- About Us
Robert Arthur Repoley (Bob), of Burnsville, North Carolina, passed away at home early in the morning of September 16, 2018, at the age of 71. The cause was complications from a rare brain tumor. He held many jobs in his life, including in a steel mill, a cotton mill, as a house painter, and in later years, as a mentor, teacher, and self-published author of a series of nature-awareness books for children.
Bob was born on July 26, 1947 in West Haven, Connecticut to Amalia Amato Repoley and Orfino Edmund Repoley. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1969 and moved to Detroit, MI to serve as a VISTA volunteer following graduation. In Detroit he worked with inner city youth and became politically active in peace, justice, and labor organizing causes. It was in Detroit where he met Sheela Sehorn, who was also there as a VISTA volunteer. They married in 1977 in Concord, North Carolina. Their son, William Vanzetti Repoley, was born in 1978. The next year, they moved to Baltimore, MD where they both continued their political involvement. They had a daughter, Christina Amalia Repoley, in 1980. In 1983 they returned to North Carolina and lived in Charlotte for many years. There, Bob began his own house painting company, C&W Custom Painting and remained active in peace and justice organizing. After Bob and Sheela divorced in 1991, Bob continued to live in Charlotte and became involved in a variety of spiritual and nature-based practices, including trainings with Tom Brown’s Tracker School in New Jersey. He left North Carolina and spent a couple of years living in New Mexico, continuing his nature based training, but soon found his way to the mountains of Western North Carolina, which he gladly called home for the rest of his life. He lived in the communities of Bakersville and Penland before settling in Burnsville.
His final decade and a half were happy and busy. Until his illness, he never missed a performance or other significant event that featured one of this children or grandchildren, and offered quiet, thoughtful, and always funny advice and ruminations on those events. He helped start a prison meditation program for the state of North Carolina which continues today. He was also an avid bird watcher and was instrumental in reviving the Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Yancey County for the first time since WWII. He was known as “Nature Bob” to the children at the Montessori School where he taught nature classes. He was also part of a local meditation group, was an award winning horseshoe pitcher, phenomenal cook, and lover of life. He had a curious, open, fun-loving spirit, and helped everyone around him to become a better and more mindful person. He also enjoyed working in the Dig In Community Garden, or at least he tolerated it long enough to catch the eye of his life partner Laura Seelbach; after they began their happy relationship at the compost bin in 2011, he gladly left the weeding to others.
In 2016, he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and he and Laura spent the next year healing from the cancer, learning and developing natural remedies, and writing and sharing about their life experiences and the healing journey. Through it all, Laura was a steadfast, devoted partner. His cancer continued to be in full remission as the benign brain tumor discovered in May of 2017 and the consequences of the subsequent surgery changed and dominated the last year and a half of his life, and Laura’s.
Bob leaves his beloved partner Laura Seelbach, his son Willie Repoley and daughter-in-law Sarai Repoley of Asheville, daughter Christina Repoley and son-in-law Dean Leeper of Atlanta, grandchildren Kathryn and Bertie Repoley of Asheville and Harmon and Dela Leeper of Atlanta, his sister Mary Ann Ardolino and brother in law John Ardolino of West Haven, nieces and nephews, and an irreplaceable sense of humor, as well as many friends all over the country. He was preceded in death by his sister Nancy McOmber.
Bob’s body rests in the Edwards family cemetery on a beautiful hillside behind the home he shared with Laura. An intimate graveside service was held on September 19. A larger memorial to celebrate Bob’s life will take place on Saturday November 3rd, 2018 beginning at 9:30am at The Burnsville Town Center (6 South Main St in downtown Burnsville).
Bob was involved in and supported many organizations in his life. Gifts in Bob’s honor can be made to the Wilderness Awareness School (Atten. Warren), the Human Kindness Foundation, the Vermont Wilderness School (Atten. Sam), The Audubon Society, High Peaks Trail Association, Yancey County Hospice, the Immediate Theatre Project, Quaker Voluntary Service, or any other organization promoting peace, love, and care for our planet.
Yancey Funeral Services is assisting the Repoley family.