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Area man celebrating 93 years

  • Robert "Bob" LeMasters
    Robert "Bob" LeMasters
Published December 23. 2013 05:00PM

Robert "Bob" LeMasters recently celebrated his 93rd birthday.

He was born Dec. 21, 1920 in St. Louis, Mo. to Harvey and Mable LeMasters. He had one sister, Florence, who was 10 years his senior.

Bob attended St. Louis public schools. He was excused one day to participate in volunteer public service, and was docked a day absent, which prevented him from earning a perfect attendance award for his 12 years, something that bothers him to this day.

With the threat of U.S. involvement in World War II looming, Bob joined the Navy, leading to experiences that greatly shaped his life and stories. He attained the rank of First Gunner's Mate on the heavy cruiser the USS Portland, affectionately known as "Sweet Pea." For a time ship and crew were stationed at Pearl Harbor. They were just two days out of port and when the bombing began. He and his shipmates saw action at the battles of Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Eastern Solomons, Santa Cruz Islands, Marshall Islands and more.

A memorable highlight of his service was time spent in Australia while his torpedoed damaged ship underwent repairs.

Bob's naval service ended with a pulmonary infection leading to a stint in the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. It was while in Philadelphia that he met and eventually married the love of his life Elizabeth "Betty" Sourber. Married on Groundhog's Day in 1946, they moved back to her hometown of Tamaqua, where Bob joined his father-in-law in the family business of Sourber's Jewelry Store. He assumed ownership of the business around 1970. Bob is proud of his service and many friends made as a member of the Tamaqua Lion's Club.

Betty and Bob raised and educated three sons, two of whom pursued professional degrees. To assist in making tuition they did double time operating the gift shop at Heisler's dairy bar in addition to the long hours in the jewelry store.

Betty passed in 2008 breaking a union of 62 years.

Bob is grandfather to Tommy, Meredith, Kelly and Billy. He is a great-grandfather to Jane, Stella and Adelynn.

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