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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Robert “Bob” E. Booth, Colonel, USAF (Retired)August 29, 1932 – November 15, 2020
Col. Robert E. Booth, on November 15, 2020, made his final flight, slipping the bonds of earth, reaching out and touching the face of God. Bob was born to his mother, Myrtis Booth, in Peekskill, New York, and at age two, went to live the remainder of his formative years with his Aunt and Uncle, Florence and Thurlow Travis. He was a graduate of Peekskill High School, Class of 1949.
In 1951, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Private and stayed in that service until retiring as a Colonel in 1977. He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and his pilot’s wings on May 12, 1954, and three days later married the former Mary Jane Stone, also of Peekskill.
During his 26 years of active duty he amassed nearly 8000 hours of flying time, of which several hundred hours were flown as a combat rescue pilot during the Viet-Nam war. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action, as well as several Distinguished Flying Crosses and many Air Medals.
Upon his retirement from the Air Force in 1977, Bob and his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he established Hiflite Homes, Inc., a custom homebuilding firm. He built many fine homes throughout the greater San Antonio area.
Bob was an avid canine hobbyist and a loyal supporter of the Basset Hound breed for over 50 years. He was honored with a lifetime membership in the Basset Hound Club of America. He was an American Kennel Club approved dog show judge for more than 45 years, judging Hounds and Non-Sporting breeds.
Col. Booth was predeceased by his first wife, Mary Jane, who passed of Alzheimer’s disease in 2003. He is survived by the love of his life, wife Sandra James Booth, son Robert S. (Rob) Booth and wife Teresa, daughter Laurie and husband Mike Krzywosinksi, step-son David Braswell and wife Julie, step-son Dan Braswell and wife Debbie, grandson Brandon Booth and wife Hannah, granddaughter Bridget Mercer and husband Mike, granddaughter Katie Sherrill and husband Greg, grandson Kyle Krzywosinski and wife Courtney Chilton, granddaughter Annie Reid and husband Jacob, grandson Thomas Yates, granddaughter Emilie Bailey and husband Chase, and grandsons John Micah Braswell, Nathaniel Braswell and Carter Braswell. There are six great grandchildren. Bob was proud of his blended family.
His family and many, many friends will miss him.
Services will be held privately, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Thank you for understanding.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bob’s honor to the Basset Hound Club of America.
There are persons more equipped to write of the man I’ve only known as “Bob”, but as we had become closer over the years, I am compelled to write of my friend. Born in Peekskill, NY on August 29, 1932, Robert Eugene Booth left his home town in 1951 when he enlisted in the US Air Force. He did, however, return in 1954 to marry a local girl named Mary Jane Stone. Bob and Mary Jane met their first Basset Hound during a 1956 visit to Mary Jane’s aunt’s home in New York. It belonged to one of her aunt’s married children home for a holiday visit; and that visit was the beginning of their long-lasting involvement in the world of dogs.
As a military family, ‘normal’ life meant a lot of moving. After a short tour in Hawaii, they were finally able to acquire a pet Basset Hound that actually looked like what was expected of the breed. They named it Baron von Gustav. Some months later, they and their veterinarian friends went to see the Indianapolis KC dog show. At that point, Bob and Mary Jane determined that Gus did not measure up to what they saw in the ring so, they decided to go to visit a breeder in Canada. Two weekends later they were on their way to just ‘have a look’. Along the way, they happened to notice a sign on the side of the highway for Kazoo® Kennels. They recognized the name from the recent dog show in Indiana. They took the next exit and found Mary Jo Shields and her Kazoo® Kennels. They didn’t travel any further. That was the beginning of Hiflite® Kennels and Bob and Mary Jane joined the BHCA in 1964.
The Vietnam War kept Hiflite® Kennels operating at a very reduced mode during the two-years Bob (a Silver Star recipient) served as a helicopter pilot flying rescue missions out of Danang, Vietnam. Their breeding and showing activities increased a bit after Bob’s return and they enjoyed continued success. Bob was promoted in 1973 to the rank of Colonel, and a subsequent reassignment to Arizona seemed to add another roadblock. The move required that they live on the Air Force base so, that meant rehoming all of the dogs as it was impossible to maintain a personal kennel in an on-base environment. Another overseas assignment followed (without dogs), but not without a continued breed interest.
Bob retired from the US Air Force in 1977 and by then he and Mary Jane had become AKC judges within their shared hobbies of dog breeding and dog showing. Both he and Mary Jane were awarded BHCA Life membership status in 1996. Hiflite® Kennels is credited with having bred around 40 AKC-titled Basset Hounds but were also instrumental in the establishment of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen breed in the USA. Bob went on to become a Group and BIS judge.
Bob and Mary Jane loved to entertain and did so many times. Long-time dog show competitors from afar, Bob and I really did not know much about each other but Bob soon realized that first, like his family, I too was brought up on military bases and second, like him, I too was a Master Mason. The Bob that I knew was a quiet mild-mannered man that I’d never heard raise his voice other than one time while I was in the dog show ring and immediately after a tense breeder-judge’s decision (Cathie Spenser, Jercat Bassets) at a specialty show when he exclaimed, “Oh no!” As it happens, our young hound had just won the major over one of his very nice Hiflite® hounds. We both had a good laugh about it but I never let him forget it.
Bob judged at the BHCA Nationals three times in his career and served two terms as Vice-President of BHCA and as Chairman of the BHCA-AKC Video Committee. Upon the untimely passing of the Club’s President, Bob became BHCA President. In mid-1996, Bob volunteered to take on the responsibility of authoring a book for the BHCA through publisher, TFH Publications, as a part of a series of breed books. It was to be called The Official Book of the Basset Hound. As a member of the next BHCA Board of Directors, I was appointed as liaison on the project and debated several questions with Bob. In fact, during that time, we also discussed Bob’s separate work that he had perceived as a ‘traveling’ Judges’ Education seminar that ultimately became the basis for the BHCA’s current Judges’ Education program.
After seven years away, my company moved us back to Texas and we picked the New Braunfels area in which to settle. At 66 and 14 years my senior, Bob came over and offered to help me convert a building already on the property into a kennel. As an experienced builder, Bob was a perfectionist (designed and constructed homes after his Air Force career) but I needed our numerous hounds housed quickly so my constant refrain was, “Let’s get this done and worry with that later.” And, he’d mumble back, “You’re not really going to do it, are you?” I would just laugh. That was in early January 1998 and our dog show acquaintance had quickly turned into a solid friendship. A few years later, Alzheimer’s took full control of Mary Jane so, Bob had to seek the help of a care facility. The mother of their two children and wife of nearly 50-years, Mary Jane passed in the summer of 2003.
Through friends, Bob had met Sandra James Braswell. They ‘clicked’ and soon became husband and wife. As the new bride, Sandra, an accomplished lady in her own right, was sort of expected to join the Basset Hound scene. It was apparent that Sandra had not been a ‘doggy’ person but with her love and support for Bob, she jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Sandra soon became a favorite ‘go to’ person within the BHC of Gtr. San Antonio. A fun-loving couple, their first Halloween party featured themselves in Adam & Eve flesh-colored bodysuits with appropriately positioned fig leaves. Bob loved and supported his new extended family: David Braswell and wife Julie; grandsons John Micah and Nathaniel; Dan Braswell and wife Debbie and grandson Carter in their pursuits. Through Bob’s several hospital temps of fate, Sandra was always by his side making sure things were done right. Bob judged at his final BHCA National Specialty in 2014. Soon afterwards, at 82 years of age and not as spry as he wished, Bob retired from the world of dog shows but he kept up through the Tally-Ho magazine and friends.
I’m sure that Bob would not mind me saying that he had a dry sense of humor and he loved to tease people with it. A favorite line of Bob’s when someone would belly-ache about another was to cunningly say, “Funny, he (she) speaks well of you.” After being caught in his trap, you learn fast as it would nearly leave you speechless. Much to Bob’s surprise and to both our amusement, I caught him with his own turn-of-phrase and must admit that it was fun.
Now, with a heavy heart, our thoughts, prayers and sympathies belong to our friend Sandra, Bob’s loving wife, his daughter, Laurie Krzywosinski, son, Rob Booth, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and extended family members in their sorrow at this time. Additionally, to the members of the Basset Hound Club of America as Bob’s friendship, charm, wit, service, and breed expertise will be sadly missed.
The above address is an obituary written by Rob Booth.
Bob will be laid to rest at Fort Sam Houston Cemetery/Mausoleum (San Antonio) on Tuesday, Nov. 24th. He’ll be placed in the Mausoleum. It’s to be a small gathering so, send any cards, etc. to his and Sandra Booth’s home address.
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