Robert Raymond Carey, age 71, of Harriman, Tennessee, passed away on August 25, 2021, after a brief illness. Rob was born in Nassau, Bahamas, to Robert and Gloria Carey on March 3, 1950. He and his siblings were “diplomat brats,” spending parts of their childhood in Paraguay, Venezuela, Belgium, Norway, and other far-off places. Rob and his younger brother Drew attended high school at St. Augustine’s in Ramsgate, England, where they were known to teachers and classmates alike as “Carey major” and “Carey minor,” respectively. The headmaster dubbed Carey major “a leader… among those who would play the fool.” Rob was inordinately proud of this early documentation of his tendency towards mischief… a lifelong trait, as all who knew him well can attest.
Rob received a Bachelor of Science from Notre Dame University in 1971. His years in South Bend were happy ones, and he would remain a devoted supporter of his alma mater – and its storied football team (Go Irish!) – all his life. During his junior year, while studying abroad in Angers, France, he met a co-ed named Jacqueline, with whom he would eventually have three daughters. He also formed friendships that remained a source of joy and support for the next fifty years. All his life he continued to fill his passport with stamps, spending time in England and Ireland, India, Germany, Costa Rica, and Belize. During the past several years, Amsterdam in the Netherlands was his favorite foreign port, and he visited annually, accompanied by several of his dearest friends.
Rob’s friendliness towards all he met was legendary. Perhaps a skill learned of necessity during his childhood travels, Rob could talk easily with anyone and everyone. His curiosity about people – where they were from, what they did for a living, whether they had children – often led him to long chats with those he encountered – restaurant servers, flight attendants, hotel desk clerks, doctors, barbers, piano teachers, contractors, mechanics, etc. Remarkably, Rob would store away details and could call them up again whenever he crossed paths with someone he’d chatted up, even if it was years later.
Rob’s curiosity wasn’t focused only on people. He was a polymath who cultivated knowledge about a wide range of subjects, including math, science, history, literature, film, music, art, and sports, especially football. He could rhapsodize with knowledge and enthusiasm about the latest breakthroughs in particle physics, the elegance of a mathematical equation, the guitar solo in a Dire Straits song, a movement in a Beethoven symphony, or a particularly brilliant play in a Notre Dame football game (Go Irish!).
Rob doted on his three daughters – Lisa, Andrea, and Colleen – and his four step-children – Josh, Audra, Manon, and Paishann. He loved to list off their achievements to anyone who would listen. If he sometimes took a little “creative license” in describing their accomplishments, it was presumably clear to his audience that he was simply too proud of his kids to confine himself strictly to the record. As the years went on, he became an affectionate father-in-law to several sons – Lyn, Gene, David, Abel, and Sean – and a daughter, Ore. He took great delight in spoiling his grandchildren – Dylan, CD, Vincent, Rocco, Francesca, Regina, Delilah, Madison, Riley, Josh, Jack, and Zelda – and his grandkids will cherish their memories of fishing off the dock, chasing fireflies, tubing, swimming, and lighting off fireworks at his lovely home on the shores of Watts Bar Lake.
Rob was an entrepreneur, and after several years of experience in the aluminum recycling industry, he opened his own company, Metal Conversions Ltd., in Mansfield, Ohio. With the help of his trusted business partners and loyal employees, Rob built Metal Conversions into a thriving and innovative company that has continued to prosper since Rob’s retirement several years ago. Rob was proud of Metal Conversions, and as someone who was lucky enough to achieve many of his dreams, he loved nothing more than helping others do the same. His success at Metal Conversions enabled him to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of many, sometimes with capital, sometimes with advice, sometimes with both.
Rob is predeceased by his parents, Robert Vincent Carey and Gloria Elizabeth Walde Carey; his sister, Mary Elizabeth Klaiber; and his nephew, Martin Klaiber. He is survived by his brother Drew Carey of Knoxville, TN; his sister Ginger Carey of Fort Meyers, FL; his brother-in-law Wolf Klaiber of Ocoee, FL; his nephews Sean (Elena) Augustine of Miami, FL and Justin (Ilana) Levy of Portland, OR; his nieces Victoria (Mark) Cherpes of Vienna, VA, Alice Daniel of Knoxville, TN, and Patty Carey of Vienna, Austria; several much-loved grand-nieces and grand-nephews; and the children, stepchildren, in-laws, and grandchildren named above. He is also survived by many treasured friends, including Adam and Stephanie Barnes, Fr. David Carr, Randy Collins, John Dzurak, Bruce Heimann, Bill Lowry, Jon Markle, Stacey Moore, David Quint, Carl Roark, Steve Senser, and so many others whose names are omitted due only to limitations on print space!
When it is safer to do so, the family will hold a memorial service in Harriman and a celebration of life during a future football weekend at Notre Dame (Go Irish!).
We who loved Rob are bereft. We will miss him forever, but we will be comforted by our memories of this remarkable father, grandfather, brother, friend, entrepreneur, traveler, and prankster for the rest of our lives. May his memory be a blessing.