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1925 Robert 2022

Robert Viosca

October 26, 1925 — February 26, 2022

Robert Raymond Viosca "Bob" born 26 Oct. 1925 in Lakeview New Orleans, died 26 Feb. 2022 at his home in Mandeville Louisiana. On the way to bed, he collapsed suddenly in the arms of his son Randy.

He was the third child of Felix Viosca and Alice Baudean, and was the last of his family. His three siblings, parents, and wife preceded him: Randall Clement Viosca (1944 England WW II), Felicie “Fay” Rita Viosca Martin (2010 Mandeville LA), and Jerome Felix “Jerry” Viosca (2001 Simi Valley CA), mother Alice Baudean (1987 Mandeville), father Felix Viosca (1947 New Orleans), and Bob's wife Phyllis Freshwater (2001 Hamel MN). He is survived by sons: Randy Viosca (Cari Giroir) and Louis Viosca (Juliette Maxson Viosca), Granddaughter Kayla Sandelin (Dayne) and three great-grandchildren, adopted family friends Julie Hoff, Ron Latin, and Cyndee Jackson, nephews Danny Martin (Fay), and Justin Viosca (Jerry), nieces Tammie, Bonnie, Kim, and cousin and best friend Vic Viosca whose family adopted Bob when he retired to Mandeville.

Bob was 14 when he graduated Warren Easton high school in New Orleans. His mother Alice taught him how to cook her New Orleans French family recipes so he could make the family meals while they were working and he was at night school. During World War II he enlisted in the Army Air Core. In basic training he washed and warmed up aircraft in Denver. Just prior to shipping out to flight training he stumbled in a doorway in front of a doctor who diagnosed him with Rheumatic fever. He was quarantined for six months in a hospital bed where he used the time to memorize "The Rubáiyát" by Omar Khayyám, which lines he would recite at any appropriate moment (or not, depending on the wine), much to the chagrin of his wife. He called it his "Red Boat" philosophy.

After the war he attended Tulane University on the G.I. bill, and graduated 1950 as a Mechanical Engineer. He was accepted into Harvard Business School where he earned his MBA. During college he took an internship with Westinghouse where he, with a nearly unlimited expense budget, smoothed the ruffled feathers of worldwide executives in the power industry who were upset that their shipments of generators, transformers, turbines, and other equipment were reconsigned during the defense production act of 1950 for atomic projects.

After college he and some buddies sublet a factory loft apartment from an artist in Greenwich Village where he created his first oil painting "The Hangover - 1955." It was the beatnik age - and he loved the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. One can imagine he and his buddies standing around with martinis critiquing his masterpiece.

He took a job in marketing and manufacturing with Etna Bearing and Nuttel Gear in Pittsburgh where he designed the Moduline series of adaptable gear sets (still sold today).

Bob met the love of his life, Phyllis Freshwater, an aspiring opera singer and music student, in the laundry room of their Pittsburgh apartment building. She invited him over for lasagna, but she didn't know to precook the pasta, "and it came out like a concrete cinder block." He took her to his favorite Lebanese restaurant "Samrini's" where she had lamb for the first time. He proposed to her, and she refused. He proposed multiple times, and finally he did a full corporate presentation to her with charts, graphs, and bullet points, detailing how he would be supportive of her career, education, and family. She accepted. They married in 1957 in Pittsburgh.

With his New Orleans background, he loved to cook and taught Phyllis. Together they raised two boys and relocated to cities including Mansfield OH, Chicago, Munich Germany, and the Twin Cities (Edina). In the 1960’s Bob got his pilot’s license and bought a Cessna.  For business, Bob traveled a lot, and took along a portable watercolor set he made. In the 1970’s, when their sons were finishing up high school, they started Avion Travel agency, a family business Phyllis and Louis ran. Bob and Phyllis traveled all over the world. In 1978 he started Video Entertainment Inc. in Minneapolis, which he and Randy grew to seven stores. In 1980’s Bob and Phyllis bought a small farm in Hamel MN and raised and trained horses for dressage and fox hunting. Bob was in the Long Lake Hounds fox hunting club.

After Phillis died in 2001, Bob built a home in 2003 in Mandeville LA. He liked to say, “I’m returning to my ancestral breeding grounds.” He made seasonal “painting junkets” to Europe and other places. He continued to study art and took classes with well-known contemporaries. He joined the Lacombe Art League. Never one to “rest on my bay leaves”, in his 80’s he checked out the book “Save The Cat” from the Mandeville Library, and with Randy, they wrote three satiric comedy screenplays, the first which was presented to Paramount Studios. His lifetime painting body of work is some 500+ oil and watercolor paintings, and mixed media - many sold, given as gifts, or donated.

Many of his paintings, writings, and screenplays can be seen at his website: artbyviosca.com.

In the last year of his life, he often said to caregivers and friends, “You know, I’ve really lived a charmed life, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

He was a unique man, some say renaissance. He was slow to anger, playfully irreverent, thoughtful, and empathetic – always striving to understand others’ views, even those he disagreed with.

His wishes were to be cremated and have his ashes scattered in Lake Pontchartrain at his favorite fishing spots. He didn't want a solemn funeral but requested holding a crawfish boil for him at his home in his honor, and we'll all do that when the mudbugs come in season this spring. As you can imagine, his exact wording was something rather irreverent, something you might find in one of his screenplays, writings, or paintings. And that was his way.

He touched many family members and friends in his life from all over the world. His passing leaves a vacancy in our hearts impossible to fill.

His art website: www.artbyviosca.com
The Viosca Family genealogy and historic photo website: www.viosca.com
His memorial on FindAGrave:https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/237185341/robert-raymond-viosca
His entry on FamilySearch.org: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/G3PR-3SH

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