January 05, 1926 - June 05, 2019
ITHACA - Robert "Bob" Earle, 93, passed away as the dawn was breaking on Wednesday June 5, following a
short illness but long and adventure-filled life with Marion, his wife of 71 years (“my first wife,” as Bob
liked to introduce her). His family thanks the doctors and staff at Cayuga Hematology Oncology
Associates, Longview, and Hospicare for their loving and compassionate care.
He was predeceased by his parents, Arthur and Olga, three sisters and one brother. In addition to
Marion, survivors include children Robert Brian (Susan), Mark (Lee), Thomas (Marcia), and Mary Maley
(Dave); grandchildren Jane (Mark) Buckley; Matthew, Nathan (Robin), and Ashley Earle; David and
Michael Earle; and Michael (Vanessa), Kevin (Joanna Alario), Brian (Madi), and Laurel Maley; and 5
Bob was born in Baldwin, New York, and growing up on the South Shore of Long Island he began a
lifelong affinity with being on the water. He entered the U.S. Navy at 17, as a radioman during World
War II and found himself assigned to the first Joint Assault Signal Company (JASCO), attached to the 4th
Marine Division, where he took part in the Battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Like most men of his
generation, he didn’t talk often about his war experiences, but they made an indelible mark on him.
After leaving the service he moved to upstate New York and attended Utica College, then a part of
Syracuse University. While still a student, Bob began his professional broadcasting career in 1946 with
radio station WIBX. After graduating, he became an editor-writer at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y.
Later he was named general manager of radio station WLFH in nearby Little Falls. He moved to the still
new medium of television as an announcer and newscaster for WKTV in Utica, where he helped mentor
another young broadcaster by the name of Dick Clark.
In 1953, Bob followed Marion’s brother Mike Hanna to Ithaca, to work at radio station WHCU and join
the faculty as chairman of the Department of Radio and Television at Ithaca College. During his time at
the college, he expanded the broadcasting program and oversaw the building of the first television
studios. WICB-TV (now ICTV) was established in 1958 as the nation’s first student-run television station.
Bob left the college in 1959 to join General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center in Ithaca as a
Specialist in Communications and Community Programs. He was responsible for editing the daily
employee newsletter and the bi-monthly magazine “Centerpiece,” and directing the center’s press,
radio, and television relations.
In 1962, he learned that the G.E. College Bowl television show was looking for a successor to host Allen
Ludden. Bob used the broadcast facilities at Ithaca College to put together an audition tape, taking a
copy of the show and editing himself in asking the questions. His professorial demeanor and golden
voice impressed network executives, and he would go on to moderate the quiz show until it went off the
air in 1970. In 1963 the show won an Emmy award. Bob’s voice could be heard on television
commercials throughout the 1970s, from Mercury Cougar automobiles (“At the sign of the cat”) to
Arrow shirts to Liberty Mutual Insurance. He later joined the Tompkins County Trust Company as Vice
President of Marketing. Bob highly valued public service, serving with a number of local organizations in
Ithaca, including the Board of Education and Board of Fire Commissioners.
While he made money with his voice, he made memories with his hands. Playing banjo in his son Brian’s
jazz band. Tinkering in his workshop and creating his Dancing Dan dolls. And most of all, spending
countless hours restoring his wooden boat, the Marion H. On sunset cruises with his family on Cayuga
Lake, he would often cast his eyes on the warmly lit sky and proclaim, “Way to go, God!” The family will
hold a private service during a summer sunset on the lake.
Donations in Bob's memory may be made to Hospicare, 172 East King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, www.hospicare.org.