Robert A. Gentry (Bob), age 74, left this earth for Heaven at the Village House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, in Newport, RI on June 18, 2021. He had a severe stroke in November 2007 which forced him to retire at that time and be at home and, after a time, he became totally bedridden. He would have loved to stay working and never retire. He never considered working to be work and loved to go to work every day. Bob’s wife, Linda, was his loving caregiver for many years. Thank you to the staff of The Village House and to the CNAs at All About Home Care, for taking good care of Bob.
Born in Quincy, MA on December 10, 1946, he was the son of the late Robert Arthur Gentry and Astra Ainamo (Berglund) Gentry. He grew up in Quincy and Braintree, MA and was a 1964 graduate of Braintree High School where he played ice hockey, baseball, and played drums in the school band. In addition to Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he also lived in Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Bob was a graduate of Paul Smith’s College, Paul Smiths, NY and a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA in 1971. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and the Honor Fraternity of Alpha Zeta. His college major at both schools was Hotel, Restaurant, and Resort Management. During college he was a drummer in the band “The Infernos” and made a record, “Restless Tides”, on Rondack Records. Growing up, Bob worked many summers at Quincy’s YMCA Camp Burgess with his parents and this is where he began his love of cooking.
Bob was a military history and aviation enthusiast. Members of the military and especially pilots were his heroes. He loved watching television military documentaries and DVDs on airplanes and documentaries on all the wars. He collected several guns and rifles. Bob enjoyed reading books by Stephen Hawking, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, books about Jesus and religions, and the Holy Bible, which he read cover to cover six times. He was an avid sports fan, rooting for all the Boston teams. He was very interested in the stock market and finance, and before his stroke, he enjoyed cooking. He worked in the hotel & restaurant business his entire life. He especially enjoyed the restaurant side of his business and at one time in his youth, wanted to be a chef. His business was his passion and he was very active in both professional/national and his local community. Bob loved people and never met a stranger, he loved to strike up a conversation with people he did not know. His line would be, “so, what brings you to Newport?” He was outgoing and very interested in people.
BOB was past chairman of the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Association (RIHTA); past member of the Board of Directors and a Committee Chair for the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA); past chairman of the Newport County (RI) Chamber of Commerce; and past president of the Rhode Island Hospitality Self Insurance Group, Inc.; a Governor of the Newport (RI) Healthcare Corporation; and an Alumni Advisory Member of the University of Massachusetts Hotel and Tourism Department.
He co-authored, “Condominium and Vacation Ownership Management”, a college textbook in 1999. This book was translated into Chinese at the request of the Chinese government in 2005. Bob was named the AHLA Most Valuable Volunteer for the State of Rhode Island in 1999, the medal was awarded to him in person, in Nashville, TN by former President George H.W. Bush, and he was also named the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) Top Administrative Manager in 1994 (from over 800 companies). While living in Kentucky, in 1981, Bob was honored to be Commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Governor John Y. Brown, Jr.
Bob proudly served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force and was a member of the US Air Force Special Operations Force (Air Commandos), 1966-1970. He was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base and at Hurlburt Field both in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. He worked in Accounting & Finance and then he served as an Aide to famous pilot, Brig. General Robert L. Cardenas, Commander of the U.S.A.F. Special Operations Force, and remained in contact with, and friends of, General Cardenas for his whole life. He would lovingly refer to him as “My General”. Bob was asked to send in a video of himself wishing General Cardenas a Happy 100th Birthday that the General’s children were including in a larger video for their father’s birthday party.
Bob was a former member of Christ Episcopal Church, Quincy, MA where he was past president of the Young Peoples’ Fellowship and an Altar Acolyte. This is where he met his wife, the former Linda Gay Newton, as a teenager. They were married there on December 16, 1967. He was currently a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, RI.
His last working position was as the State Project Manager at Systems Resource Management, Inc. (SRM), Middletown, RI. Before that he was an Area Manager for Wyndham Worldwide Vacation Ownership, a Regional Vice President for Resort Condominiums International (RCI). He also worked for Cendant Corporation as New England district manager, for Fairfield Resorts (Formerly Equivest, Eastern Resorts and Inn Group Associates.) At one time, he oversaw more than 7 resorts and 2 restaurants in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. And also, was, for a time, manager of 3 resorts in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and would visit St. Thomas monthly. Bob was very proud of the Bay Voyage Inn Restaurant in Jamestown, RI and all of the awards it won (Best Sunday Brunch in RI, for MANY years) after he started to oversee the management there. In other companies he was Hotel Manager and Area Vice President of many hotels such as The Westford Regency Inn, Westford, MA, and also the Harbor View Hotel and the Kelley House both located on Martha’s Vineyard Island in MA. He used to fly down to Martha’s Vineyard every weekend on the company airplane. Earlier in his career, he was hotel manager of many Admiral Benbow Inns, Holiday Inns and Morrison’s Restaurants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Bob’s first job out of college was at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He started there months before the park opened and helped open up both the Polynesian Resort and the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World in October 1971. He worked at the Polynesian Resort for a few years. Son Brian was born in Orlando. Florida.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Linda Gay (Newton) Gentry. He is also survived by one son, of whom he was very proud, Brian James Gentry, of Waltham, MA, and some cousins. His son, Brian, followed his dad into the hotel and restaurant business. Bob loved his 3 cats, Bella, Callie, and Penguin.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The US Air Force Air Commando Association, Post Office Box 7, Mary Esther, FL 32569 or to the University of Massachusetts, Isenberg School of Management, 121 Presidents Drive, Amherst, MA 01003, or to a charity of your choice.
Funeral arrangements are being made by Memorial Funeral Home, Newport, RI. Visiting hours will be at Memorial Funeral Home from 4:00-7:00pm on Friday, June 25, 2021. A private, graveside, funeral will be held at a later date at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, Portsmouth, RI. Burial will be in the cemetery at the church.
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