The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


January 11, 2013

Robert L. Rock

Sept. 8, 1927 – Jan. 9, 2013

ANDERSON, Ind. — Robert L. Rock was blessed with an amazing life and the opportunity to serve.

He was raised by his aunt and uncle John and Jessie Rock. He graduated from Anderson High School in 1945, and immediately enrolled at Indiana University. After the summer semester, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a hospital corpsman at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif., caring for our injured servicemen of World War II. After his tour of duty he returned to IU where he earned his BS degree in business, graduating in 1951.

He began work with Jefferson National Life in Indianapolis. In 1954 he joined his Uncle, John Rock, and his brother, John Rock, in the real estate and insurance office, the ‘Rock Agency.” In 1954, at the age of 26, he was elected as a representative to the Indiana General Assembly. He served in the 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1963 sessions, in the last of these he served in leadership positions. In 1964, he was elected Lieutenant Governor of the state. He served with vision and originality by emphasizing tourism, business development, and foreign trade. He also led the state to create many local airports and an industrial revolving fund to aid cities in attracting new industry. He was Commissioner of Agriculture serving on the Indiana State Fair Board and on the Indianapolis 500 committee. He represented the State of Indiana at the 1968 and1969 Rose Bowl and raised the funds for the Indiana floats for the Rose Bowl parade. In 1968, he gained his party’s nomination for Governor. His great disappointment was that he could not lead Indiana with his vision, experience, and governmental skills.

In 1971, he was elected mayor of Anderson and served in that capacity until 1980. He was most proud that Anderson was named an “All American City”; the expansion and improvement of the city park system; the provision of a pension system for city employees; and he established the Anderson Housing Authority Commission to provide affordable housing for disadvantaged families which now services more than 2,000 families.  His administration started the City’s transit system, CATS, brought in new industry, established Historic W. 8th Street, and constructed the fire station at Fifth and Jackson streets. He was known for his caring and respect for all City employees.

In 1956 he married the former Mary Jo Ferguson. They were blessed with 56 years of marriage. That union blessed them with four children and nine grandchildren: Kathy and husband Paul Ray of Carmel, Ind., daughter Lindsay of New York City; Karen Rock-Monnick and husband Stewart Monnick (deceased), daughter Josephine of London, England; Karel and husband Joseph Riedel, children Elizabeth and husband Noé Badillo, Caroline Riedel and Catherine Riedel of Chandler, Ariz.; and, son, Robert and wife Mary Ahlering Rock, children Sarah, William, John and Hugh of Evansville, Ind. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Kitty Tangeman (husband Dick Tangeman, deceased) of Dayton, Ohio, and their children Rick, Travis and Elizabeth; and Dr. Laura Jones and husband, Kevin Graham, and Tom Jones, niece and nephew. He was blessed with many caring and good friends, which he cherished, and nurtured.

He was preceded in death by his Aunt Jessie and Uncle John Rock; Brothers Walter and John; and Sister Ann Jones; Mother and Father-in-law Ralph and Josephine Ferguson; and son-in-law Stewart Monnick.

His lifetime was enriched by his love of travel; books; education; music; and his friends and family. His great passion for the soil was satisfied by his life on his farm outside of Anderson. The last 23 years he and Mary Jo have spent their winters in Fort Lauderdale.

Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church, 230 W. Ninth St., Anderson, with the Rev. Ryan Rasmussen officiating. Burial will be in Anderson Memorial Park Cemetery.

Visitation will be on Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Rozelle-Johnson Funeral Service, 229 S. Rangeline Road, Anderson, Ind.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Madison County Community Foundation or the National Arbor Day Foundation.

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  • Pending obituaries: Aug. 19

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  • Funerals: Aug. 19

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    The Herald Bulletin publishes local basic obituaries, pending death notices and funeral service listings free of charge. Extended obituaries are offered for a fee. Call your funeral home or The Herald Bulletin at 640-4800 for more information.

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