My Dad’s Obituary. This Mentor Will Always Walk With Me.

Dateline: Burnt Hills, NY

Robert S. “Bob” Speck, 87, of Wendy Lane, died on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at the Maplewood Manor Nursing Home in Ballston Spa.  He was born on July 7, 1926 in Gloucester, MA and was the son of the late Reinhard and Gertrude (Marshall) Speck.

Bob Speck will be remembered locally for his four decades of dedicated community service and public education leadership in the Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake School District. He served 36 years as member of the Board of Education, often serving as Board President. He also served terms on the board of directors for Capital District B.O.C.E.S. and the New York State School Board Association. Prior to these school board roles, he also served in volunteer leadership roles at the Charvale Pool Association, Burnt Hills Junior Baseball Commission, Hickory Hill Ski Center, and the PTA at Stevens Elementary School. He was recognized for his service and program support with many awards, including the BH-BL Founder’s Award, the BH-BL Rotary Citizen of the Year, induction in the BH-BL Sports Hall of Fame, and the naming of the middle school Media Center in his honor. He also served as the school district historian and worked with the District to publish a book in 2005 on the 200-year school district history.

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Bob Speck grew up on a two-acre dairy farm in Rockport, MA. As a boy, he helped his family run a dairy farm, milking cows and delivering raw milk before school. A nephew of Native American anthropologist Dr. Frank G. Speck, he spent summers learning about indigenous ways of life from Mohegan Chief Harold Tantaquidgeon and later became an Eagle Scout. After graduating from Rockport High School in 1944, Speck enlisted in the US Army Air Forces during World War II and was in training to be an aviator cadet when the war ended. He enrolled in Tufts University and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Engineering Physics in 1949.

Robert S. Speck

Speck married his high school sweetheart, Elizabeth “Betty” Speck in 1949, and soon joined the General Electric Company. After assignments in Lynn, MA, and San Jose’, CA, Bob and Betty settled in Burnt Hills in 1958, and Speck began a 36-year career for GE working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, NY, and the Kesslering Site, in West Milton, NY. His work was largely involved in the design and construction of nuclear power plants for US Navy ships and submarines, many of those years doing ground-breaking work under the direct supervision of Admiral Hyman Rickover. Speck received his Masters of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering from Union College in 1963, and later authored a nuclear power training manual for GE which was used for many years by the US Navy.

Speck was always focused on getting things done, whether at work, in his community service, or in his yard. But, he was focused most on his family. Bob, also known as “Pete” to neighborhood and hometown friends, was always together with Betty at family academic and sporting events where they have been enthusiastic boosters. He and Betty have been fixtures at BH-BL and Union College soccer and ice hockey games. Each summer, the two of them gathered kids and grand-kids together for vacation stays in their hometown of Rockport, MA, spending time together with relatives on Long Beach and cheering for their beloved Red Sox. Bob was so proud of his children and his grand-children, their lives, their achievements, their togetherness. He lifted up others with his energy and his wit. He will always be remembered for his dedicated work, his sense of integrity, his intelligence, and his light-hearted nature.

He was the beloved husband of Elizabeth (Marr) Speck, his wife of 64 years, his friend and partner for almost 70 years;

Caring father of Laurie Speck-Mach of Broadalbin, NY; Robert Speck, Jr of Manchester Center, VT, Dr. Douglas Speck of West Newbury, VT, and Brian Speck of Burnt Hills; and father-in-law of Jo Kirsch, Dr. Claire Bolon-Speck, and Kim Speck;

Devoted grandfather of Heather and Brandon Mach of Broadalbin, NY; Alex Boyle of Los Angeles, CA and Natalie Boyle of Boston, MA; Emily, Megan, and Abby Speck of West Newbury, VT; and Ian, Cameron, and Sean Speck of Burnt Hills;

Brother of the late Dr. Staniford “Sonny” Speck of San Francisco, CA; Ralph “Bud” Speck and Francis “Lad” Speck of Sioux City, IA, and Gertrude “Peggy” (Speck) Shea of Rockport, MA;

And “Uncle Pete” to many nieces and nephews.

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A celebration of life memorial service will be held on Saturday at 10:30 AM at the Burnt Hills United Methodist Church, 816 Route 50 in Burnt Hills, NY. Following the service will be a reception at the Robert S Speck Media Library at the BH-BL Middle School.

Interment of Bob’s cremated remains will be in the family plot in Beach Grove Cemetery in Rockport, MA on Saturday, September 7, 2013.

Those who wish are encouraged to make memorial donations to the Burnt Hills United Methodist Church or the BH-BL Robert S Speck Scholarship Fund c/o Townley & Wheeler Funeral Home.

Many thanks are extended by Bob’s family and friends and to the staff at Maplewood Manor, Saratoga County VNA, and Saratoga County Hospice for their loving care. Special thanks to Karen Murdick and Fred Hess.

To view Mr. Speck’s Book of Memories please visit

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