Robert Francis “Bob” Varley was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Robert Francis Varley, Sr. and Xelma Mullinax Varley, both veterans of World War II. Named after his father, he was the secondof their three sons.
Bob attended St. Agnes Elementary School in Jefferson Parish and Jesuit High School in New Orleans. He was a student athlete, lettering on the school’s gymnastics and diving teams. While in grade school, he was the neighborhood newspaper delivery boy for the New Orleans States Item. He learned to maintain his Schwinn bicycle and then learned about the lawnmower engine from his dad. In his day Bob bought, road, drove, fixed or flew go-karts, motorcycles, cars, boats and small airplanes.
Bob also loved nature, especially fishing. One summer, his parents took the family on a fishing trip to Lake Catherine, Arkansas. Bob would always remember the beauty of the Ouachita Mountains. Most summers Bob’s mother would take the familyto Winnsboro, Texas for long stays on the family farm, where they played with their cousins, rode horses, and learned lessons from his Mamaw and Granddaddy about feeding chickens, horses and cattle and shelling peas for enough money to see a movie and buy an ice cream in town on weekends.
In 1972 Bob graduated from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana with a B.S. in Engineering. He was a member of the local Civil Air Patrol and earned his private pilot’s license. After college, he went into business with his father in the oil service industry working for R.F. Varley Company, Inc. Bob became one of the most sought-after directional drillers in the Gulf of Mexico, working the big offshore oil rigs as well as jobsites in Texas, the Dakotas, Canada and Venezuela.
He later moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he met Kirsty Erickson. They shared a goal of living a healthier, simpler lifestyle, closer to nature. They fell in love, became life partners and shared many adventures together. In 2006 they decided to move to Arkansas – first driving their houseboats down the Mississippi River from St. Paul to Memphis, then caravanning to Arkansas to take up residence on a hilltop in Hatfield. They loved their hilltop acres and worked hard building their dream cabin. They carved out organic vegetable gardens, plantedblueberry bushes and raised chickens, with the help of a feisty rooster they named Elvis. They started beekeeping. They pickled, preserved and shared their garden harvests with friends. They were honored to join and serve with the Potter Volunteer Fire Department.
Bob had a brilliant mind, a compassionate heart, and a DIY spirit. Besides his mechanic and craftsman skills, he was a talented storyteller and an award-winning photographer. He loved nature and her creatures, and they seem to like him and not mind his camera.
Bob suffered a stroke in the summer of 201, and his beloved Kirsty died early in 2018. With the help of neighbors, friends and family Bob struggled to recover but passed away at home in his cabin in September 2019. He is survived by his elder brother John, sister-in-law Carmen, younger brother, Patrick, niece Janelle, nephew Christopherand cousins in Texas and California. All, who knew him, will miss him.
There is a memorial page for Bob on the Bowser Family Funeral Home Page
Bob’s brothers and sister-in-law will host a memorial gathering for Bob at the Johnson Manor in Mena, AK, (600 11th St, Mena, AR 71953) Monday evening October 7, from 5 to 7 PM. Friends and neighbors of Bob and Kirsty are invited. There will be light refreshments, and this will be a time to celebrate his friendships and the good years he and Kirsty had in Hatfield. Please come and share your stories about Boband Kirsty. And if you play a musical instrument, please bring it with you. Bob asked that there be singing at any gathering in his honor. Also please let us know if you plan to come by calling 703-969-9818.
Bob’s mother, Xelma, died of Alzheimer’s Disease. If anyone wishes to make a donation in Bob’s honor –please consider The Alzheimer’s Association of Arkansas, https://www.alz.org/arkansas.