Robert (“Bob”) Frank Leiter, 78, of El Paso, Texas, passed away November 24, 2023, after a long and valiant fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bob was predeceased by his maternal grandparents, Frank and Frances Grier Allbritten, and his parents, Rufus and Pauline Allbritten Leiter, all of Cunningham, Kansas. Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Colonel Emily R. Leiter of El Paso; daughter, Amber Nicole (“Nicki”) Renn (Andy) of Chicago; grandchildren, Jack and Sydney Renn; sister, Mary Leiter Swick (Bill) of Bellevue, Nebraska; nieces Susan Nigro (Edward) of Ashburn, Virginia; Kristin Pascual (Matt) of Chincoteague, Virginia; and Lauren Swick (Daniel) of Portland, Oregon.
Bob was born in Wichita, Kansas, on February 28, 1945, and lived in Cunningham throughout high school. In Cunningham schools, Bob excelled in sports, winning numerous medals in football, basketball, and track and field.
Bob’s illustrious military career began in 1966 when he enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Army Artillery Branch and attended the Redeye Gunner course. After 2 years in Korea, he returned home and enrolled in the ROTC program at Wichita State University. Upon graduation in 1973, he received a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was commissioned into the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry with a secondary MOS in Military Intelligence at Fort Polk from 1973-1976.
In 1977, Bob endured a grueling selection course and was inducted into the U.S. Special Forces branch. He was assigned to Panama as a U.S. Special Forces officer, where he commanded Special Forces Operational Detachment “A” and Company Command in 3rd Battalion 7th Special Forces group. In Panama, he specialized in Central and South American affairs.
U.S. Special Forces HALO qualified, Bob represented the 7th Special Forces by commanding the Jumping Ambassador’s, a Military Free Fall good will team, who put on parachuting demonstrations throughout Central and South America.
In 1985, Bob volunteered for a very sensitive unit (ISA) within the Special Mission Unit- Joint Forces. ISA induction required him to undergo yet another formidable assessment and selection regimen, one of the toughest mental and physical endurance courses in the U.S. Special Forces. With his expertise in counterterrorism, Bob was assigned to USSOCOM and followed onto NATO in Naples, Italy. His assignments took him world-wide, including operational assignments in Central and South America and the Middle East.
Bob’s favorite military assignment was Panama, where he developed his passion for scuba diving. One of his greatest joys was his annual scuba diving trips, often to exotic places, with a group of beloved friends – both military and civilian – whom he considered extended family.
Bob received numerous recognitions and awards throughout his Army career. However, he always said that he loved what he did in the Army so much that he would have done it for free. What he treasured above all were the friendships with his “brothers-in-arms” that lasted throughout his lifetime. Bob retired from the Army in 1993, with over 22 years of service.
In 2002, Bob married the love of his life, Emily. Bob spent his retirement years traveling with and supporting Emily in her career as an Army Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. During that time, they enjoyed a five-year tour in Germany, enabling them to travel Europe. Bob was incredibly proud of Emily’s military accomplishments and was overjoyed to fulfill his “last goal” -- to plan and be a part of her promotion ceremony to Colonel on October 6, 2023.
Bob was an avid University of Kansas basketball fan and was delighted when his grandson, Jack, decided to attend KU. He was proud of both his grandchildren and their accomplishments, doting on his “little granddaughter,” Sydney even more than she doted on him.
Bob was a dog-lover from early childhood. As an adult, he reveled in being an indulgent “Dad” to a long line of beloved German Shepherds, including Kimber and Klaus who survive him. He planned to meet his many other pets who had gone before -- German Shepherds and non-German Shepherds alike – at The Rainbow Bridge.
A memorial service will be held May 30, 2024, at 11 o’clock at the United Methodist Church, Cunningham, Kansas, followed by interment of ashes with military honors at Maud Cemetery. Lunch and a celebration of Bob’s life will follow interment at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall, Cunningham.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Bob’s name to the Lymphoma Research Foundation or the charity of your choice.