Robert H. McKinnon


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Gloucester - Robert H. “Bob” McKinnon, 94, husband of Virginia R. (Frontiero) McKinnon, passed away on Thursday evening, January 10th at his home in Gloucester surrounded by his family.
Bob was born October 31, 1924 in Gloucester, son of the late Hilary F. and Lola (Tanner) McKinnon. Bob attended local schools. He was an outstanding athlete at Gloucester High School, especially as a freshman, being on the senior football team. He left school to enter the US Navy during World War II. Later he was awarded his GHS diploma at a special graduation ceremony for veterans.
Bob served as a Motor Machinist Mate Second Class in the Asiatic Pacific Theatre. He took part in the invasions of Tarawa and Saipan. He was a survivor of an explosion at Pearl Harbor's second disaster at West Loch on May 21, 1944, one of the world's best kept secrets revealed 60 years later in 2003. Seven LST's were loaded with 29 tanks, sailors and marines for a massive attack on Saipan. An explosion blew up and sank all seven LST's and killed some 163 men and injured 396 Marines and sailors. The West Loch Disaster was veiled in secrecy so as not to compromise the US operation in the ongoing war. The attack however only delayed the invasion by one day and was a major catalyst leading to the surrender of the Japanese. Bob served on some LCT's and on an AFD, floating dry dock in the Philippines for six months. He was in charge of the engine room and machine shop. He was awarded two Battle Stars, World War II Victory Medal and the American Theater Ribbon.
Upon his discharge after World War II he joined his father and worked as a diesel machinist for the Independent Machine Co becoming a partner in 1972. Shortly after the shop was taken by Urban Renewal. He went to work for Rose's Machine Shop and later for Bomco, Inc. He was the lock and draw bridge tender at the Blyman Bridge in Gloucester retiring in 1988 after suffering a major stroke.
Robert was a body builder and was very active in the YMCA in his youth and was revered as "Big Bob" by the younger crowd. He never entered any contest but would have won first place in his ability to lift weights. Bob has a home gym and exercises daily even after a specialist advised him never to lift weights again due to an inoperable aortic aneurysm in 1997, he continues to lift.
In 2003 he was severely burned in a home accident. Specialist stated he would never use his right hand again. He suffered third degree burns on twenty percent of his body. He had surgery for skin grafts and was in rehab for six weeks. He continued to fight against all odds and regained his strength.
In 2009 Bob fell while climbing the ledge in our back yard fracturing his hip and later had it replaced. In 2012 Bob suffered his fifth stroke.
Bob enjoyed flea markets and yard sales, buying broken items, as he could fix anything. He delights in his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All are welcome in his home. He especially enjoyed lunches with his friends Elmer Miller, Joe Orange, Larry Mello, the late Tony Rao and Gordon Hilshey. After lunch all were welcome to coffee and pie at his home. They listened to the music of the 40's and 50's guessing the songs and singers.
Bob was a member of the American Legion, Elks, Victori-Rocci Post and DAV. He is a communicant of Holy Family Parish and a member of the Cape Ann Cursillo Community and Gloucester Stroke Club. He also loves his Fabulous Friday Lunch weekly at the Gloucester House.
Bob enjoyed his home, finding many projects to keep him busy or just sitting on his deck enjoying the beautiful view and watching the beautiful sunsets.
Robert is survived by his wife Virginia of 65 years; his seven children, son Hilary of Beverly, daughters Lola and spouse Ralph Stanton, Mary-Ellen Burnham, Regina Laidlaw, Roberta Wallace, son Michael and daughter Carol McKinnon all of Gloucester. Eight grandchildren, James and spouse Kathleen of Essex, David and spouse Melissa of Rockport, Joel and spouse Felicia of Gloucester, Cheryl and husband Scott Frary of Swampscott, Robert and fiancé Kayleigh Bishop of Gloucester, Jessica Laidlaw of Hawaii, Jennie and spouse Nat of Danvers. Eight great-grandchildren, Melissa McKinnon of Florida, Riley, Benjamin and Elizabeth McKinnon, Jolie and Ryan Frary, Astrid Laidlaw, Alissa Frost and Roman Ventura; Niece Natalie and spouse David McKay; brother-in-law and sisters-in-law, Paul and Dorothy Frontiero of North Carolina, Mary Ann and Randy Beaton, Ida and Robert Doane of Essex; and godson Richard Doucette Jr. Robert had two wonderful caretakers, Rosalie Testaverde and Frank Militello. He was predeceased by his sister Margaret McKinnon and stepbrothers, Donald, Dell, and Woodrow Greeke and their spouses. Also, his mother and father-in-law Mary (Piscitello) and Michael Frontiero, sister-in-law, Rosalie and her spouse Richard Doucette of Manchester.
His funeral mass will be held in Our Lady of Good on Monday, January 14th at 10 a.m. Extended family and friends are cordially invited to attend. Visiting hours will be held on Sunday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington Street, Gloucester. The burial will be held in Calvary Cemetery. Contributions may be made in his name Gloucester Veterans payable to the Gloucester Fund, in the memo please put Veterans Office, Cape Ann Office of Veterans Services, City Hall, 9 Dale Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930. For online condolences, please visit
Published on January 12, 2019
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