The Rev. Robert Gumbert, who spent four decades as a pastor at 20 different Methodist churches in Western Pennsylvania, and who also served as full-time chaplain at the now-closed Braddock Hospital, died March 23 at his son's home in Virginia.
Rev. Gumbert, 84, of Monroeville, died of complications following a fall, said his son, Clyde Gumbert of Hampton, Va.
Mr. Gumbert was born and raised in East McKeesport and joined the Army in 1946 after graduating from East McKeesport High School. Stationed in Tokyo during the occupation of Japan after World War II, he was a trombonist for the GHQ band that played for visiting dignitaries.
After his discharge from the Army, Mr. Gumbert returned to Pittsburgh, where he studied music at Duquesne University. He then enrolled at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where he earned a bachelor's degree in theology. He then received a master's degree in divinity at Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, N.J.
During his first assignment to three churches in Bradford County in northeastern Pennsylvania, he met the former Ellen Darrow, to whom he was married for 59 years.
In the mid-1950s he was assigned to the Murrysville Methodist Church and in the years afterward served at congregations as far south as Greene County and as far north as McKean County.
While a pastor in the 1980s at two churches in Braddock, Rev. Gumbert regularly visited patients at Braddock Hospital.
"That was one of the things he especially took interest in," said his son. "He was very good at visiting folks and when he was [based] at a church in Farrell, Pa., he had organized volunteers to help him ... sort of a chaplaincy, and he continued that in Braddock."
When Braddock Hospital developed a cancer treatment center, officials there asked Rev. Gumbert to serve as its full-time chaplain.
But as the hospital's finances suffered following the collapse of the steel industry, Rev. Gumbert's job was eliminated "and he went back to being a pastor," said his son.
Braddock Hospital later merged with UPMC, then closed in 2010.
After retiring from pastoral duties in the early 1990s, he and his wife put down roots in Monroeville.
He filled his time with fishing and his longtime passion of building and flying radio-controlled model airplanes. He was active in several model airplane clubs, including the Murrysville Area Soaring Society and the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
In addition to his wife and son, survivors include two daughters, Elaine Legner of Graymont, Ill., and Carol Gumbert of Waterford, Mich.; two sisters, Evelyn Bevan of Hickory, N.C., and Audrey Markferding of Bath, Ohio; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday in Monroeville United Methodist Church, 219 Center Road.
Donations may be made to the church or to the Alzheimer's Foundation.
Joyce Gannon: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1580.