Southern California Rotorcraft Association

Past President Bob Pettee Dies

The SoCal Rotors Board of Directors is saddened by the passing of our Past President, Bob Pettee.

The following is an obituary that was written by Bob’s wife.

Robert Holmes Pettee, Jr. died July 7, 2022 after a valiant fight against malignant melanoma.

Robert was born on August 26, 1950 in Greensboro, NC, the son of Robert H. Pettee, Sr. and Laura Maie Shaver Pettee who predeceased him. His brother William Trantham Shaver Pettee also predeceased him.

Robert’s family moved to Wilmington, NC and lived on Borden Avenue where in 1951 he met the love of his life and future wife. He attended Forest Hills Elementary School. His family moved with his father’s work to Puerto Rico and eventually settled in Walnut Cove, NC.

Robert (now known as Bob) made lifelong friends at Christ School and graduated in 1968. He subsequently attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Inspired by events in Southeast Asia, he left college to enlist in the US Army. His ancestors were Patriots and Soldiers. He had listened as his grandfather and his father told about their war-time infantry experiences and he felt it was his patriotic duty to fight for his country. He knew he did not want to march through his war, so he opted for flight training.
Bob found his calling as a helicopter pilot and it was his vocation for 52 years.

He flew as a fish spotter off tuna boats in South America.

He flew for the news for Channel 39 KCST in San Diego and he was “Captain Bob” for Channel 4 KNBC News in Los Angeles, He was a lifelong “Newsie” and contributed to innovations to news coverage in California. He was honored by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for Outstanding Hard News Reporting and received an Emmy in 1997.

He flew helicopter tours of islands, volcanoes and waterfalls in Hawaii.

Bob was Chief Pilot for TV News12 in New York.

His recent flying was with emergency medical transport companies; the most recent with Air Evac Lifeteam 97 in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Robert made a significant contribution to Historic Wilmington, NC by restoring the DuBois~Boatwright House (built ca. 1760).

With over 30,000 hours in the sky Robert retired in December of 2021.

His passing is mourned by a host of aviators, mechanics, medical professionals and media professionals who worked with Bob. They remember him with fondness and admiration as a consummate professional.

His was a life well-lived.

Surviving family members left to cherish wonderful memories are his son, Robert Holmes Pettee, III “Trey”, his daughter Seneca Asia Chase Pettee and his wife, Julia Boatwright Pettee “Julie”.

His family loves Robert dearly and misses him intensely.

We want to thank Robert’s medical care professionals:

Dr. Tsuyoshi Inoshita and staff
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Dr. Daniel Dawson, Nurse Elizabeth and staff
Dr. Kenneth W. Kotz and staff
Dr. Michael Nichols, Nurse Mary Kathryn and staff
Novant Hospital (NHRMC) 4th floor nursing staff
Novant Diagnostic Center (Wrightsville Avenue)
Dr. Daniel Barzana, Nurse Nina and staff
Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, especially Shauna, Rebecca, Sara, Mary, Karen, Brenda, Trevor and Bree

Friends and family are welcome to gather to remember Robert and celebrate his life at the residence in Wilmington, NC on Friday evening October 7th and at the funeral at St. James Parish on Saturday, October 8th at 10:00 with interment to follow at Oakdale Cemetery.

Suggested donations in Robert’s memory may be made to causes he cared sincerely about: Tunnels to Towers, Wounded Warriors, St. Jude Hospital, Christ School and Historic Wilmington Foundation.

R.I.P. Captain Bob