WATERFORD- Robert Albion Whalen, 86, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on October 10th, 2017. Born on 125th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, in the Irish section of Harlem known as Vinegar Hill, Robert was the youngest child of Patrick Francis Whalen and Elizabeth Kenny Whalen.
Bob graduated from Good Shepherd Elementary School, and went on to attend La Salle Academy where he excelled in hurdles and basketball. Bob was awarded a basketball scholarship to Fairleigh Dickinson University where he played four years of varsity basketball, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business and administration. Bob then spent two years in the army where he was assigned to serve in Korea. Upon returning to the states, Bob attended Albany State College for Teachers, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and English.
Bob began his teaching career with his first position at Shaker High School, and in 1961 was named a Freedom Foundation Fellow for outstanding teaching in history. It was at Shaker that he met the love of his life, Judy Skocylas, although according to Bob, he had seen her once at Albany State, the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on descending the main staircase. He never saw her again until that fateful day that they were introduced by a mutual friend at Shaker. He won her over, and they went on to spend 54 years together as husband and wife.
He then continued his education earning a Master of Arts degree in History from Albany State College for Teachers, as well as a Master of Science degree in Education Administration from Siena College.
Bob then became the principal at Waterford Halfmoon High School, a position that he retained for 20 years until his retirement. After retiring from WHHS, Bob held a variety of jobs, but the one he enjoyed most was teaching Christian Marriage at La Salle Institute in Troy for six years.
Always a lover of travel and visiting new places, Bob went on to become a travel agent for Conway Hammond Travel, specializing in tours to Ireland, during which time he took over twenty five groups on tours to share his ancestral lands.
When not keeping busy with work, Bob found time to participate in activities that he loved. When his wife Judy revealed that she had always wanted to play the bagpipes, Bob encouraged her to do so, and ended up becoming the drum major for the Tara Hall Pipe Band from Troy, NY.
Bob and Judy also loved to travel, and Bob loved to plan trips for them to take, from the month long cross country trip in the family station wagon with the whole family in the early eighties, to trips for the two of them to such places as Germany, Greece, China, Russia, Italy, and of course Ireland among other places. One of the last trips he planned was a road trip through the south to Louisiana to allow Judy to pick up the last few states she had not visited. Of course there was also the annual snowbird trip to Myrtle Beach where they spent five months a year living by the ocean.
Bob was predeceased by his wife Judith Whalen, as well as by all of his siblings; William Whalen, Mary Tomeo, Helen Burr, Patrick F. Whalen Jr., Anthony Whalen, and Regina Trudell. He is survived by his children Daniel F. Whalen of Waterford, Robert E. Whalen of Corinth, and Katherine Garrity (Peter) of Nassau. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Philip J. Brendese Funeral Home, 133 Broad St., Waterford and at 9 a.m. at St. Mary of the Assumption Church, Waterford. Interment will follow in the Gerald BH Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, Schuylerville.
Relatives and friends may visit at the funeral home Thursday from 4-8 p.m.
Those who wish may make memorial contributions to La Salle Academy NYC in care of the funeral home office.