4/6/1934 - 11/7/2019
Our Dad was born April 6, 1934, in Holland, Michigan (a Dutch community) to an adorable 17-year-old, sweet & doting Mom “Billie” and her dashing aviator husband, Lester Musgrove. Bobby loved living in two worlds – Wisconsin and deep South Dade. He told us of playing with a toy cannon in South Milwaukee; and with a pet alligator in the Redland. As a pioneering aviation family, they crisscrossed the country going to airshows, offering rides and thrills with girls “walking on the wings” in mid-air. His Dad even won the New York City Air Race beating Jimmy Doolittle. Then came WWII and Col. Lester Musgrove “flew the Hump” with missions over The Himalayas, in the China-Burma-India Theater. Bob dreamt of flying and adventure while watching newsreels at the Seminole Theater on Krome Avenue in Homestead.
He flew solo long before he was supposed to, before his driver’s license, and jumped at the chance to fly Stearman bi-planes for the Aerial Blight Control company. Taking off at the first crack of light (pre-dawn) he’d spray down bugs - ALL DAY LONG - and land after the sun set. Pesticides sloshed around his boots for hours every day. He loved it! Once, he had to make a life-or-death decision in a terribly overloaded plane that would not climb…Choose quickly… The truck on the road, the pigs in their pens, or the old barn? He dragged his bi-plane’s wheels through the tops of the fencing to slow down, and slid into the old barn with nary a scratch. We believe it was Mr. Stokely of Stokely-Van Camp’s that came to inspect his plane. He said, “Well, Bobby, it seems you have managed to save my plane!” The bi-plane stood magnificently in the middle of the abandoned barn with streams of sunlight illuminating the dust swirling about it in the air. Then Stokely reached out to touch the plane’s wingtip… and it shuddered to the dirt floor like a house of cards. Woosh!
The Korean War began on June 25th, 1950, and Bob was only 16 but raring to go! The Navy told him “we need you to fly wherever the bugs are, all across America, and keep killing the pests eating our soldier’s food.” And so, he did. He flew for years. At 21, he had more flight hours than any other applicant when he was hired at Capitol Airlines, which merged with United Air Lines. Captain Bob Musgrove flew DC3s, Constellations, DC-8s, 727s, 747s and 747 “glass” cockpits from Chicago to Hawaii, Singapore, Australia, and many more lovely, and exotic places around the world. He endured the stress of rioting Bears football fans onboard his flights, the occasionally tipsy passenger who threatened to strangle him – and only managing to pull off his clip tie (so 70s), and even the fear of a bomb or a hijacker going to Cuba!
Our Mom, Barbara Musgrove, saved Dad’s pesticide-ridden bowels with all sorts of homeopathic concoctions and natural foods. And, together they ran the Boy Scout Troop, assisted the Girl Scouts, and created all of our kid adventures.
Dad camped with us, taught us to swim; shoot; hike; water ski; snow ski; ice skate; build an igloo, treehouse, bridge; and a gazillion forts; fly kites, ride motorcycles, catch bugs, hunt, go frogging, learn to drive stick; and work. David learned everything technical from Dad and quickly surpassed him, approvingly. Dad bought Debbie a horse, and then another for a friend to ride, sometimes it was Dad riding “Buck” or “Squaw Baby.”
He loved the Old Ford Club of Miami showing off their vintage automobiles in the Orange Bowl Parade with the wives dressed in flapper dresses standing on the running boards, us kids riding in the rumble seats. Next, our parents revived the Rare Fruit Council, International - introducing new members to their very own rare tropical fruit plants in the RFCI Plant Exchanges: mango, monstera deliciosa, annona, jackfruit, exotic pisang raja bananas, and a brand-new exotic perfume of a fruit – shaped like a star when you cut it – the Carambola! Mom’s crazy idea to expand their $2800 plant sale became a labor of love for all of us, netting $60,000 by 1pm the first day in the Youth Fair’s largest building. We were all exhausted, but deliriously happy with the success.
Dad found us a home in the horsey-enclave on 123rd Avenue between Bird and Kendall Drive; but the area was under eminent annihilation by developers wielding any politicians who would manipulate zoning laws in their favor. Mom decided to “Save Horse Country” and Dad encouraged, facilitated, and financed everything. Debbie and David fought alongside them, we learned a lot! We also bought houses together and “flipped” them before it was fashionable. We trained and learned to train others in dozens of things, including politics, campaigning, fund-raising, plants, and horticulture, animal husbandry, shooting rifles, shotguns, and pistols, safe hunting, and flying. Dad and David taught others “HOW TO FLY’ and many years of enjoyment were passed along, and so on, and on! Dad was forced, like all commercial pilots, to stop flying his beloved 747s and cheerfully went back to flying “with bugs in your teeth” in ultralights and light-sport aircraft. He was never happier than with his LAFA buddies, the Light Aircraft Flying Association. They offered rides and thrills flying over Homestead, Florida City, and the Redland for their guests; but the best part was the camaraderie they shared at the end of a long day of flying.
Debbie and David lost our absolutely amazing mother in 2005. Dad had nursed her for the terrible, slow decline of breast cancer that metastasized. He was by her side, again, and always. Lucky for him, after many years, he found a new soulmate in Carol B. Evans, a vivacious and incredible professional working woman, who happened to be in the right place at the right time for them to meet. We love God-incidences in our family. They were HAPPY! Anybody who saw them could tell that. And she was by his side, until the end on Thursday, November 7th.
Bob leaves his beloved partner, Carol B. Evans; and previously, Barbara L. Musgrove, his wife and life partner; daughter Debra L. “Debbie” Musgrove Zimmerman (Roger); David Robert Musgrove (LeAnne); Grandchildren: Brandy Lynn Musgrove Givens (Alexander); Victoria Renee Musgrove (Nathan Warner); Nathaniel David Musgrove; Andrew “A.J.” Stokes (Amber); Anna Lessor (Peter Silvernale); David Ronald Zimmerman (Lori); Timothy Oliver Zimmerman (Tosha); and Alexander Roger Wade Zimmerman (Jessie Meier). Great-grandchildren: Rachel Olivia + Melanie Renee Zimmerman; Isabella Jade + Tristan Riley Zimmerman; and Jackson James + Harper Lynn Stokes.
God is Blessing Bob-Dad-Papa again ‘cuz Now He’s Flying All Over Heaven!
Thursday, 11/14/19, 6-8 pm - Visitation at Branam Funeral Home, Homestead.
Friday, 11/15/19, 10 am - Funeral at Branam Funeral Home, Homestead.
Friday, 11/15/19, 11 am - Graveside at Caballero Rivero Palms Woodlawn Cemetery.