Dec 08,1931---May 09,2022

Robert Stephens “Bob” Carlton, who inspired all by his honesty, integrity and unwavering devotion to family, has left this world to rejoin the love of his life.

On Monday, May 9, Bob, age 90, passed peacefully surrounded by the family that he and his recently departed wife Joan had built their lives around. Bob prevailed over 3 different types of cancer the past 60 years and with excellent medical care and his survivor spirit, he enjoyed a life far longer than he ever imagined

Bob was born in Jonesboro, Ark. to Robert and Ruth Carlton. A child of the Great Depression, his childhood was not easy. Due to the poor economy, he was given over to his grandparents, James and Carrie Stephens, to be raised on their cotton farm in Bono, Ark. Lacking running water or indoor plumbing, he grew up in a 19th century lifestyle having to use an outhouse and a kerosene lamp.

Bob, or Bobby as he was called then, learned early the meaning of hard work, rising before dawn to tend to the many chores of a farm before having to walk to school often in the freezing cold.

When he grew old enough, Bob left the farm and attacked his wanderlust by hopping trains and hitchhiking across the country, before enlisting in the Air Force and taking a weekend trip with a friend to Monett, Mo. that would change his life. There, he spotted young Joan Cole walking across a street and asked, “Who is that?”

The two were introduced at a football game and fell madly and hopelessly in love. They eloped and started their new life in Texas, where they had four children – Bobby, Jim, Rick and Janice. Bob worked for 42 years as an industrial engineer for Goodyear Tire & Rubber, earning numerous awards including top salesman of the year.

He would also work in a second career at K.R. Johnson, running laps around competitors half his age! Possessed of an unusually bright mind, Bob was also an inventor on the side and came up with a portable door lock called the Wedgelok that he and Rick marketed nationwide.

But work always took a backseat to his No. 1 priority: family. In addition to being the world’s best husband, Bob was the world’s best dad. He became scoutmaster to Troop 491 in Lubbock, Texas and took his sons and their friends on adventures that probably wouldn’t be allowed nowadays. There was the 50-mile hike in Colorado where he led the boys off trail using only a compass. There was also the “rattlesnake roundup” camp, a winter bivouac at minus 20 degrees in New Mexico, and, later as a scoutmaster in Kansas City, 50-mile canoe trips in Minnesota.

Not to let the two females of the family feel left out, Bob organized a family backpacking trip to the mountains of New Mexico, along with a rather stubborn mule named Sorrowful. On these mountain trips, Bob – never known for his skill at carrying a tune – would occasionally break out in a deep baritone: “When it’s hog calling time in Nebraska!”

Bob was always a fierce defender and protector of family. His most famous exploit was when he saved his son, Jim, and his friend, Randy, from a bear attack near Santa Fe, N.M. in 1967. Having no gun, he used a whistle and flashlight to scare the bear away. Only a year later, Bob would carry Randy over his shoulder for 50 miles after the boy twisted his ankle on a 100-mile hike in those same mountains.

There was very little of life that Bob left on the field. He and Joan crisscrossed the globe on trips to places including China, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Morocco and Mexico. They presided over annual family reunions at their spiritual home of Crested Butte, Colo., where the sound of talk and laughter would fill the cold night air. He spent endless hours on road trips with children and grandchildren, and twice visited Alaska – where he once rode down the Yukon River on a high speed airboat.

Most of all, Bob enjoyed the company of his dear wife, whose marriage lasted 71 years through 14 U.S. presidents. So devoted was Bob to his “Joanie” that in the last year of his life, when he could only get around in a walker, he would shuffle down from his room in assisted care to her room a floor down below in memory care to check up on her. That loyalty to his true love enthralled residents and staff at Healthcare Resort of Leawood, prompting one to call him “a true Southern gentleman.” 

Bob is survived by his children Bobby (Brenda), Jim (Adriana), Rick (Sherry), Janice (Mark), sisters-in-law Julie Devins and Norma Cole, 13 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren and many nephews and nieces.  In addition to his parents, Bob is preceded in death by his wife, Joan.

Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 17, followed by a 10:15 a.m. Mass and reception to follow at Curé of Ars Church, 9401 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS. Interment will be 12:15 p.m. at Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa, KS.



Condolences

Taryn Armstrong May 10 ,2022

Friend ,Kimberling City ,Missouri

Bob Carlton was one-of a-kind. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to meet "Daddy" with son, Jim, for lunch, and then visit a car museum. He smiled all day and was a joy to be around. We had a great time, and Bob was a serious road tripper. Round trip to Branson and back home, so as to not leave his beloved Joan alone for too long. I love all of the Carltons, and I'm glad that Bob has made it back to his beloved wife, and she didn't have to wait too long for him, although it can't be easy on anyone still here. Peace be with you all. Taryn

Gail Bronson May 11 ,2022

Friend and former colleague of Jim Carlton 😢 ,Rockville ,Maryland

Jim, Your father was clearly an amazing Dad and person. The passages here describe a life well lived with a wonderful family. I know he will always be with you in your heart. May his memory always be a blessing, Gail

Caitlin Colteryahn May 17 ,2022

OT friend ,Overland park ,Kansas

Bob and Joan are the type of love we all yearn to have the rest of our lives. Peace to the family.

Caitlin Colteryahn May 17 ,2022

OT friend ,Overland park ,Kansas

Bob and Joan are the type of love we all yearn to have the rest of our lives. Peace to the family.

Event:
Visitation
Location:
Cure of Ars Catholic Church
Address:
9405 Mission Road
City:
Leawood
State:
Kansas
Zip Code:
66206
Date:
May 17 ,2022
Time:
9:30 AM
Google Map:
Event:
Funeral Mass
Location:
Cure of Ars Catholic Church
Address:
9405 Mission Road
City:
Leawood
State:
Kansas
Zip Code:
66206
Date:
May 17 ,2022
Time:
10:15 AM
Google Map: