Robert Bernard Mullen, 93, of Concord, passed away Friday, January 17, 2020. Robert was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on April 17, 1926, the son of the late Bernard and Nelli (Backinger) Mullen. He was a 1944 graduate of Central Catholic High School, Gannon University and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.
Immediately upon his high school graduation, Robert was sent to infantry basic training at Camp Blanding, Florida, to prepare for combat in the Pacific. That plan was interrupted by the Battle of the Bulge and he was soon on a troop transport ship, along with 15,000 other GIs, crossing the North Atlantic. Awaiting deployment at the replacement depot in Metz, France, he was reassigned to the 11th Armored Group and found himself riding in an armored half-track amidst several grizzled veterans, as they raced back to the Bastogne area. The 11th Armored would go on to help liberate Buchenwald and assist with the repatriation of its Displaced Persons. Although he seldom mentioned his wartime experiences, Robert was honored to receive two Bronze Battle Stars, Bronze Star and Good Conduct Medals, along with his campaign ribbons. Returning to the United States he spent two years convalescing at the Army’s Moore General Hospital in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
Soon he found himself at Gannon University where he was introduced, on a blind date, to his lifelong love and future wife of sixty – four years, Mary Kate Lacey. The two were married on November 7, 1953 at St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in Meadville. Pennsylvania.
From there Robert and Mary Kate began a life-long journey together which took them to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and, ultimately, Concord where they lived and raised their family for forty-seven happy and fun-filled years until Mary Kate’s passing in November 2017. Robert and Mary Kate were devoted to their six children, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild. They always made sure that their home was open and welcoming to all. In a true partnership, they shared and balanced the myriad of family tasks with great aplomb and humor. Robert was ever ready with helping hands, words of encouragement (often accompanied by a great cocktail) to whoever needed them.
Robert proudly worked for the National Park Service as its Director of Personnel Management for the Western Region of the United States until his retirement. He loved his country, its people, and its National Parks. He always encouraged his family to “do your best to leave a place better than you found it.”
Robert is survived by his children Kathleen (Mullen) Forsburg, son-in-law Russell Forsburg, Patrick Mullen, daughter- in-law Barbara (Carusa) Mullen, Paul Mullen, daughter-in-law Kath (Coyne) Mullen, Mark Mullen, daughter-in-law Diana (Arizpe) Mullen, Anne (Mullen) Calforda, son-in-law Thomas Calforda. Grandchildren Elizabeth (Forsburg) Pardi, Nicholas Forsburg, Danielle Mullen, Tayna (Mullen) Frame, John, Henry, and Isabelle Calforda, Emmet Mullen, and great grandson, Michael Pardi.
In addition to his parents and wife, Robert was preceded in death by his son, John Michael Mullen. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on February 20, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. in the Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery Chapel, 1965 Reliez Valley Rd, Lafayette, California, Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, presiding.
The family would like to express their appreciation to his caregivers, particularly Tisiola Tassini and her family, for the loving care Robert received while in their charge.