2015-01-30 / Obituaries

Robert Underwood

Robert Foster Underwood, 68, passed away peacefully after a 14-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, surrounded by loved ones on Jan. 16, 2015, at his home in Glenview, Illinois. Rob lived in Glenview with his wife and best friend, Catherine, and son, Andrew, for the past 29 years.

Rob was born July 6, 1946 to the late Frederick J and Mary Frances Poole Underwood in Worcester, Massachusetts. He graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, New York, obtained a B.S. in hotel management from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, and an MBA from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Evanston, Illinois.

A Boy Scout and accomplished baseball player as a youth, Rob’s love for sports and outdoor pursuits would last all his life. Rob was an avid fisherman, enjoying both fly and reel fishing. Rob was also fond of golf and gardening.

Rob was an acclaimed chef, winning national awards for both his cheesecake and gingerbread houses. It would be food and hospitality that would guide much of his life’s work. Rob spent many summers in Kennebunkport during the 1950s and ’60s during cherished family vacations and it was there that Rob discovered the restaurant business, working for several summers at the Arundel Hotel (now The Breakwater) and the Port House.

It was at the Arundel that Rob met his first wife, Cheryl Smith, and in 1968 they were married in Kennebunkport. Employment opportunities would take Rob and Cheryl to New Jersey, Connecticut, Michigan and Vermont before they settled back in Kennebunk in 1977, where they together faithfully restored a pre-Revolutionary War home at 93 Cat Mousam Road. Rob served as assistant food service director and later food service director for Saga Foods before accepting a position as administrator for Shared Services at Maine Medical Center in Portland. While he was at MMC, he received the prestigious international Silver Plate award for his innovations in food service.

The special needs of his daughter Kristen prompted Rob’s service on the MSAD 71 (now RSU 21) Kennebunk/Kennebunkport school board in the early 1980s. Together with Cheryl, Rob also took a fledgling Maine Epilepsy Foundation and created an organization that provided significant opportunities and assistance for individuals with epilepsy in Maine.

Rob moved to Glenview, Illinois, in 1986 when he married his current wife, Cathy. He began his Chicago-based career as a healthcare advisor with Laventhol & Horwath, then senior consultant at Advocate Lutheran General’s Parkside Parkside Associates specializing in senior living services. His passion for the concept of continuing care retirement communities led him to Fairview Baptist Ministries for whom he developed and managed the building of Fairview Village, an assisted living facility in Downers Grove, Illinois. In June of 1991, he officially joined his business partner Steve Wright as a principal of Unicus, Inc., a continuing care retirement community project management firm. Their work and expertise benefitted close to 40 senior community projects including Chestnut Square at the Glen and became welcoming homes for seniors.

Rob was a member of both the Finance Committee and the Vestry of St. David’s Episcopal Church and a faithful usher for over 20 years.

Rob is survived by his wife of 28 years, Cathy; his son, Robert, wife Tomomi, and grandchildren Takanori, Toshinori, and Miyo of Brooklyn, New York; his daughter Kristen, of Portland, Maine; his son Andrew of Glenview, Illinois; his sister Rev. Carolyn Underwood Lambert of Kennebunk Maine; and his brother Larry and sister-in-law Deborah of North Granby, Connecticut. Rob was a beloved uncle to Christopher Lambert and Geoffrey Lambert of Denver, Colorado; Christopher Underwood and his wife, Ashley, of Granby, Connecticut; and Ashley Underwood of Farmington, Connecticut. Rob was predeceased by a brother, Richard Underwood, in 1985, who found both a mentor and role model in Rob. Rob is also survived by Ruth Fagerstrom Underwood, of Spring Hill, Florida, Fred’s beloved and surviving widow along with her family.

Memorial visitation was held Thursday, Jan. 29 at the N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home, 1240 Waukegan Road, Glenview, IL 60025. Memorial service will be held on Friday, January 30th at 11 a.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 2410 Glenview Rd, Glenview, IL 60025. Interment will be private. In lieu of floral arrangements, the family requests that donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163 or JourneyCare, 405 Lake Zurich Rd., Barrington, IL 60010. Funeral information 847-998-1020.

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