Cover photo for Robert E. Esper's Obituary
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1944 Robert 2022

Robert E. Esper

October 28, 1944 — May 2, 2022

Robert Edward Esper, a retired pharmacist with deep roots in the Worcester area, died peacefully May 2 at his home on the North Shore of Massachusetts. He was 77 and had recently been under hospice care after a series of cardiac complications.

Bob was soft-spoken by nature, but his words carried tremendous weight because he chose them carefully and with kindness. He emphasized “family first” in all his endeavors and placed great importance on positivity and encouragement when raising his three daughters and five grandsons.

The third oldest among six kids for Edward and Anna (Lanotte) Esper, Bob graduated from Worcester North High School in 1962. Soon after, he met the love of his life, Judy Blanchard, who had been one year behind him at the same school. They became Mr. and Mrs. Esper when they married in 1967, the same year Bob graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.

Working at Mayo’s Pharmacy in Holden in the 1970s, Bob not only had a knack for helping others, but he developed a keen business sense and eventually bought the pharmacy. This later allowed him the pleasure of having his three teenage daughters work alongside him in the store. Bob’s loyal customers knew that if they needed medicine in the middle of the night, they could call him at home in Auburn, and he would reliably get out of bed and drive to the store to fill their prescriptions. When Bob sold Mayo’s in 1992, he took pride in knowing that the store had been among the last of the family-run independent pharmacies in the Worcester area.

Bob served for nine years on Auburn’s zoning board of appeals, and later volunteered his time in a similar capacity when the Espers lived in Middleton.

Bob liked to play recreational ice hockey as a young man, but his true calling was the ocean. He became adept at scuba diving and passed along that passion to Judy and his three girls, and it wasn’t long before summer weekends and winter vacations in the 1980s were anchored around dive trips throughout New England, Florida and the Caribbean.

Over the years Bob bought a succession of three boats, and he christened all of them “Captain Crunch.” The name referred to a self-deprecating joke Bob liked to make about the inevitable scrapes and dings the craft would accumulate under his command. Bob acquired a license that allowed divers from his boat to hand-pick lobsters, sparking spirited lobster-catching contests while providing a generous seafood feast for anyone lucky enough to be invited for dinner.

Bob and Judy relocated to the North Shore at the start of the 21st Century to be closer to two of their grown daughters and boating opportunities in Gloucester. For about a decade Bob continued to work as a part-time pharmacist, and he devoted his spare time to his hobbies of coin collecting, American history, and travel.

As his grandsons grew, Bob retired and spent countless hours teaching the boys to fish and golf while also attending their sports games, beaming with pride at their athletic achievements. He turned the family basement into a table tennis arena, and the only thing that could halt the ultra-competitive, after-Sunday-dinner tournaments was when Judy would call downstairs that it was time for dessert.

Anyone who knew Bob was aware that his favorite holiday was Thanksgiving, when the extended Esper clan of 30 to 40 members would gather in Worcester. Bob’s own father had stressed the importance of always bringing the family together for that annual meal, and maintaining that tradition was so important to Bob that one year he even checked himself out of a hospital on Thanksgiving morning so as not to miss the celebration.

In addition to Judy, Bob is survived by three daughters: Jen Esper Blizard, her husband Jeff, and sons Sam, Ben and Jack, who live on the North Shore of Massachusetts; Dena Thornton and her husband Tim, also from the North Shore, and Lori Cormey, her husband Scott, and sons Charlie and Henry, of New Jersey.

Bob is survived by four siblings: Joanne Walsh of Florida, Carol Pickett and Cheryl Esper, both of Worcester, and Edward “Rusty” Esper of Texas. Bob was predeceased by an older brother, Allan Esper of Leominster. Several generations of nephews and nieces will also miss the kind words, entertaining stories, and pen-pal letters from “Uncle Bobby.”

It was at Bob’s request that private services were to be held prior to the publication of his obituary, with cremation to follow. MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St., Worcester was honored to have assisted the family with arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations in Bob’s honor be made to the non-profit organization Force Blue (forceblueteam.org), whose mission is to unite the community of special operations military veterans with the world of marine conservation for the betterment of both.

 


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