Robert Paul Oakley

Published 5:08 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Cambridge, NY– Robert Paul Oakley died at The Pines Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Glens Falls, New York on March 12, 2023. He was 80 years old. His death was the result of a stroke he suffered three weeks prior.

Bob was born on January 9, 1943, in Jersey City, New Jersey to Alfred Oakley and Grace (Brittin) Oakley. He was the third of four siblings. The family moved to Tryon, North Carolina in 1954. Inspired by Russia’s launch of Sputnik and the dawn of the space age, Bob built experimental rockets in high school. At the age of 17, Bob enlisted in the US Navy, working in the weather forecasting division on board the USS Northampton. He proudly served as a Navy Honor Guard with occasional duty at the White House during the Kennedy Administration.

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After finishing his term in the Navy, Bob lived in Norfolk, VA, in Cambridge (MA), and Schenectady, NY before settling in the Cambridge, NY area. In this transitional period, Bob tried his hand in the arts, which became the focus of his life’s work. Across the years, Bob worked in the fields of reproduction antique furniture (notably Windsor chairs), furniture restoration, hanging mobile sculptures, and photography.

Bob met the love of his life, Molly (Sunderlin) Oakley in 1969 in Boston, Massachusetts. After their marriage in 1972, they lived in Salem, NY, Jackson, NY, before settling into Shushan, NY where they spent most of their married life. Molly’s death in 2004 was a blow from which Bob never fully recovered.

Reading books (notably biographies, history, modern fiction) was one of Bob’s passions. He also loved to sail, ride his bicycle, glide down the Battenkill River in a kayak or inner tube, play croquet and ping pong, and fly model planes. Bob and Molly with other members of the community contributed to the founding of the Valley Artisans Market in Cambridge, NY and the Georgi Museum in Shushan, NY.

One of Bob’s endearing quirks was the belief that objects can be more useful if they are cut in half. He cut his bicycle in half for ease of transport and then reassembled it for use in Paris. He cut a boat in half and would bolt it together upon arrival at local rivers. He cut a ping pong table down to size so he could play in his dining room.

Bob suffered serious health issues in recent years. He had just learned to walk again before he entered the Cambridge Assisted Living Residence in Cambridge, New York. Thanks to the excellent care he received at the Residence, Bob began to walk routinely to his home a mile round trip. He gained strength and confidence and intended to move back into his home this spring.

Bob is survived by his sister Lorraine Edwards, his brother John Oakley and spouse, Janet McGhee, his brother Tom Oakley and spouse, Char Solomon, his brother-in-law William Sunderlin, and cousins Beth Hanson, Peter Brittin, Michael Brittin, and Christopher Brittin.

At a time to be determined, there will be a private family gathering to celebrate Bob’s life in North Carolina.

To sign the online guestbook or share a memory, please visit

Arrangements are with the Ackley, Ross & Gariepy Funeral Home in Cambridge.

Ackley, Ross, & Gariepy Funeral Home
Cambridge, NY