Pastors' Memoirs

Robert Lee Consolvo, 1915 – 2008

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2008 Memoirs

 The Rev. Robert Lee Consolvo, a retired minister of The United Methodist Church, passed away May 2, 2008. He was born in Norfolk Nov. 27, 1915, to the late George B. and Lilla Harrison Consolvo. He graduated from Maury High School in 1935, enrolled in Randolph-Macon College and completed three years before joining the Navy in 1941, where he served throughout World War II.
 As a seaman on the USS Hornet-CV8, Robert witnessed the takeoff of Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, leading 16 B-25 medium bombers to bomb Tokyo and other nearby cities. He was on board this ship in the “Battle of Midway” in which four Japanese carriers were sunk, an action that turned the war around. Because of skills perfected as a youth swimming in the Elizabeth River, Robert was able to survive the sinking of the Hornet in the “Battle of Santa Cruz Island” Oct. 26, 1942, by swimming to one of its escort ships.
 After returning to the United States, he completed officer training school requirements at Northwestern University and became a commissioned officer. He served as the commanding officer of a coastal minesweeper, sweeping the approaches to the New York Harbor, then as skipper of the same type of vessel working out of Argentia, Newfoundland.
 Robert left the service and returned to Randolph-Macon in 1946 to complete his final year. Following graduation, he was employed as a caseworker in the welfare departments of Norfolk and Virginia Beach (then Princess Anne County) and from there became superintendent of the Sussex County Welfare Department. When the pastor of a local church became ill, Robert was asked if he would fill in until a new minister could be assigned at the fall conference. Before conference met, the church members asked Robert if he would resign his position with the welfare department and become their full-time pastor. The invitation reignited an earlier call to the ministry. Robert served the Stony Creek Church for five years while completing seminary work at Duke University. He later served churches in Portsmouth, Suffolk, McKenney, Isle of Wight County, Lynchburg, Wakefield and Virginia Beach. He participated as a board member of several agencies at both the district and conference levels and served several years as the director of summer camps for youth.
 Following retirement from the ministry, Robert gave generously of his time and talents wherever he was needed; many benefited from his efforts. He was so fondly remembered that even in retirement he was asked to officiate at weddings of many who attended his services as children. He was a wonderful pastor to his parishioners and will be greatly missed by his family and many friends.
— Betty Consolvo


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