Robert “Bob” Alfred Roessle, a longtime resident of Southampton, died at home on December 5, 2016. He was 92.
Born in Brooklyn to Alfred and Loretta Roessle on January 19, 1924, Mr. Roessle was raised in Richmond Hill, Queens. At 16, he worked at Bendex Aviation Corporation in Philadelphia, joining the U.S. Navy in 1942. During World War II, he was deployed to the Pacific Theatre attached to the VC-27 Squadron “The Saints.” He served as an aviation ordnance man and turret gunner aboard the aircraft carrier USS Savo Island, honorably discharged, and was awarded a presidential citation for fighting in six battles, including one in which a kamikaze crashed into his carrier. Many decades after his discharge, his squadron buddies located him for annual reunions—a tradition that they kept up for 10 years.
After the Navy, Mr. Roessle worked in the linoleum and tile installation business. In 1950, he joined the New York City Police Department and attended the City University of New York’s John Jay College, majoring in criminal justice. He served as one of “New York’s Finest” for 22 years, initially as a patrolman and then earning the rank of detective in 1958. As a detective, he investigated homicides, hijackings by organized crime, and many other high profile cases.
After retiring in 1972, he spent a year as a security supervisor, overseeing high value mail at JFK Airport under the Postal Inspector Services. During the next six years he served as a chief investigator for Citicorp’s Worldwide Travelers Check Division. He led a staff of investigators that identified fraudulent losses, leading to arrests and prosecutions. Following this, he moved to VISA International in San Mateo, California, to organize a security program for their new launch of Travelers Cheques. During these seven years, he led an investigation unit, traveling to six continents identifying fraudulent and counterfeit practices, frequently providing expert testimony in foreign courts. One prominent case is chronicled by Thomas Thompson in “Serpentine.”
A lifelong lover of projects and building things, Mr. Roessle built a summer house on Hills Pond in Hampton, New York, where the family spent 10 great summers before buying a handyman special on Little Fresh Pond in Southampton in 1977. In 1985, he and his wife, Estelle, whom he married on April 18, 1954, retired to their summer home in Southampton.
Mr. Roessle was an active member of the local community, and took particular interest in protecting and advocating for Little Fresh Pond in North Sea. He co-founded the Little Fresh Pond Association in 1986, serving as its president for many years. During his tenure as president, he joined the New York State Federation of Lake Associations and enlisted the association in the Department of Environmental Conservation Citizen Statewide Lake Assessment Program. NYSFOLA has published nine of his articles in their newsletter “Waterworks.” He served nine years on NYSFOLA’s board of directors, attended conference and board meetings in upstate New York, and arranged for a Southampton Town Board member to be a keynote speaker at several conferences.
Up until his death, he was a member of the Town Trustee-sponsored Lakes and Pond Association. He made an impassioned plea to the Trustees for help during the infestation of low water-milfoil in Little Fresh Pond, resulting in the Trustees placing the pond in their budget. He also organized a LFP Association seminar with speakers from the DEC, Town Trustees president, and a sonar representative and limnologist. He recommended the Town Trustees for a NYSFOLA Stewardship Award, which they won, and the LFP Association received the award in a subsequent year.
He was a member of the North Sea Community Association, the North Sea Citizen Advisory Committee, and the No Name Club. He was a 61-year member of Lodge No. 892 of the Free & Accepted Masons in Queensboro. In his spare time, he wrote a book and was a master inventor. Currently, he has a patent pending for a new source of electricity.
Mr. Roessle loved to spend his winters in Siesta Key, Florida, with his family. He had many hobbies including carpentry, playing golf, tending his garden, going to the gym at SYS, and reading. He built everything: the family home in Hampton, tables, desks, lamps, bird houses, stools, napkin holders, and much, much more. In his 80s, he built four wooden boats for The Clamman Seafood Market to use as raw bars, and they are still in use today.
Mr. Roessle is survived by his wife of 62 years, Estelle; a daughter, Meredith Roessle; a granddaughter, Kaitlin Hamilton and husband Glen Hamilton; and a grandson, Logan Roessle-Tupper. He’s predeceased by a son, Ronald Robert Roessle; and a grandson, Derek James Roessle-Meerman.
Funeral services will be held at Calverton National Cemetery on Friday, December 16, at 10 a.m. A memorial service will follow at Seasons of Southampton.
Memorial donations may be made to the CKR (Cooke, Krzyzewski, Roessle-Meerman) Memorial Scholarship Fund, 196 Big Fresh Pond Road, Southampton, NY 11968; Masonic Brotherhood Fund: Utica Masonic Home -℅ Bro. Christopher Bonomo at 1953 Cole Drive, East Meadow, NY 11554, or to the NYS Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA) at P.O. Box 84 LaFayette, NY 13084.