Col Robert Barmettler Died in 2012
I dealt with Col Barmettler after the death of his wife, Jeanne Shaffer, to publish her organ piece, Partita on Schmücke dich. He asked for no royalties and hoped only that I would publish her music and make it available to organists. I did in fact send him royalties for years, but I lost track of him and his assistant. I now have the reason. He died back in 2012 but my arrangement with him was “word of mouth” and there was no record for an estate administrator to find. My payments to him were not returned but neither were they deposited. His phone was not answered and then disconnected. So, I waited for news, even after his wife’s, Jeanne Shaffer, piece continued to sell. I now have the obituary to offer you. He was an intensely supportive husband who believed in the quality of his wife’s music. Would all spouses be so encouraging.
Barmettler, Robert Stephen died peacefully at home on Sunday, December 16, 2012 after a long life lived intensely and well. A secular memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 12 at the Octagon Theatre at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
Born 25 April 1924, in Stans, Switzerland, Robert immigrated to America with his family in 1930. He quickly added English to the French and German he already knew, excelled in sports and theatrical productions at school and entered the U.S. Army in 1942, where he served in the European Theater of Operations during WW2. After the war, he graduated from San Jose State University in 1949 and joined the U.S. Air Force, where he trained to be a pilot and later a navigator. He served with distinction in many locations including most of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, India and Vietnam where he earned both Bronze and Silver Stars for valor. In addition to flying, he was a squadron commander at the Air Force Academy and an administrator at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB. He retired in 1970 as a lieutenant colonel and began a second career as a professor of English and Drama at Huntingdon College. During his career, he earned a masters degree and eventually a PhD.
Robert is best known in Montgomery for creating the Dungeon Theatre on the campus of Huntingdon College and teaching there for 18 years; supporting Alabama Shakespeare Festival both as an actor and patron; performing with and supporting the Montgomery Civic Ballet; establishing the Montgomery School of Fine Arts; teaching speech at Alabama State University for 10 years; performing for many summers as Old Tom in the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony”; and for collaborating and writing with Dr. Jeanne E. Shaffer a number of musical stage plays. After leaving Huntingdon, he married Jeanne Shaffer, and they traveled throughout the US performing in regional music theatre before returning to Montgomery permanently.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two brothers, a sister and his second wife. He is survived by two sisters: Hildegard Barmettler Graves and Johanna Barmettler Black; Babette Barmettler and Heidi Barmettler Eldred, his daughters with Caroline Barmettler; and, four granddaughters: Elizabeth, Virginia, Margaret and Anne Eldred. He is also survived by the children of Jeanne Shaffer: Jeannette Sowman, Madolyn Griffin, Beverly Shaffer, Larry Shaffer and Malinda Shaffer-Farrington; and, nine step-grandchildren.
Anyone wishing to speak at the memorial service should contact Babette Barmettler 334-462-7748. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Alabama Shakespeare Festival or the arts education fund of the donor’s choice in his honor.
Published in the Montgomery Advertiser on Jan. 6, 2013