Cover photo for Robert "Bob" Henry Gavigan, Jr.'s Obituary
Robert "Bob" Henry Gavigan, Jr. Profile Photo

Robert "Bob" Henry Gavigan, Jr.

December 8, 1922 — April 4, 2023

MOULTRIE, GA. - Robert Henry (Bob) Gavigan Jr, 100, died Tuesday, April 4 at his home in Moultrie.

Inurnment will be held at 11:00 AM Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Westview Cemetery.  

Born December 8, 1922, Bob was the oldest of three children of R. H. Gavigan, Sr., and Jeane Ettelson Gavigan of Miami, Florida. Both lifespan and locale afforded him a ringside view of many historical events – some of the earliest and most tumultuous of which were not only viewed but experienced from inside the ring.  One vivid set of childhood memories came from the Great Hurricane of 1926, when during the eye of the storm his father carried him and his sister through waist deep water - relocating them from their damaged home to a neighbor’s undamaged home.  Afterwards they discovered most of their own home had collapsed and washed away during the second half of the hurricane.  Still, 1920s Miami was a roaring boomtown - until it wasn’t.  His parents lost their business and most of their savings after the financial crisis and subsequent bank failures that led to the Great Depression.  To help the family survive, ten year-old “Bobby” delivered newspapers for the Miami Herald before school and operated a pharmacy soda fountain after school.  Bob turned 19 the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and by age 23, he was a veteran of WWII, having served in the US Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater.  Bob had many fascinating wartime experiences!  But his most dangerous combat of the war happened during the invasion of Okinawa.  Landing the first morning after the invasion began, his unit set up and performed air traffic control operations while under attack by Japanese air and ground resistance forces. Combat and mine clearing duties lasted several months after the invasion.  He served out the remainder of the war in Okinawa, preparing for the invasion of Japan.  Then one night he was the first of his wartime buddies to notice an eerie glow over the northern horizon that turned out to be the radioactive afterglow of the first of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. 

Returning from the service and using financial assistance from the G.I. Bill, Bob enrolled in “TBUF,” the Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida, graduating in 1950, an alumnus of one of the earliest classes (if not first class) to have that college’s designation as Florida State University printed on their diplomas. There, he was a member of the varsity tennis and swim teams, the flying-high circus, as well as the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity.  He kept in contact with a number of coaches and classmates all their lives. 

The good Lord Jesus using an early postgraduate job with the Florida Department of Health led him to Bradenton, Florida where he met the true love and soulmate of his life Mary Louise Davis, during one of her early stint jobs as visiting teacher for Manatee County Board of Education. In those days, Bradenton was just large enough that both of their offices were located in the same building - the county courthouse.  After their marriage in 1953, the couple settled in her hometown of Moultrie, where they began their 30-plus year teaching careers at Moultrie High School, commuting during summer breaks to FSU to earn their master’s degrees in education. Bob’s earliest positions at Moultrie High included mathematics teacher, business skills teacher, and distributive education coordinator. In years to follow, he held subsequent positions as principal at Omega Elementary and Junior High School, district sales representative for Science Research Associates, and principal at Barwick Elementary and Middle School.  He had many wonderful students, a few of whom had kept in regular contact with him. 

Socially, Mr. Gavigan was a longtime active member of the Moultrie Lions Club and Sunset Country Club. The First United Methodist Church of Moultrie was his active church home for over 50 years. During his prime and well into retirement, he enjoyed swimming, tennis, golf, and fishing, as well as travel with family and friends, especially to his and Mary’s beach house at St George Island. 

Mr. Gavigan was preceded in death by his wife of 69 years, son R. H. Gavigan III, and sister Leona Jeane Gavigan. He is survived by his son Stephen D. Gavigan of Moultrie, and his sister Elaine K. Gavigan of Fort Lauderdale.

Suggested beneficiaries of any memorial contributions would be First Methodist Church of Moultrie, the United Way of Colquitt County, or other favorite charities of the donor’s choice.


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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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