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Obituary: Robert J. Kretvix


Robert J. Kretvix, age 96, passed away peacefully on Monday, March 6, 2017 at his home in Rutland, VT.  He is survived by his wife, Pauline, of 74 years, his two sons, Rob and Kurt, and four grandchildren, Kim, Chris, Hannah and Lucas.

Bob graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Bridgeport Engineering Institute just prior to World War II.  Before graduation in 1940 he joined Voight Sikorsky Aircraft in the Experimental Dept., where he helped Igor Sikorsky develop the VS-300 helicopter and VS-44A Flying Boat.  He later worked on the R-5 helicopter designs before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, where he was assigned to Freeman Field, Indiana, home of the very first helicopter pilot and mechanic training unit.  In 1945, Bob instructed pilots and mechanics in the Air Sea Rescue units in Hawaii, Guam, Philippine Islands and Okinawa in preparation for the invasion of Japan.  He earned the nickname “Crash Kretvix” after surviving multiple helicopter crashes.

Upon release from the Air Corps in 1946, he rejoined Sikorsky Aircraft for 41 years until his retirement in 1987.  During that period he held increasing levels of responsibility starting as Quality Control Manager to FAA Coordinator and Chief of Government Quality Requirements for Sikorsky.  After retirement, Bob continued to actively support the Sikorsky Retirees group, who ultimately restored one of only two VS-44A flying boats, the Excambian, which is now on display at the New England Air Museum outside of Hartford.

Bob lived in the Milford and Orange areas for about 70 years.  After his retirement he continued to lead Sikorsky plant tours on a volunteer basis until a few years before leaving Connecticut to be closer to family in Vermont in 2013.

Bob now joins his lifelong childhood friends, Ralph Denon and Joe Cuming (among others), with whom he shared many good times, family events and vacations over the years.  His family will miss the perpetual “Tuesday Night” gatherings, as well as his loving and steadfast care.  His final resting place will be Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport with other family members.

A family funeral service was held on March 8 in Vermont.  An open memorial service is being planned and will be scheduled in the next few months in the Bridgeport, CT area.  Please contact his son Rob at 908-397-7506 or to be kept informed of those plans.

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