Our seniors are full of fascinating stories. Lucky for our Heart2Heart volunteers, one of the most powerful ways they can help seniors is to spend time with them and listen to their stories.
Don’t believe their stories are fascinating? Let us introduce you to Robert “Bob” McVee, who lives in Ft. Lauderdale.
Harvard and hockey
As a youth, Bob was recruited to play college hockey for Harvard University.
“It was great!” Bob said. “All we had to do was skate around, put the puck in the net and no exams.”
While at Harvard, he became friendly with Ted Kennedy. He’d go to almost every Harvard vs. Yale game, no matter the sport. He’d always sit with Kennedy and their group of friends as they cheered on their team.
However, Bob’s athletic experiences were by no means confined to the stands. He and three others from Harvard made Team USA for ice hockey.
While playing in the world championships in then-Czechoslovakia, Bob got checked against the boards. The next thing he knew, he was in the hospital with a broken back.
The United States finished fourth in the 1959 Ice Hockey World Championships. Canada took first.
The underdogs win gold
Even a broken back couldn’t hold Bob back. He recovered and a year later played on Team USA in the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.
“It was unbelievable,” Bob said. “There was so much pressure. Canada and the Soviet Union were the toughest teams in the world. Russia had won the gold medal in ‘56.”
Everyone thought for sure Canada and the Soviet Union would compete for gold, so the schedule was made so that those teams would have an appropriate amount of rest before the final game.
But then the U.S. team shocked the world with an undefeated streak of games, causing the team to go into the final game with barely any time to rest.
“That’s why the final was at 8 o’clock in the morning because they figured it would be Russia and Canada in the finals. And we messed that all up,” Bob said. “It was crazy because we had just played Russia, but we beat them 9 to 4.”
Bob’s team won the first-ever gold medal for the U.S. in men’s hockey.
Bob loves talking about traveling the world with the team and the amazing sights he saw, like the Russian circus in Moscow.
Now, Bob’s picture is up on Harvard’s Wall of Fame right next to President John F. Kennedy’s.
Air Force and beyond
Bob graduated from Harvard with a degree in government. While playing on Team USA, he served in the Air Force Reserves for 6 years.
“I went into the Air Force because that’s part of our duty as citizens of the U.S., and I was proud to do it,” Bob said.”
After the Air Force, Bob abandoned his government degree and went into the insurance business. Later, a colleague sold his business to Bob.
“He didn’t have any children to pass it onto,” Bob said. “I ended up with this unbelievable office in New Haven. Gorgeous office and the business was huge. So I stayed an insurance agent the rest of my life.”
Bob loved the freedom to travel and make his own schedule. He and his wife traveled all over, especially after their four children went off to college.
Harder times but still blessed
Times are harder now. Money is tight so Bob visits a food pantry at a local church.
Even so, Bob still feels blessed. He is grateful for amazing memories, for the beautiful view of the ocean from his home, and for his visits from Heart2Heart volunteer, Steve.
“It’s been very nice and helpful to visit with Steve,” he said. “We have lunch together and do things, and he brought me a nice meal at Thanksgiving. I was already very blessed, and I’m even more blessed to have people in my life like him.”
Steve says it’s a pleasure spending time with Bob. He is especially struck by Bob’s generosity.
“Just his willingness to help others at his own expense. He’ll go without,” Steve said. “He’s very humble and doesn’t ask for anything from anyone.”
To hear stories from other local seniors, explore outreach opportunities as a Heart2Heart volunteer.