Robert Rummel

Robert Rummel

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Robert Leslie Rummel (Bob) went to be with Jesus and his dear wife Dorothy on April 8, 2024, at Navion of New Bern, NC, surrounded by family and loved ones. The Rummel family will receive friends from 12:30 to 2:00 pm on April 15, at Clements Funeral Home in Durham, followed by a funeral service at 2:00 pm, officiated by Rev. Dan Tilley of Guess Road Baptist Church. Interment will follow at Markham Memorial Gardens.

Mr. Rummel was born in Chico, CA, on November 27, 1927, to Leslie Otto and Eva Letha Payne Rummel. The family moved to Susanville, CA, where Bob spent his formative years. He camped, fished, hunted, worked on his parents’ berry farm, and attained rank of Eagle Scout. Early in WWII, he entered a local airfield’s navy training competition to build enemy model airplanes used for teaching purposes. The prize was learning to fly a “Piper Cub” airplane. Bob won and received his pilot’s license before age 16 and also worked there as a “grease monkey” after school.

Bob graduated high school in 1945 and was drafted into the U.S. Army near the end of the war. After basic training at Camp Crowder, MO, he was assigned to Ft. Monmouth, NJ, where he became a radio school instructor. At his final military base of Camp Gordon, GA, he agreed to a blind date. As a teenager, God had told Bob that he would “marry a Southern redhead,” and when his blind date, a redhead from South Carolina, walked in, Bob said, “Well, there she is.”

Dorothy Dalton Mathis and Robert Rummel were wed on February 12, 1949, the day after Bob received his military discharge. After a Niagara Falls honeymoon, the couple drove their 1936 Buick Limousine to Bob’s parents’ home in Susanville. Bob found the only job available, laying asphalt in the blistering summer sun. He later found employment in Livermore, CA, where he received training in the nuclear physics field.

At age 25, he contracted polio and was told by a doctor that he would never walk again. He proved the doctor wrong and credited his faith in God and prayers from everyone around him for his recovery.

Nuclear physics became Bob’s lifelong career, steering him into leadership roles at both Stanford University and Duke University. In 1966, the job at Duke relocated Bob and Dorothy, now with three children, to settle in Durham, NC, where Bob was supervisor of the tri-university underground nuclear laboratory. One of his major responsibilities was engineering safety, and he said he “was the end of the line for all things technical.”

Bob retired at 62, thus beginning a blessed 34-year “career” in retirement. He enjoyed playing Scrabble with Dorothy, photography, woodworking, painting, camping and traveling by motor home, and keeping detailed logs and maps of their adventures. Bob and Dorothy visited all fifty states in the United States, as well as traveling into Canada and Mexico. In their later years, Dorothy and Bob regularly “walked the mall” at Northgate, where they were friendly to everyone they met. They were frequently called “the lovebirds” by friends and strangers alike.

A loyal member of and deacon at Guess Road Baptist Church in Durham, Bob was part of the leadership of the church and also taught Sunday School for many years.

After Dorothy passed in 2018, Bob decided to move to New Bern, where he slowed down considerably but still listened to audio books, socialized with his caregivers and family, took drives in the country, and sat by the water in the sunshine.

Bob was preceded in death by wife of 69 years, Dorothy; his parents; and his brother, John Rummel, of Susanville, CA. He is survived by one son, Bruce L. Rummel of Charlotte, NC; two daughters, Robin R. Snyder and husband Charles of Durham, and Rose M. Rummel-Eury and husband Michael of New Bern, NC; four grandchildren, Rebecca Rummel-Ayling and husband Nate of Charlotte, Joshua Snyder and wife Elizabeth of Durham, Joy Snyder and husband Kyle Tush of Durham, and Ryan Rummel and wife Brandy of Palmer, AK; three great-grandchildren, Jack Henry Snyder, Malone Everett Ayling, and Simon Cleveland Snyder Tush; and numerous nieces, nephews, and friends.

Mr. Rummel’s family wishes to thank Dr. George Moore and Dr. Scott Sample of New Bern, and the kind, caring employees at Accommodating Healthcare, Navion Assisted Living of New Bern, CarolinaEast Medical Center, and Gentiva Hospice care. They also wish to especially thank caregivers Shauna Kelley from Accommodating Healthcare and private caregivers Ann Perry and Marty Hedgepeth. These amazing women enabled Bob to remain in his home until transitioning to Navion in late 2023.

Remembrances may be sent to the family at Memorials may be sent to the Durham Rescue Mission at P.O. Box 11858, Durham, N.C., 27703, or online at

Clements Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc., of Durham is assisting the Rummel family.

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc. in Durham. Online condolences may be sent to

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