Corporal Robert Lawrence Wolcott

Corporal Robert Lawrence Wolcott

GUILDERLAND — “I don’t think there are any gentler men than him,” said Linda M. Conklin Wolcott about her husband, Corporal Robert Lawrence Wolcott, who died on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. He was 56.

“As a kid, he would put birdseed in his hand and go lay down in the backyard, and the chickadees would come and eat out of his hand,” recalled his sister, Melody Wolcott.

Corporal Wolcott was a proud veteran of the United States Marine Corps, his family wrote in a tribute. He enlisted in 1980, two years after graduating from Guilderland High School, and served with the First Marine Division, HQ CO, HQ BN, as an infantry rifleman. He attained the rank of corporal in 1983.

His duty tours included Parris Island, South Carolina; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Lima Company, San Francisco, California; Cubi Point, the Philippines; Washington, D. C.; and Camp Pendleton, California. He was awarded a Marine Rifle Marksman Badge, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, a Humanitarian Service Medal, and a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged in 1984.

He loved the military, even though he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life after his return from duty, said his wife. Even at the end of his life, when he had survived prostate cancer and lived for three years with frontal-lobe dementia, “He would have gone back [into service with the Marines], if they would have had him,” his wife said.

Corporal Wolcott, who was known to his family as Bob, was the oldest of four children. He was born on Sept. 23, 1959 in Punta Gorda, Florida, where his parents — Lawrence Wolcott and Carolyn (née Hallenbeck) Wolcott — went, with all their belongings packed into a trailer, after their marriage. In Florida, Lawrence Wolcott learned the tile trade and the family survived a hurricane before moving back to Guilderland, where Lawrence and Carolyn had both grown up. “My parents couldn’t take the heat,” said Melody Wolcott.

After returning to Guilderland, they had three more children, living first near French’s Hollow and then building their own home on Spawn Road. More recently, Lawrence (“Larry”) Wolcott retrieved The Enterprise from its Amsterdam printer for 15 years, and was a tile setter for Altamont Tile, while Carolyn Wolcott was the baker for Mike’s Diner on Carman Road until she “finally passed her recipes on” at age 80, said Melody Wolcott.

Corporal Wolcott “wasn’t a big fan of school,” his sister said, except for industrial arts. He liked building things with his hands.

He studied criminal justice at Schenectady County Community College and worked first for Burns Security as a guard, and then began working as a car hauler and transporter for Allied; he was a member of the Teamsters Carhaul Division Local 264.

The moment that she met him, Mrs. Wolcott said, she knew that he was her soulmate, and he did too. They had 14 years together, and, his wife said, “We were perfect, we really were.”

He was happy and peaceful at the end of his life, Mrs. Wolcott said. She put food out for the birds, and made sure that he could always see them. “He would sit for hours, all day, and watch them,” she said.

He still knew her. The last night of his life, she said, they sat on the couch and held hands, and he said he loved her. Again, in bed, they turned to one another and said they loved each other. He died in his sleep.

His sister, Melody Wolcott, has a tape recording of Corporal Wolcott as a child, singing to his mother from outside her window as she lay in a hospital bed. The song is by Merle Haggard, and goes, “Somewhere between your heart and mine / There’s a window that I can’t see through / There’s a wall so high it reaches the sky / Somewhere between me and you.”

She may play the recording at his memorial service.

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Corporal Robert Lawrence Wolcott is survived by his parents, Lawrence Wolcott and Carolyn (née Hallenbeck) Wolcott of Guilderland; his wife, Linda M. Conklin Wolcott of Slingerlands; his adopted daughter, Triniti Conklin Wolcott of Slingerlands; his son, Joshua Robert Wolcott, and his daughter, Rebecca Wolcott, both of California; brother, Jim Wolcott of Guilderland and his wife, Lisa; sisters Barbara Davis of Guilderland and her husband, Paul; and Melody Wolcott of Schenectady and her life partner, Doug Schmid.

He is also survived by his nieces, Erin and Katherine Wolcott of Guilderland; nephews Brendon Andres of Guilderland and his daughter Cheyenne Andres; and Cory and Ryan Andres of Houston, Texas; stepsons Timothy George Jr. of Delmar and his life partner, Serina Barrera; Thomas Leister of Colonie and his life partner, Samantha Larson; and George Conklin of Lake George; sisters-in-law Elaine Conklin Schneider of North Carolina and Barbara Conklin Knapp of Germany; brothers-in-law George Conklin of Schenectady, Dennis Conklin of Walden, and Kenneth Conklin of St. Johnsville.

He is also survived by eight additional sisters- or brothers-in-law and nine grandchildren, and by his close friend, Carlos Barrera of Colonie, a World War II veteran who fought with the Marines at Iwo Jima.

The family wishes to give special thanks to Austin Hammond — fiancé of daughter Triniti Conklin — who, “with the help of 911, worked diligently to try to revive Bob.”

A funeral service will be held on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016 at 2 p.m. at Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, 200 Duell Rd., Schuylerville, New York 12871. The Patriot Guard Riders will provide an escort, and the Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard Association will perform military funeral honors. Friends and family are welcome.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at 2 p.m at 30 Olympian Dr., Slingerlands, New York. The American Legion will present a final salute and prayer. Friends and family are welcome.

Memorial donations may be made to the Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard Association, 200 Duell Road, Schuylerville, New York 12871.

—Elizabeth Floyd Mair 

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