Robert Emrich Mayes was born December 8, 1927 to the late Mary and Robert Mayes Sr., in Evansville, Indiana, where he resided many of his childhood years. He was baptized at an early age and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in his latter years of life. His parents moved to Chicago, Illinois where Robert grew up in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood and graduated from Betsy Ross Elementary School. He attended Englewood High School where he met Gwendolyn Holmes, the love of his life. He was a Charter post guard on the Varsity Basketball Team and also known as the “Master of Free Throws”. His specialty was half court and three point shots.
After graduating from Englewood High School, Robert attended Wilson Junior College (now known as Kennedy King College) where he majored Political Science. He was a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. After college he played with the Fort Wayne Pistons (now known as the Detroit Pistons). He was also a member of the Harlem Globetrotters “Farm Team” and later organized and played with the AAU Pacemakers and the Chicago Brown Barons. Both of these teams held local championships for over 19 years.
Robert worked for the Illinois Toll Commission before coming to the Museum of Science and Industry where he gave 49 years of service managing Food Services, delivering excellence and quality to both customers and staff on a daily basis. While employed there he acquired the distinguished title of “Mr. Museum” and upon retiring an honorary plaque was created and sits to this day within the Museum in remembrance of his exceptional hospitality and service.
In addition to a career in Food Services, Robert worked tirelessly as a phenomenal and remarkable community servant dedicating his life to civic work in the South Shore Community helping to form 75 block clubs which collectively became known as the South West End Area Block Council of which he was the Chairman. He also formed a Community Neighborhood Watch Patrol that coordinated effort to prevent crime. In November 2000, he was the recipient of the “Sweetwater Clifton Award’ by the Institute for Athletics and Education.
In collaboration with Dr. Preston Bradley he aided in the development of the first Chicago Public Library in the South Shore Community and later the Atlas Senior Center on East 79th Street known as an influential support for Senior Citizens. He was one of the most respected neighborhood activist and when called upon to resolve confrontations his reputation for being helpful was without any underlying negative results.
Robert was joined in holy matrimony to Gwendolyn Holmes on march 18th 1951. They spent 67 wonderful years making lasting and loving memories. Two daughters were born to this union, Gail and Beverly. Robert loved God, his family and his community as he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He enjoyed taking family the on roadtrips and weekend camping excursions. He supported his children’s hobbies, activities and goals in life. He also enjoyed traveling with his wife on cruises as well as attending local social outings with Y.E.S (Young Energetic Seniors) Club of which he was a long standing member. He loved jazz music and was known for engaging in free style dancing at parties and social events.
A devoted members of South Shore United Methodists Church for 49 years. Robert is fondly remembered for bringing in record breaking audiences which over populated the pews for various church events including the Annual Handel Messiah Program, Men’s Day program and he also served as Sargent-Of-Arms for the South Shore United Methodists Men. Robert believed deeply in helping people was also well known for visiting neighborhood churches to conduct free home improvement seminars. He was recently recognized with a distinguished tribute in September 2018 at the SSUMC Men’s Day. He received the distinction of being a patriarch, a legend in his own right and a true “Servant of the Lord”.
When his health began to decline he moved to Smith Village Convalescent Home but received daily visits from his family, his Pastor, his basketball buddies, friends and church members. After a long battle with multiple health challenges, on October 26, 2018 at 8:45 PM at Metro South Hospital in Blue Island, Illinois, Robert made his transition to his Heavenly home to be with the Lord.
Preceding him in death are his parents and his grandson, Robert L. Bradley, Jr. He leaves to cherish his memory one loving and devoted wife, Gwendolyn; two daughters Gail Bradley and Beverly ( Johnathan) Hawkins, one grand dog “Bentley”; a host of cousins and many, many special friends.
Chicago, IL 60649
Chicago, IL 60649
Chicago, IL 60655