Robert Steele “Bob” Appleby, age 85, died peacefully and surrounded by his family from complications of pneumonia on January 27, 2018. A lifelong Delaware native, he was the son of Richard Morrison Appleby, Sr. and Pauline Steele Appleby.
Bob graduated from St. Andrew’s School in Middletown, DE followed by Cornell University, where he earned his civil engineering degree. After serving as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army in Korea, he returned to his favorite place in the world, New Castle, to begin his over 40 year career with George and Lynch, his family-owned heavy and highway construction company. In 2000, he was inducted into the First State Highway Hall of Fame.
For 27 years, Bob served on the board of the Municipal Services Commission in New Castle, most of those years as president. He also served as Board President of the New Castle Historical Society, the Historical Society of Delaware, and the Delaware Contractors Association.
Bob had a strong Christian faith and was a lifelong member of the New Castle Presbyterian Church. He served in many capacities from elder, clerk of session and chair of the finance committee to soup maker for “The Spirit of Christmas,” (a fundraiser for Friendship House).
Among the many events in his life, none seemed more important than vacationing with his family in Rehoboth Beach as well as on trips abroad. His love of travel took him to six of the seven continents. Throughout his life, Bob enjoyed racquet sports and golf as well as hunting on the Eastern Shore. An accomplished tennis player, he played in three national tennis tournaments and chaired the annual Delaware Hard Court Tournament.
His desire to leave the world a little better for his having lived in it provided a set of principles and standards by which his everyday actions were guided. Having a generous philanthropic nature, Bob contributed to many organizations in the community and was presented with The Lammot duPont Jr. Memorial Award for his outstanding and devoted service to the community through the American Red Cross in Delaware.
Bob is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joan Flinn Appleby; two daughters, Pamela Waxlax (Paul) of Hopkinton, MA, and Carolyn Bruce (Thomas) of Falls Church, VA; a son, Robert S. Appleby, Jr. of Minneapolis, MN; four grandchildren, Samuel and Andrew Waxlax and Owen and Ellen Bruce; a sister-in-law, Virginia L. Appleby and her children; nieces Deborah Appleby and Karen (Appleby) Antonio of Lewes, DE; a nephew Dr. Richard M. Appleby III of New Mexico. He was pre-deceased by a brother, Richard M. Appleby, Jr.
A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, February 3, at 11:00 a.m. at the New Castle Presbyterian Church, 25 East Second Street, New Castle, Delaware, 19720. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Bob’s memory to the New Castle Presbyterian Church or the New Castle Historical Society, 30 Market Street, New Castle, Delaware, 19720.
For online condolences, please visit