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Robert R. Protzman

Company A-2

29 Aug 1939 - 16 Mar 2016

Place of Death: Ft. Worth, TX

Interment: Greenwood Cemetery, Fort Worth, TX

It is with great regret and sorrow that we must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Bob Protzman, on March 16, 2016, in Ft. Worth, TX, after a short but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Bob was predeceased by his wife, Loree.  He is survived by his daughter, Paige Elphingstone and her husband, Scott; his son, Scott Protzman and his wife, Tresa; and grandchildren, Will Elphingstone, Reed Elphingstone, Cameron Protzman, and Cole Protzman. 

A Memorial Service will be held at 1 PM on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the 1st United Methodist Church of Ft. Worth, 800 W. 5th Street, Ft. Worth, TX  76102. 

Burial is private at Greenwood Cemetery in Fort Worth. 

Condolences may be sent to Paige Elphingstone at 2833 Rosedale Avenue, Dallas, TX  75205-1530. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Bob's memory be sent to the John Peter Smith Foundation, 1223 South Main Street, Fort Worth, TX  76104

Well done, Bob.  Be thou at peace.


Class Memorial Pages\A-2 Bob Protzman.pdf


Taps Memorial Article:

Robert R. Protzman  1961

Cullum No. 23458-1961 | March 16, 2016 | Died in Fort Worth, TX
Interred in Greenwood Memorial Park, Fort Worth, TX

Robert Reavis “Bob” Protzman was born in Paola, KS, the son of Robert A. and Jessie Gertrude Protzman. After growing up in Kansas, Bob came to West Point a bright, 17-year student straight from Paola High School, where he had left behind an exemplary record of scholastic and athletic achievement.

At West Point, besides singing in the Cadet Chapel Choir and Glee Club, earning a major “A” in wrestling and performing as a member of the Dialectical Society, Bob contributed to the robust life of Company A-2. He had a yen for mischief, a sure sense of friendship, and an easy-going spirit of generosity that led him to help those battling academics. He seemed equally gifted with the Tactical Department, as demonstrated by one particular incident. Bob Cain, a companymate, tells of a weekend in White Plains, NY when heavy snow, followed by bright clear skies, led the two of them astray. Returning to West Point they chose the east side of the river instead of their usual 9W route. Only the “magnificent view of West Point across the Hudson,” alerted them to their ineptitude. Mountains of snow had caused them to miss their turn onto the Bear Mountain Bridge. Arriving quite late to formation, they feared confinement past graduation, but their b-aches were so witty and their contrition so acute that they suffered only seven demerits each.

Despite Bob’s considerable success as a cadet and the added good fortune of having Loree Oyster, the love of his life from Paola, living close to the Academy, he was tempted to leave. We know from his entry in our 50th Reunion Yearbook that late yearling year he “seriously contemplated resignation” to follow a different calling but decided it was “harder to go back to the Kansas farm community as a quitter than to stay.” He wrote, “Staying remains one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Following graduation in 1961, and his subsequent marriage to Loree, the Air Defense Artillery beckoned, calling him to a Nike Hercules site near Fort Worth, TX. But in 1965, that other calling prevailed, and he temporarily left active duty for medical school—never looking back.

Bob graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1968 and returned to the Army. He completed his internship at Tripler General Hospital, Honolulu, HI in 1969 and then served at Reynolds Army Hospital, Fort Sill, OK until 1970. He began an orthopedic residency at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver, CO, serving there until 1973. That year, he returned to West Point where he developed a keen interest in sports medicine, serving the larger community as surgeon and the Black Knights as team doctor. During those years, while introducing their growing children, Paige and Scott, to the pleasures of life on the Hudson, Bob and Loree left their distinctive marks on the military community.

Following their departure from West Point in 1978, the Protzmans moved near Washington, DC, where Bob completed a Hand Fellowship at Walter Reed Army Hospital and Johns Hopkins University. He contributed widely to professional journals, including two lead articles in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, and he went on to complete his final military tour at Ireland Army Hospital, Fort Knox, KY.

Bob retired from the Army in 1982 as a colonel, and together with Loree moved to Fort Worth, where he became the director of the Orthopedic Residency Program at John Peter Smith Hospital (JPS). He also started a private practice at the same time in which Loree played a significant role until her untimely death in 1995. Fueled by his passion for teaching and his love of the medical profession, Bob continued with his practice and the residency program until he retired in 2012. During those 30 years in Texas, he created a living legacy as both surgeon and teacher.

Dr. Walter Lowe, one of Bob’s first residents, now a chaired professor at a major teaching hospital, noted that he is “still the most comprehensive orthopedic surgeon clinically and from an educational perspective I have ever encountered or ever will encounter.” Dr. Russell Wagner, on staff with Bob and now the director of the residency program at JPS, recalled Bob’s toughness, his willingness to take on the hardest cases, and his joyful approach to work. “He had a great dry sense of humor,” Wagner says. “He lightened our spirits, he made us laugh, he put things in perspective. He cared greatly, about the students, about patients, about doing the right thing.” To Wagner, and to many others who worked with Bob, he was a “great man” who set the bar high, inspiring all “to live up to his standards.” He “made us better.”

All of us will remember Bob’s stellar accomplishments, his candor, wit, and zest for life. But we can never remember him without also remembering Loree. It is impossible to imagine one without the other. She gave Bob and their children the greatest of gifts, protected time and loving encouragement to follow their own stars. Together she and Bob left Paige, Scott, their spouses, and their children a marriage to cherish and a union to emulate. Their warm and loving home enriched our lives with laughter and friendship and brought joy to the professions they both served.

— Class of 1961 and Family