Obituary of Robert John Terpstra
Robert John Terpstra, retired engineer, passed away peacefully at his home with his wife Marina “Ineke” Terpstra, at his bedside on Saturday morning, May 11, 2019. He was 80 years old. The son of Louise (Gottlich) and John Terpstra, Jr., Bob was born in Melrose, Massachusetts and grew up in Malden and Saugus. A graduate of Saugus High School, he enlisted in the Navy when he was 18 years old and served for 4 years, including as an Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class aboard the USS Arneb. Bob was onboard for one of its earliest Naval trips to Antarctica, called Operation Deep Freeze, to resupply and transport scientists to McMurdo Bay. Bob’s Antarctica experience lasted 6 months during which time the crew was required to make significant repairs for ice damage due to severe weather conditions. He was proud of his time in the service and was thrilled to have experienced and seen the southernmost point on Earth in all its natural splendor.
Bob was discharged from the Navy in 1959, after which he joined the General Electric apprenticeship program. He went on to attend Northeastern University earning a Bachelor of Science Degree. He had a long career as a Manufacturing Engineer in the computer hardware industry producing the earliest paper tape storage equipment at Inforex, then the original Wang word processors, followed by mini computers and peripherals associated with the computer industry. During his lengthy career he worked for such high tech luminaries as General Electric, Honeywell, Inforex, and Wang. He experienced the remarkable evolution of large cabinet size computers shrinking to laptop size, yet becoming far more powerful. His engineering skills were also applied at home; he could often be found tinkering in his workshop, and he designed and built various structures, ranging from small puzzle toys for his grandchildren, up to larger structures -- including a greenhouse, a small windmill, a children’s playhouse, structures for his various animals, and a 2-car garage and barn.
Bob had an inquisitive mind; he especially enjoyed science and technology. He was a regular attendee at the Jenks Center in Winchester where he took pleasure in exchanging insights and experiences with other members of the Science and Technology Discussion Group and the Men’s Discussion Group. Bob was also civic-minded; he served as an elected Burlington Town Meeting Member for several years. Bob was an avid world traveler with his wife, both of whom enjoyed exploring Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, as well as various national parks and cities throughout the United States. There were also yearly trips to the Netherlands to visit his wife’s family.
Bob’s great love was nature and the outdoors. He spent hours tending to his flower and vegetable gardens. He also raised chickens, ducks, and rabbits for several years. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the outdoors as a Boy Scout Leader for his sons’ troops when they were young. He was an avid hiker and camped all over New England with his children as they were growing up and then in later years with his adult children and grandchildren. He and his wife Ineke enjoyed canoeing the Nashua and Concord Rivers and countless ponds, lakes, and rivers in New Hampshire. He never stopped appreciating all the wonders of nature that surround us every day.
Bob was the beloved husband of Marina “Ineke” (Bruijn) Terpstra. He was the loving father of Anita Terpstra & her husband Essam Abdelhamid of Hampton, NH, Timothy Terpstra & his wife Leslie Koplow of Concord, MA and Bryan Terpstra & his wife Julie Fitzmaurice of Concord, MA. He was the brother of Louise Leopold of Saugus, half-brother of Jerry Terpstra of Freeport, ME, and half-brother of Cindy Harris of Nova Scotia. He was the proud grandfather of Theodore, William, Mitchell, & Caitlin Terpstra and Emma, Sara, Sam, & Olivia Abdelhamid. He was the former husband of Sandra Taube of Hampton, NH.
A visitation will be held at the Edward V. Sullivan Funeral Home, 43 Winn Street, Burlington (exit 34 off Rt. 128/95, Woburn side) on Thursday, May 16 from 10 to 11 a.m. and will conclude with a funeral service at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are respectfully invited. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Bob’s name may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, PO Box 98018, Washington DC 20090-8018 or www.lls.org.
Edward V. Sullivan
43 Winn Street
Burlington, MA 01803
Ph: (781) 272-0050