Robert R. Timberg: Vietnam vet, journalist and friend

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I was very sad to learn of the passing of my friend, Robert R. Timberg. Former Baltimore Sun editor and Aging Newspapermen’s Club member Ernie Imhoff reported that Bob died of respiratory failure about 8:30 Tuesday night at the Anne Arundel Medical Center, according to his son Craig Timberg. Bob had been in rehab recently after suffering two strokes. He was 76.

Robert Timberg signing a copy of his book Blue-Eyed Boy at the 2015 Baltimore Book Festival. (Anthony C. Hayes)
Robert Timberg signing a copy of his memoir, Blue-Eyed Boy. (Anthony C. Hayes)

I met Bob at the ANC lunch about 5 years ago. I guess like most, I was momentarily stunned by his appearance. It was obvious he had been severely burned at some point in his life. I quietly asked my table-mate, writer Rafael Alvarez, what had happened to Bob. Ralph simply replied, “Timberg is a legend”.

I later learned that Bob had been grievously injured by an explosion in Vietnam, and survived a torturous road to recover from burns to his arms, neck and face. His life in the Marine Corps done, Bob turned to journalism. He would go on to enjoy a long career (1973-2005) with the Evening Sun, and later the Sun. Bob would also pen 4 books, including Blue-Eyed Boy, which we excerpted in the Post-Examiner.

Bob was always laid back when we met for lunch. I think he enjoyed the camaraderie of the Aging Newspapermen’s Club. One-on-one, we usually talked military affairs, politics, or theatre. Bob, as I discovered, was a fan of most anything on the local stage. We’d compare notes on our likes and dislikes, the way savvy critics do.

Last fall, I said Thanks to Bob for his friendship by transcribing an hour-long interview he’d conducted at the Baltimore Book Festival with Senator John McCain. Bob was visibly touched that I’d taken the time to type the entire interview out, but I told him for me, it was an honor.

It still is.

Rest in Peace, Capt.Timberg