by Jenifer Ross
Life is chance, but there are no accidents.
No one welcomes being laid off; but most of the time, these challenging moments help us to discover new paths, and sometimes even new strengths within ourselves that we didn’t know were there – or perhaps just needed to be re-awakened. When Bob Levine showed up that morning for W@tercooler’s Unemployed Monday Program, which welcomed people in transition to spend the day for free, working remotely and connecting to other freelancers, we had no idea how profoundly all of our lives would be changed.
After spending a handful of Monday’s with us, Bob became an official member of W@tercooler in July of 2012. He was inspired and motivated with his own newly found mojo to launch a travel business that serviced everyone, but focused mainly on Little People (which, if you didn’t know Bob – he was), as well as seniors and people with special needs – all of whom often face unique challenges when traveling, staying at hotels, and renting cars.
Bob was a true master at crafting the perfect relaxing family getaway, cultural excursion, recreational adventure, or just coordinating one’s hotel and car for a business trip – and the shared space proved to be a perfect customer generator and referral machine. Travel coordination was both a passion and a gift for Bob. Changed plans, long calls on hold with customer service, and frustrated clients who missed connections because of weather never bothered him. For Bob, it was part of his job, and having happy customers made him happy, too.
As a Certified Accessible Travel Advocate, Bob made sure he was always up to date on the current trends, packages and options for his special needs travelers; and he was even featured in LPA Today (Little People of America) for his business, as well as in the local Tarrytown Patch at the time. He prided himself on knowing his industry, his market, and how to expertly get people from one place to another, in style, comfort, and of course, with humor.
Even though Bob’s membership at W@tercooler was the one-visit-per-month variety, it didn’t take Bob long to become family. He came to every member lunch (and there were many), most workshops, events and classes, and absolutely every off-site outing to the Philipse Manor Beach Club for a member BBQ, or to The Tapp for a post-work Happy Hour.
Not surprising, within a few months, Bob also became our go-to person to manage the front desk and run the space when I needed a break or took a vacation. He was an exemplary team player who took the role very seriously… sometimes even providing a play-by-play accounting of what happened while I was gone, including the exact time members picked up mail, who made coffee, and who made prints – but I knew when I was away that every rule would be followed, people would feel welcome, and he would treat the business as if his own: A rare quality to say the least.
But that was Bob – a rare and wonderful human who cared deeply about his friends, moved through life with humor and gratitude, and did his best to make us laugh. If you knew Bob, you knew his sense of humor. Puns. Puns. And more puns. His Facebook posts were a virtual stand-up routine guaranteed to produce a chuckle.
As I scrolled today through my own Facebook wall, and that of W@tercooler – where literally every other picture is of Bob (big smile) – gathering insights and harvesting memories to write this, I found a post from Passover 2012 in which I tagged Bob. It read, “In this new year may each of us be nourished with exactly what we need, and provide those both dear to us as well as strangers encouragement and support as we shape a better self and better world.”
Bob – you were a dear and wonderful friend to all of us at W@tercooler, and to those at the Music Hall where you volunteered, and to everyone who knew you in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow where you grew up and called home. We will miss you terribly. I hope that you will travel with us when the world opens up again, ushering us seamlessly through customs, clearing the lines at TSA pre-check, moving our bags to the front of the carousel, and being our protective angel on the wing when the flight gets bumpy.
Jenifer Ross has been a resident of Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow for over 20 years and was the founder and co-owner of W@tercooler, a shared workspace located in Tarrytown, New York.
A virtual memorial service to honor and celebrate Bob Levine took place on Saturday, May 23 at 3:00 p.m. Bob was loved dearly and will be profoundly missed by countless family members and friends. He will always be remembered for his playful sense of humor, incredible resilience, enduring kindness, and lifelong devotion to the Beatles and the Yankees. Bob was a beloved member of the Sleepy Hollow High School Class of 1988.
In a heartfelt message on Facebook, Jim Levine (Bob’s younger brother) wrote: “If you would like to honor Bob, we are sure he would appreciate donations or other support to the Tarrytown Music Hall, where he was a longtime volunteer usher, or Little People of America. And of course please listen to The Mavericks – there was perhaps no greater fan.” For anyone wishing to send remembrances of Bob to the Levine family, please email: email@example.com.