Robert McMullen passed away on February 19th, 2022, at the age of 74. He lived in the Medulla Community of Lakeland for over 56 years. He lived on the same dirt road the entire time, only moving from his parents’ house to a house next door. In the last weeks of his life, his close family surrounded him with an outpouring of love and support.
Bobby started working at the phosphate mines when he was 18 years old. He worked for IMC in the washer plant in 1966 and was drafted into the Army in 1967. During his service he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Combat Infantry Badge, a Purple Heart, an Army Commendation Medal, and Marksman (M14), (M16), 1st Class Gun (M60). When he returned home from Vietnam, he went back to work for IMC, but left in 1972 to fish commercially. He began working for Farmland in 1973, as a maintenance mechanic and then Mosaic when they bought Farmland. He was a hard worker, but also the first to pull a practical joke on someone. In his younger days he was a wicked handball opponent at break time. He made some great friends at work, and they continued to visit him long after retirement, even when his health started declining. They would meet him for lunch, come take him fishing, bring him fish, and just sit on his porch with him and tell stories.
Bobby was a devoted brother, a caring father, a mischievous grandfather, and a steadfast friend. He was great at giving people nicknames. You had to be careful what you did around him because a nickname could come out of nowhere. Once he “named” you, that was it. Your other name was forgotten, and you would forever be known by the name he assigned. He also was known by many names…. Bobby, Mr. Mac, Brother, Uncle Bobba, Pops, ‘ol Man, Papa, Paw Paw, Grandpa, Dad…and friend. He loved anything outdoors, but his favorite pastime was fishing. He wasn’t much of a sports fisherman. He was more of a “fill your freezer” kind, and he was very good at it. He could throw a cast net like it was an extension of his thoughts. There was a time he caught so many in a throw, he had to use his truck to pull the net in. Bobby could get a boat in a pit when it seemed impossible. Fly an air boat onto a trailer, and make it seem like magic. Catch more fish than you wanted to clean when nothing was biting. Vacations in the summers, when his kids were young, were two weeks spent in his favorite fishing spots. The first week was spent fishing to sell to the fish markets. And the second week was spent fishing for fun. He always made more on those vacations than he ever spent. At times he seemed larger than life, had a wealth of knowledge about random things, and he could do a little bit of everything.
His porch is a sacred site. It’s where you sat to solve all of yours and the world’s problems, plan future fishing trips or reminisce about past ones, get his advice on a new venture, pick his brain about how to do something, ask him for a favor, receive his sage advice about women or money, have a drink or a beer and just talk. His porch was where he “held court”. Many memories were made on that front porch and the best advice he could give would be, “It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much you keep.” His corner of the swing may be empty now, but his presence there will be felt by all that loved him.
Bobby was preceded in death by his parents, William L [Buck] and Julia Grace McMullen and his brother Billy McMullen. He is survived by his daughter Bobbie [Steve] Selva, his son Robert [Kelly] McMullen, his sister Janice [Dennis] Martin, eight grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022, from 10 to 11 a.m. with service to follow at 11 a.m. at Gentry Morrison Funeral Home, Southside Chapel, 1727 Bartow Road, Lakeland, FL 33801. Interment will take place at Lakeland Memorial Gardens, 2125 Bartow Road, Lakeland, FL 33801 in the Garden of Valor. Condolences may be sent to the family at Gentry-Morrison Funeral Homes.
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