Robert "Bob" Haggerty, 79, and Life Member of the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department, passed away on April 15 in his home in Compton, MD. He lived in Woodbridge for 36 years after he moved there in 1962.
After the funeral on May 26, in which Bob was given a military burial at Quantico National Ceremony, the family shared their memories of Bob as a husband and a father.
After being born in Quantico on base on June 3, 1931, Bob lived in Occoquan as a child.
“Dad used to tell stories about when he was a child,” his son Robert Haggerty, Jr, said. “They would be down in Occoquan - it reminded me of the show ‘The Little Rascals.’ When they were small - 6 or 7 - back then, Quantico marines would do maneuvers up to Occoquan. They would basically come into the town and the kids would hide in the alleys and throw tomatoes and potatoes at the soldiers as they’re coming in pretending to take over the town.”
Bob grew up in a military family.
“His father was on Quantico Base several times between World War II and the Korean War,” his wife Laura Haggerty said.
Bob also joined the military, signing up for the reserves.
“When the Korean War started, his reserve unit was called up for active duty,” Robert said. “He went to the U.S.S. New Jersey as a Marine. During training, before they were actually deployed, he and another Marine were in charge of the anti-aircraft guns. He was carrying a heavy box of ammo with one hand going up a ladder, and he hit a slippery spot and fell a story and a half and severely injured his foot and his ankle.”
“This happened off Cuba in Guantanamo Bay,” Laura continued. “He was in the hospital for 14 months, and that cut his career completely out. But then he decided to go to Chicago - he had some college behind him and he went to DeVry University and came back to work as an electronic engineer in Falls Church for 40 years.”
“He did government contracts, and he couldn’t tell us half the things he was working on,” Robert said. “He did some things for the military, and did some things for the Apollo space shuttle.”
But Bob wasn’t the type to look for praise and recognition.
“He was very reserved and quiet. He was a very home body type of person,” Laura said. “He was devoted to his family. He had very few hobbies other than the fire department. He could do anything and everything around the home - repair, fix anything, whether it was electrical, plumbing or carpentry.”
“He was a soft-spoken person, but he was very intelligent,” Robert said. “He never felt like he had to show that or be above anyone else. He made people seem like they were equal to him, and that’s what people really respected about him.”
“He had a way of being able to instruct you and make you feel like you were doing it on your own,” Laura said.
Bob worked for OWL because he enjoyed serving the community. He joined in 1964 or 1965, Laura estimated. He also served as an advocate for volunteer firemen in the county.
“He really just wanted to help the community,” Robert said. “He was low-key. He would help the neighbor next door. It was something he was good at.”
Bob made sure to spend time with his family.
“He was big on camping, animals, and the outdoors,” Robert said. “Growing up, my brother and I could have any animal we wanted: snakes, rabbits, frogs, anything. We went through the whole gamut of critters. That’s one thing I got from him - a love of nature. You don’t go around killing things, running over things.”
“Bobby rescued a vole one time when my husband was involved in a brush fire,” Laura said. “We ended up having it in an aquarium for five or six years.”
Once Bob found a duck egg on a pier. He took it to a Mennonite family in Prince William County. They had an incubator and gave the hatched duck to the Haggertys, along with another wild duck that had hatched.
“In the fall, they ended up flying away, but the next year, they came back, and they did that for a few years,” Robert said.
Bob always quietly persevered.
“He went through a heck of a life,” Robert said. “His whole life, there was something going on. He had two quadruple bypasses and throat cancer. But he never showed it. He never sat around.”
“It never held him back,” Laura said.
The Haggertys ask that memorial contributions be made to the OWL Volunteer Fire Department at 910 Highams Court in Woodbridge.