Robert E. Nobles

January 31, 1921 ~ October 4, 2021 (age 100)



Robert Everett Nobles, (Bob) age, 100, a life-long resident of Ithaca, NY died quietly at home of natural causes on Monday, October 4, 2021.   He was born on January 30, 1921, in Newfield, NY to Leo and Lula Knettles Nobles. He was predeceased by his wife of 66 years, Bette Ridley Nobles in 2009 and his son, John Robert Nobles in 2011.


Bob graduated from Ithaca High School in 1939 and in 1942, he enlisted in the Army, as a paratrooper. He was assigned to “C” Company of the 508th Parachute Regiment, part of the 82nd Airborne Division. His first months of basic training were in North Carolina, in preparation for more training in Nottingham, England. Before Bob  shipped out to England, he and Bette eloped in 1943 and said farewell to each other in the fall of 1943 at Grand Central Station in New York City. They did not see each other again until the summer of 1945, after the end of the war in Europe.


Bob parachuted into the Normandy region of France at 2 a.m. on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  The goal was to secure a crossroads and prevent German soldiers from reaching the Normandy beaches. The first soldier he came upon had forgotten the password. Instead, he said, “Don’t shoot, it’s Kokomo Indiana”, figuring that no German had ever heard of Kokomo. 


Bob was captured within a week by the Nazis, and transported by train to the Sudetenland, (now Czechoslovakia).  The Americans declared him missing in action and it was 3 months before his family got word that he was a prisoner of war in a German prison camp.  At the camp, he was required to work in a coal mine every day.  He walked an hour with the other American prisoners to the mine and back at the end of the day. In the evening, the prisoners had their one meal of the day: a bowl of thin soup with a crust of bread. In 11 months, Bob’s weight dropped from 160 to 120 pounds.

As the end of the war neared, the American and Russian Armies closed in and the Nazi prison guards started leaving the camp. Bob and another soldier escaped and were hidden by a sympathetic farmer. They made their way to Paris where the Americans put them into a hospital to be checked for injuries and to be fed. The American soldiers were transported home and on July 3,1945 Bob heard that Bette’s mother had died. He arrived in Ithaca one hour before the funeral.    


After the war, Bob and Bette built a house on Triphammer Road then moved to Falls Street in 1952. Bob joined the post office where he worked until 1976. During retirement, Bette and Bob enjoyed their many travels around the country and in Europe.  Many of the European trips were focused on Bob’s 508 Parachute Regiment reunions in France.


For 38 years, the Nobles enjoyed summers at the Cayuga Lake cottage they built on Honoco Road, near Aurora, NY. A month every winter was spent with their son, John, at his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Bob was on a bowling league into his 90s, was a member of the Fall Creek Fire Department, and the local VFW chapter for many years.


Bob is survived by his son, James (Jimmy) Nobles and his wife, Susan Bradley Nobles of Baldwinsville, NY, and their sons Brian Nobles of Fort Lauderdale, FL and Timothy Nobles, his wife, Elizabeth Stauffer Nobles of Baldwinsville, NY, and their children Tyler, Alec and Timmy. He is also survived by his daughter, Christine Nobles Heller and her husband, Dr. Marc Heller of Cooperstown NY, and their children Rachel Heller and her husband, Justin Duewel – Zahniser of Shepherdstown, WV and Samuel Heller and his wife, Zoe Kreft Heller of Denver, CO.

Also, he is survived by his sisters, Marion Nobles Howe of Lansing, NY, Lois Nobles Klatt of Lyndonville, NY as well as numerous nieces and nephews, who knew him as Uncle Bob, always up for a volleyball game into his 90s. Also surviving are his nieces on his wife Bette Ridley’s side: Susan Jones Watson of Las Vegas, NV, Miriam Jones Kimber of Las Vegas, NV and Barbara Jones Waugh of Prescott, AZ.  


He was predeceased by his parents, his son, John and his sisters, Cora Nobles Mackereth Stritzinger, and Helen Nobles King and by his brother Raymond Nobles.


Bob’s family extends their deepest gratitude to Patricia (Patty) Bangs for her wonderful attentive care and brilliant shepherding of Bob’s idiosyncrasies in the last 2 years of his life.   Patty’s care – often 7 days a week – allowed Bob to stay in his home until the end of his life, which was his wish.  


The family will honor Bob’s request for a formal military service, plaque, and burial at the Lakeview Cemetery in Ithaca.  Military protocol will require that the service be deferred until next spring, date to be announced. Bob’s ashes will be placed in the family cemetery plot along those of his wife, Bette and his son, John. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The American Red Cross.  The Red Cross assisted Bob after he left the German prison camp with no money and only the clothes he was wearing.

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Celebration of Life
October 15, 2022

2:00 PM
St. Pauls Methodist Church
402 N Aurora St,
Ithaca, NY 14850

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