Death of Longtime Kaiserman JCC Employee Leaves Void

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Bob Bentley started working at  Kaiserman in 1977, a year in which Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as president, Apple Computer incorporated, gas cost 65 cents per gallon and Menachem Begin became Israel’s sixth prime minister.

It was clear right away on Sunday morning, April 10, that something was wrong at the Kaiserman JCC.
Early-arriving members wondered why the building remained locked well past the usual 8 a.m. opening.
Staffers were dispatched to the home of Bob Bentley — better known as “Mr. Bob” — who normally opened the building and manned the front desk. When nobody answered and they saw mail piled up outside, they called 911.
Mr. Bob was found deceased in his bed. He was a few days shy of 85.
The news quickly filtered out to staff members and members alike, all of whom were saddened by the loss of an institution.
“I knew Bob since he started working at the ‘J,’” said longtime member Joe Johnston. “He was always a professional and did his job with a genuineness and caring that was recognized by all who knew him. He will undoubtedly be missed by all of us who crossed his path.”
Bentley started working at  Kaiserman in 1977, a year in which Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as president, Apple Computer incorporated, gas cost 65 cents per gallon and Menachem Begin became Israel’s sixth prime minister.
He began in the maintenance department, but most people remember him from his time at the front desk.
“Bob was always the face of the JCC, and he greeted you with a warm and friendly smile,” said Adam Sherman, a former Kaiserman president. “He made the JCC seem like a special place.”
Although Bentley knew everyone and was always pleasant, he never revealed much about himself or his personal life.
Bentley was a big Phillies fan, always tuning the lobby television each summer to games. At other times, he watched Law & Order reruns, WWE programs, black-and-white westerns and women’s tennis, being a fan of Serena and Venus Williams.
Former Kaiserman employee Lois Shander, who retired in January after 40 years, perhaps knew Bentley as well as anyone. She socialized with him outside work, as he attended several of her family functions and was friendly with her children.
“He was a ladies’ man,” she said. “He liked the ladies and they liked him.”
Marti Berk, Kaiserman’s membership and marketing director, recalled that Mr. Bob volunteered to work every holiday.
“He said, ‘I want to spend it with my family,’” Berk said, adding that staffers and members repaid the favor. “Every single person in the place cared for him.”
Bentley didn’t drive, so he had to take three buses to get to Kaiserman from his Wynnefield home. Often, staff or members would drive him to and from work. And everyone saved food for him, particularly chocolate and doughnuts.
“The man lived for coffee,” said Byron Fersner, an administrative assistant at Kaiserman. “He had a sweet tooth, too.”
Jernell Mapp, a personal trainer at Kaiserman, dedicated her group exercise classes last week to Bentley.
Others remembered the influence Bentley had on them.
“He taught me the true meaning of being on time and hard work just by watching him and seeing how seriously he took his job,” member Donny Anderson said. “The world needs more people like him. R.I.P. Mr. Bob.”
“Though he was a man of few words, he spoke to me,” member Marquis Baker said. “I will miss his small talk and honesty.”
Berk said a memorial is being planned for Bentley, and the JCC Kaiserman is accepting donations in his name here.
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0797

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