Bob Christman, Korean War vet, dies at 86

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Veteran, CPA and grandfather Bob Christman, 89, with one of his sons, Steve Christman. (Photo courtesy of Steven Christman's Facebook page)

Bob Christman, a Korean War veteran, CPA and grandfather residing in New Hyde Park, died last Tuesday. He was 86.

Christman, 86, was found dead in his bed on Thursday by his family from a suspected heart attack, Newsday reported. He had lived alone for the past 11 years after the death of his wife, Carolyn.

Relatives said that Christman’s death had come as a shock, considering he had been very active in his final years.

Last month, Christman had received a Hempstead Town certificate of merit award for his volunteer work of helping senior citizens do their taxes each year and for serving as the commander and later treasurer of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8031.

He had been eating out regularly with friends and watching baseball games late at night, said Christman’s friend and commander of the New Hyde Park VFW Post 8031. Everything had seemed ordinary.

Christman was born in South Ozone Park in 1932. Growing up in Queens during the Great Depression, Christman had learned the virtues of reliability and always having someone’s back, according to friends and family following Chistman’s death last Tuesday.

These traits were further embedded in his morale when he was drafted into the Army in the Korean War, and when he was faced with the task of taking care of his grandchildren, according to anecdotes from Steve Christman.

That’s why Christman’s colleagues at the Veterans of Foreign Wars nonprofit organization he was the treasurer of were surprised when he didn’t show up for an afternoon meeting last Tuesday, according to Newsday.

“He’s a guy that if he said he was going to be there 10 minutes to 10, he’d be there…right on the dot,” said Obertis.

“Whatever he said he’s do, he’d do. There’s certain people that you can depend on, and he’s one of them,” said Steve Christman.

Christman didn’t remember much about his mother because she was diagnosed with tuberculosis when he was very young, Christman’s son, Steve, from West Hempstead, told Newsday. She was later put in a sanitarium, Newsday reported.

Christman and his two older sisters looked out for each other, even after Christman began his career with numbers by working as part of the accounting department of a construction firm.

Christman was drafted into the Army of the Korean War at age 20 in 1952, and he ended up about two miles from the Battle of Pork Chop Hill.

Under the GI Bill, Christman went on to Pace University to receive an accounting degree. He then worked for Sperry & Hutchinson in New York City for more than 30 years as a CPA.

Christman and his wife, Carolyn, had three sons; Steve, Robert and Gary Christman. He is also survived by one of his sisters, Dorothy Bentancourt, 89.

Christman was a strong believer that men should go out and work, and women should raise the children, according to Newsday, however, this all changed when Christman was faced with his hardest task yet – changing his newborn grandson’s dirty diaper.

Steve Christman told Newsday he believes that his father was humbled when caring for his two grandchildren, and that he enjoyed the new experience he had never taken part in before.

“The first time he sat with the kids with a bottle, he really loved it,” explained Steve Christman.

Christman’s daughter-in-law Tricia Christman of West Hempstead, told Newsday that her father had made the most of every second.

Father’s Day was always a special time for the Christman family. “Every father’s day we would do something. When the kids were younger we would go to Jones Beach and play pitch and putt, or we’d go to the yankee game over at the old Yankee Stadium,” said Steve Christman. As his father grew older, the family began to host backyard barbeques with the entire family.

“He just lived life to the very end,” she said.

Gretchen Keller can be reached at gretchenkellerr@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @gretchenkellerr.

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