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USATT Remembers Robert Tretheway

By USATT | Aug. 29, 2017, 9:30 p.m. (ET)

Bob Tretheway Obituary (1948-2017)

 

Former National Program Director of US Table Tennis Association, born in Cairo, Egypt, raised in Kansas City, MO, and a longtime Colorado Springs resident passed away on August 16.  Survived by his partner Rosie Kilpatrick, a daughter Beth Petit (Jay), three sons, Robert Parker III, Ben, and Michael (Dawn), two brothers, Kent (Kop) and Dana (Glenny) and 6 grandchildren. 

 

Bob died of congestive heart failure, which he’d been suffering from for several years.  In 1985, Bob was instrumental in starting up USATT’s Resident Training Program, starting in September that year. This was primarily a junior program for the best USA players, where they’d live in a dormitory (“Building 83”) at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, go to school (East Middle School and Palmer High School), and train at the table tennis hall (“Building 65”).

Players included Sean O’Neill, Jimmy Butler, Todd Sweeris, Eric Owens, Randy Cohen, Brian Pace, Oscar Melvin, Sean Lonergan, Dhiren Narotam, Chi-Sun & Chi-Ming Chui, Chi Ngo, John Elwood, Clark Yeh, David Chun, Marta Zurowski, Tomika Ly, Kristy Reed, Sylvia Lee, Rocky Wang, Diana and Lisa Gee, Gene and Ardith Lonnon, Nan Li, Li Ai, Insook Bhushan and many dozens of others. Coaches, practice partners, and other staff at various times included Li Zhenshi, Li Zhang, Henan Li Ai, Liguo Ai, Cheng Yinghua, Jack Huang, Xu Huazhang, Rong Lillieroos, Ty Hoff, Mark Kennedy, Scott Preiss and Larry Hodges.

Bob was perhaps our most successful director at bringing in sponsorships, from Brother International to FMC to Ground Round. After his years with table tennis he brought his fundraising skills to Christmas Unlimited in Colorado Springs as their executive director. Bob also brought the 1992 North American  Olympic Trials and 1990 ACUI National Championships to the U.S. Olympic Training and had sell-out crowds.

Memorial Services will take place on Saturday, September 23 at 3:00pm Sunrise Methodist Church in Colorado Springs, CO.  (www.sunriseumc.com)

Here are some thoughts and prayers from a number of Bob’s dearest friends during his final days:

"I was with the USOC for 30 years and for much of that time Bob was the face of Table Tennis.  We respected the sport and its athletes because of the way he treated everyone and had this amazing passion for the sport.  He was a quality human being and was a pleasure to share a friendship with.  He made the day enjoyable and exciting.  He'll be missed."-- Bob Condron, Director of Media Services and Operations, US Olympic Committee 

"I worked with Bob many years ago when he headed USTTA and I oversaw national sports programming for Boys & Girls Club's of America. He was a great idea guy and a good friend. We coordinated a national tour of athletes and coach Scott Preiss that benefited and inspired 10s of thousands of kids. I heard of Bob's illness and was prompted to share my respect for him as a professional and to share the great good that grew from our work together." -- Tim Richardson, Senior Director, Program Services, Boys and Girls Clubs of America

"Like many others, I owe Bob a great deal for his support and inspiration over the years."--Richard McAfee 

"Bob Threathway was my first interaction with USTTA when I came to USA 1985. He helped me understand how table tennis works in USA.  He was the logic in the chaos for me."--Christian Lillieroos

"Please let him know I'm thinking about him and always appreciated his commitment and love of table tennis"-- Dennis Davis

"Thinking & praying for you at this time. Thank you for all you have done for the sport we love so much. I can see by the outpouring of message that your life has made a major impact on others. 🏓😍"--Dell Sweeris

"Bob,  thanks to all your hard work I was able to transition from a college student to a full time table tennis person.  It radically changed and bettered my life.  I even remember visiting your downtown Colorado office and seeing up close all your activities.  Thank you for all your support and the unique opportunities that you created for me and the rest of us table tennis people."--Ty Hoff

"Bob had an incredible talent for writing grants creating programs working and encouraging young people, liaison to the Olympic committee liaison to the ITTF, and most importantly of all for me, created a full-time table tennis positions for me at the Olympic center which led to meeting my wife Hong Yu of 28 years"--Scott Preiss

"Bob, you have done more for the sport than most people will ever know. It was the behind the scenes work that I noticed. You are inspirational and I am putting you in my prayers. Life has a cycle. I am glad I am in the one that contains you."--Terry Canup 

“Bob had a lifelong impact on an entire generation of table tennis players by his creation of the first USATT Resident Training Program.  As a Promoter, Director, Umpire, Coach and Player - Bob showed his passion for the sport to everyone he came in contact with.  USA Table Tennis lost a real champion with his recent passing.”  — Sean O'Neill

“Bob was one of the true doers in our sport, as well as one of the nicest. The RTP days will always hold great memories for many of us.”—Larry Hodges

"Bob had such an impact on our sport and the lives of us former RTPers.  I have so many fond memories of our time together.  Thanks for all you did for all of us who love the sport of table tennis!   Thinking and praying for you."--Todd Sweeris

"My entire family are so grateful to have you as our friend. You have been kind and supportive from the beginning. You are held in high esteem in our hearts."--Li Ai Elliott 

"Bob, My time at the RTP was something I will never ever forgot. I learned so much about life, love, friendship, and of course table tennis in that inaugural year. It truly changed my life and I am grateful to you for that opportunity. Thinking and praying for you Bob."--David Chun

"He acted like a second dad. He was such a great inspiration and supporter."—Diana Gee

 "My love and prayers go out to Bob and all of his family and friends. He was a wonderful guy. Did so much for people and table tennis. I remember so many fun times while I was at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Thank you Bob and we all love you. He will be with us and his family and friends forever." -- Randy Cohen

 
"@Bob Tretheway from the bottom of my heart i would like to thank you for giving me the opporunity to be apart of such a wonderful table tennis program the RTP @ the OTC...thanks for giving me opporunity too have such fond memories and experiences...it is because I truly truly know what cold weather feels like...it is because of I know what it feels like to run at top speed for 30 secs and damn near pass out because i've never experienced air so thin...it is because that i know what it feels like to be sun burnt and have skin peel on my forearms when thought thats not possible because im already dark enough lol...it is because you that i first realized that i really sucked at table tennis compared to the others...it is because of you i got to see the USOC send off the first US Olympian in 1988 who is none other than Mr. Sean O'Neill ...it is because of that I was able too experience a school that you could actual leave campus for lunch and you had the option of going back to class after lunch...well you it wasn't really optional, but it is because of you I know what it feels like to skip class lol...it is because you that i was able too make friends for life you included...it is because you that the sport that i still suck at, but still love immensely has grown in the US...thanks for being one the pioneers, thanks for all that you have done for the sport and thank you MY FRIEND for the memories I will cherish forever!!!"--Oscar Melvin
 
"Hey Bob. I want to thank you for making the decision to let me be at the OTC. Starting late I didn't have the level, but I had the work ethic and attitude. 
 
I have made an incredible career as a player and coach, and I know that my Arc as a man, athlete, and coach was turned at a steeper angle as a result of your decision.
 
You hold a special place in my heart. Sending a big hug my friend."--Brian Pace

"Sending prayers... Bob was very encouraging to me when I broke into the elite rankings, I have not forgotten that kindness."--Kerry Terrel
 
"Bob always has a special place in my heart while we trained at the USOTC in Colorado Springs. Please Scott give Bob a big hug from me, he's a great champ for us athletes!" Xoxoxo, Kim Gilbert