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  • Writer's pictureSandee Caviness

Roses in the Park

Bob Timberman’s Blossoming Legacy of Service

Bob Timberman
Photo of Bob and his family after the Pinning Ceremony. From left to right: Bob’s brother Phil, his sister Karla, wife Barbara, son’s Bruce and Devin, niece Brittanie. Photo by Barbara Sherman Photography

In the heart of Munds Park, where the echoes of the past stand in stark contrast to the realities of the future, resides one of its revered citizens, Bob Timberman. Since moving here in the early ‘80s, Bob, a Vietnam era veteran, has spent countless hours serving our community. Through decades of dedicated volunteerism, he has helped shape the values and visions of Munds Park. Now, as he faces the twilight of his journey, Bob reflects on his profound connection with the place he calls home, offering wisdom and guidance to the generations that will follow. His story is a poignant reminder of the community’s evolving dynamics. It inspires all who believe in the power of legacy and the strength of community ties.

Serving His Country

Bob and Barbara Timberman’s marriage, now nearing six decades, began under the shadow of the Vietnam War. On their very first Valentine’s Day, a romantic card from Barbara was accompanied by a life-altering letter—Bob was drafted. Since that day, the couple has never celebrated Valentine’s Day.

Choosing to take control of his fate rather than succumb to uncertainty, Bob enlisted. His hope was to avoid being a frontline infantryman, instead gaining skills in a specialized area. His military journey took him to Germany, not Vietnam, where he trained with Hawk Missiles and as a sniper, although he mostly found himself behind the wheel of military trucks. Bob’s service involved playing war games and patrolling the Czechoslovakian borders—armed, yet restrained and not allowed to use his weapon. Bob said it was much like today on the border. Our Border Patrol is charged with protecting our borders but cannot use their weapons if needed.

Every month brought a stark reminder of war’s reality: a list naming comrades sent to fight and those who had fallen. Bob counts himself fortunate to be among the 13 in his troop who never saw the Vietnamese front.

Life abroad with Barbara was quaint and adventurous. Residing in a modest one-room apartment without an icebox meant daily shopping trips and an unexpectedly romantic lifestyle. They traveled through Austria, Switzerland, France, and Bavaria, enjoying a freedom distant from the turmoil back in the States. Bob said the military shielded them from the era’s contentious protests and social upheaval. They had no idea what was going on.

One memory that profoundly touched Bob was his visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was a heartbreaking memory that he will never forget. Barbara visited on her own and was so deeply moved that she cried through the entire tour. Bob expresses a poignant wish for today’s youth, suggesting that world travel and exposure to such historic sites could greatly enhance their education and appreciation of American values. It would do more than any college education; judging from what’s happening today at our universities, they would learn more.

However, Bob’s military service also exposed him to domestic conflicts. Shortly after returning to the U.S., he found himself on red alert during the 1967 Detroit Riots. The U.S. Government was sending snipers to take out agitators during the riots. Armed and in full gear, he was prepared for a confrontation he hoped to avoid. Bob remained firm, he was not and would not take American lives, regardless of the circumstances. His principled stance and the lesser-known role of snipers during the riots reflect a complex period of service.

Despite the harsh reception Vietnam veterans faced upon their return, Bob remains unregretful and proud of his service. His dedication to his country is unwavering, and he proudly declares his veteran status.

Recently, as Bob entered palliative care provided by Northern Arizona Hospice, his service was honored through a poignant Veteran Pinning Ceremony. These ceremonies are a heartfelt acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by veterans like Bob. They offer a profound expression of gratitude, providing veterans and their families a moment of recognition and closure, affirming the significance of their service at life’s end.

Bob took great pride in the Pinning Ceremony, enthusiastically showing me the pins he received. It was touching to see his joy and pride in the recognition of his service.

Bob Timberman didn’t hang up his sense of duty with his uniform. In Munds Park, he found a new field of service, driven not by obligation but by a genuine desire to contribute. This inherent drive was a natural part of Bob’s character, from which Munds Park greatly benefited. Alongside Barbara, Bob’s hands, once trained for war, were now instruments of nurturing the place they call home.

A Legacy of Service

Bob Timberman’s commitment to community service has flourished as magnificently as the roses in the Memorial Rose Garden, which he meticulously cultivated beside the firehouse. Driven by a civic spirit familiar to his generation, Bob gave his time to local organizations. He served on the board of the Pinewood Sanitary District, worked with the Munds Park Trail Stewards, participated in the CERT Program, took part in Neighborhood Watch, and worked the 4th of July Parade.

Yet, it was the garden that captured his heart. Back when he and Barbara lived in Paradise Valley, Bob nurtured 225 rose bushes, mastering the art of rose gardening with every possible variety. This passion caught the eye of John Welsch, the fire chief at the time, who entrusted Bob with transforming a neglected patch of land by the firehouse into a thriving splash of color and life.

Initiated around 1994, the Memorial Rose Garden became more than just a project; it was a canvas where Bob painted his love for the community. Though he had a few helping hands over the years, it was primarily Bob and his son, Devin, who were the caretakers of this living tribute. This garden was not just about beautification but a place of connection. Bob cherishes his time there, engaging with passersby, enjoying the weather, and playing in the dirt, where he finds peace and purpose.

I asked Bob about his favorite rose varieties, hoping to tap into his knowledge for my own rose garden! He shared the following list:

  • The Henry Fonda Hybrid Tea Rose, a bloom as bold and assertive as its namesake.

  • The Kentucky Derby Hybrid Tea Rose, which carries the spirit of celebration and competition.

  • The Midas Touch, known for its golden hues that seem to light up any garden.

  • The Oklahoma Rose Hybrid Tea, deep and resonant like the heartland of America.

  • The Firefighter Hybrid Tea, a fierce red tribute to courage.

  • Mr. Lincoln, profoundly red and stately, a fitting homage to an American icon.

  • The Memorial Garden is more than just a collection of roses; it is a testament to his dedication to beauty and community service. Each rose planted by Bob tells a story of care, community, and the ongoing legacy of a man who gave as much as he grew.

How Times Have Changed

Bob and Barbara first discovered Munds Park through friends who had a cabin here. Like everyone else who has wandered through these parts, they were quickly captivated. In 1987, they found their summer sanctuary, and by 1999, what was once a seasonal retreat became their forever home. The pristine landscapes were a draw, but it was the warmth of community life that truly made them stay.

Over the years, I’ve asked long-standing residents like the Timbermans how Munds Park has evolved. Both Bob and Barbara agree, “It has changed drastically.” Their realtor mentioned that the community typically sees new faces every five years—a cycle they found hard to believe but soon saw as true.

The landscape of ownership has shifted significantly since then. Today, the cabins and homes are increasingly purchased not by families seeking a seasonal getaway but by investors and short-term rental operators. This new wave of ownership doesn’t seek to immerse in the community but rather to capitalize on it. People are here to escape, have a good time, tear the place up, and then retreat back to the concrete jungle. Bob explained that this is a devastating loss and breaks the commitment and connection that once thrived among seasonal and full-time residents alike.

The sense of community that was supported by locals who dedicated their time to volunteer is waning. The aging pioneers of the Park can no longer shoulder the community activities they once spearheaded, and fewer are stepping up to fill their roles. Furthermore, the Country Club was initially created to serve the community and historically served as a hub for gatherings, such as the annual Fourth of July fireworks—symbolizing unity and celebration—have transformed. Previously a welcoming and affordable space for all residents, the Country Club has now become a private establishment distanced from the day-to-day life of most Munds Park residents, fostering a feeling of “them and us” atmosphere.

Even our Dark Sky status is under threat, with streets that once invited stargazers are now “lit up like airstrips,” Barbara says. And where quiet golf carts once peacefully roamed, now thunderous, off-road vehicles tear through, shattering the peace.

Bob reminisces about a time when Munds Park was a whispered secret, a treasure kept under wraps to protect its quaint charm. But social media and the rise of vacation rentals have lifted the veil, exposing this hidden gem to the masses. “They say these rentals boost our community financially,” Bob says, skepticism clear in his tone, “but at what cost?”

Bob Urges New Generations to Step Up

At 78, Bob reflects on a life filled with purpose and service as he navigates the autumn of his years under palliative care. His days are marked by deep reflections on the past and heartfelt hopes for the future of Munds Park, the community he has loved for decades.

When asked about the wisdom he wishes to impart, Bob’s response is impassioned: “Take our community back before we end up like Flagstaff or Sedona. Take pride in our community and fight for it.” He advocates for a revival of the times when neighbors actively supported one another. For Bob, this isn’t just nostalgia—it’s the essence of a thriving, resilient community.

“There are still wonderful people here, but they are aging and moving on. I want the newer generation to step up—neighbors helping neighbors, volunteering, and being involved,” Bob urges, his voice heavy with worry.

Bob also encourages the younger generation to broaden their horizons through service and exploration: “I wish the younger generation would serve their country, travel the world, and learn why America is so great,” he states, reflecting on how his own experiences abroad enriched his understanding and appreciation of his homeland.

As he talks about his love for his country and the importance of respecting neighbors, Bob becomes emotional. “It breaks my heart to see what’s happening today,” he confesses. Tears begin to well, signaling the depth of his concern and his deep hope for a resurgence of community values.

Despite the rapid changes affecting Munds Park and the broader nation, Bob relishes the memories of a more united community. He remains hopeful that the foundational values of mutual support and engagement can inspire new residents to foster a renewed community spirit. Bob’s reflections serve as more than a nostalgic look back—they call for a return to the principles that made Munds Park the Mayberry of neighborly love and collective pride.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Bob for his unwavering love of country and his dedicated service to the nation and the Munds Park community. His commitment has enriched the lives of many and set a profound example of civic duty and community spirit. Thank you, Bob, for inspiring us all to cherish and engage more deeply with the places we call home.


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