Robert Callaway Soaper, III, was born June 6, 1932, in Henderson, Kentucky. He departed this life on December 6, 2013.
He was a lifelong Episcopalian and congregant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Henderson, where he served for many years on the Vestry, including a term as Jr. Warden. He also was an usher, a faithful attendant to the church’s building and grounds, and a member of more than one search committee that called new rectors to the parish.
A graduate of the Kentucky Military Institute in Louisville, he also matriculated from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he was a member of the Kentucky Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
Bob proudly served his country in the United States Coast Guard, attending to lighthouses in the Northeast Atlantic along the coast of Maine. One of his most vivid memories was in September 1953 when he was on a Coast Guard light ship that only was 132 feet long and 35 feet wide, while enduring Hurricane Carol, a powerful storm that at one point was a Category 4 event.
Upon leaving the Coast Guard, Bob founded, owned, and operated Soaper Chemical Company, bringing him into contact with oil and natural gas producers from across the country. He was an active member of the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association and helped lead the Association for two terms as its President. Likewise, he was a member of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). During his affiliation with IPAA, he was active on the organization’s speakers’ bureau and was a tireless advocate of the industry, pressing for pro-industry public policy throughout state legislatures and the United States Congress.
Bob was a Member of the American Legion Worsham Post No. 40 in Henderson and served in the Post’s Honor Guard, where he dutifully performed formal military burial rights for veterans.
Bob was an avid reader of history, with a special interest in military history; a hunter, outdoorsman, and conservationist; and an ardent supporter of our military men and women. He helped to coordinate what now is the long-running Veterans Day Program at South Junior High School, bringing decorated military men and women from throughout the United States to speak to and interact with Henderson’s young people. Hendersonians see Bob’s respect for veterans and the Armed Forces each Memorial Day, when he would assist in placing the crosses in Central Park to acknowledge the military sacrifices of our community.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara Shaver Soaper of Henderson; his son, Robert Callaway Soaper, IV; his daughter, Susan Pringle Soaper Gaston and her husband, David William Gaston, of Williamsburg, Virginia, as well as two grandsons, John William Soaper Gaston and Henry Callaway Ellsworth Gaston, also of Williamsburg, Virginia. He also is survived by several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
A wonderful husband, father and friend to many in this community, he truly will be missed.
Memorial services will be at 1 p.m. Friday at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Father Richard Martindale will officiate. Private burial will be in Fernwood Cemetery with full military rites performed by American Legion Worsham Post No. 40.
There will be no visitation.
Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church St. Anne’s Guild or American Legion Worsham Post No. 40 Honor Guard.
Rudy-Rowland Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.