchildren: Elizabeth Springer, Allison (Aidan) Renaghan and Paul Springer; Mark (Maureen), Alexandra and Michael Mendrek-Laske; and Nicole, Jessica and Dale Montanaro. He was blessed with five great-grandchildren: Michael, Robert, Finnigan and Evelyn Mendrek-Laske, and Cormac Renaghan. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather to his family.
Robert is also survived by his sister, Mariann Picard. He is pre-deceased by his parents, brothers James and Ronald, and sister, Marjorie Salzwedel.
Robert was born in Wrightstown, Wisconsin, on January 5, 1926 to Theodore Laske and Loene Veitch Laske. He lived in Wisconsin through his 1944 high school graduation from the Plymouth, High School. He spent his summers working his grandparents’ farm in Seymour, Wisconsin and with suppliers to Kraft cheese. Like many young men during WWII, he joined the service. He served in the Army Air Corps until the end of the war.
Following WWII, he returned to Wisconsin where he attended Ripon College. He graduated in June,1949, with a degree in chemistry.
In September, 1949 Robert again joined the service. This time, he chose the Naval Air Corps, attending flight school in Pensacola, Florida, eventually obtaining Naval aviation gold wings in April, 1951. That same month he married the love of his life, Shirley Harrison of Waldo, Wisconsin. Together, they set out married life as a military couple.
The Navy quickly gave them a variety of experiences. They spent time in Coronado, California and Whidbey Island, Washington. He was deployed to Kodiak in the Alaska Territory in 1951, as part of a squadron that patrolled the Soviet Union. In 1952, he attended the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing classes at the Naval Justice School, he was sent to join a squadron that was deployed to Japan during the Korean War.
After his Pacific deployment, he was assigned first as a naval recruiter in Oklahoma and Texas and then to post-graduate school in Monterey, California.
Bob and Shirley moved with two daughters, Kimberly and Lisa, to Port Lyautey Morocco, where Bob flew with a squadron patrolling the Mediterranean Sea. He survived a plane crash in Morocco. After three years in North Africa, the family, now grown with the births of Laura and Kurt, returned to the US. Bob again spent time in Newport, attending the Navy’s Communications School. His next assignment was on the USS Forrestal, based in Norfolk, Virginia, as communications officer.
In 1962, Bob was assigned to Naval War College, first as a student, then as a staff member in the continuing education of naval officers. While performing those War College duties, he obtained a Master’s Degree in International Relations from George Washington University.
In 1964 Bob was called off the staff of the Naval War College for duty in Saigon, Vietnam SOG where he was a Communication Officer. While in Saigon, he survived a bombing of his hotel. He returned to the Naval War College in 1965 where he became the Editor in Chief of the Naval War College Review. Under his leadership, the Review changed its policy to include civilian authors for articles about leadership, history, management and other subjects. Bob forged a partnership with academic institutions and scholars to explore matters of interest to Navy Officers and others. He continued in that position until his retirement from the Navy in September 1975. After several years of retirement, he rejoined the Naval War College Review in 1982, serving as a civilian employee, made Managing Editor from 1983 to 1985 and promoted to Editor until mid-1988 when he retired.
Bob and Shirley decided to raise their children in Middletown, Rhode Island, after living in many places with the Navy. They purchased a home, enrolled their children in local schools and took their children camping, sailing and skiing throughout New England. He learned building construction skills as a homeowner, skills that he used with his children and grandchildren at their homes in remodeling and construction.
Robert loved a conversation with family and his many friends. Some of his great responses to ideas from others were: “That’s an interesting idea.” “That’s a great question.” “Did you see the (New York Times or Wall Street Journal) article about —-.” “Here’s a book about — you might like.” Bob had a great sense of humor and made everyone comfortable.
In retirement, Robert and Shirley maintained an active lifestyle. They traveled together throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and South America. They were avid golfers. He has a record of shooting a hole in one at Quit Qui Oc Golf Club in Elkhart Lake, WI. Robert served on the Board of the Wanumetonomy Golf and Country Club in Middletown, RI, for several years and President two years. Family members shared many wonderful vacations and holidays together in Rhode Island, Florida and other states.
A memorial service for Commander Robert M Laske (ret.) will be scheduled for a future date. Donations in Robert’s name can be made online to St Jude’s Children’s Hospital at https://www.stjude.org/donate/donate-to-st-jude.html or St Lucy’s Parish, 909 West Main Rd, Middletown, RI 02842.
Friends and family can share memories or stories with the family by posting messages at O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home https://www.oneillhayes.com/