Roberta A. (Bobby) Lonnquist, died on December 31st, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida at the age of 90. A lifelong resident of New Jersey, she had lived in Ponte Vedra Beach for the last 15 years, most of that time with her husband of over 50 years, Chet, who passed away in 2020.
The daughter of Robert and Adelaide Aspden, she was born in Jersey City and grew up in Union, NJ. Although an only child, she was surrounded by a very large extended family, many of whom lived nearby. She often shared memories from those days of her many cousins, aunts and uncles.
After graduating from Union High School, she went to work for Bell Laboratories as an administrative assistant. At the time, Bell Labs was the premier private research institution in the country, responsible for many fundamental innovations including the transistor, the laser, the UNIX operating system and the videophone. This experience imbued her with a tremendous respect for science and the power of education. While working there, she became friends with a set of other young women who became part of “Club”, a group of friends who shared many activities including summer house rentals and learning to ski on company-sponsored trips. These women became her closest, lifelong friends. When they lived in New Jersey, this group would get together monthly for food and laughter. She spoke fondly of her “Club” friends her entire life.
While at Bell Labs, Bobby met her husband Chet, who worked there as an electrical engineer focused on telephony switching systems. Chet was the son of Swedish immigrants who had come to New York City. He stayed with the Bell System for his entire career, which spanned 40 years. After living in Holmdel, NJ and Naperville, IL, they settled in Berkeley Heights, NJ and stayed there for 30 years, despite the eventual break-up of the Bell System and all the changes that followed.
She had a strong desire to complete her education, so when her son graduated from high school, she made it a goal to also graduate from college. After community college, she earned a Bachelor’s of Social Work degree from Rutgers University, an impressive achievement for someone at that stage of life. After working in social work for a few years, she returned to Bell Labs to work for Dr. George Baker, who had previously served as President. She greatly enjoyed coordinating and learning about his activities, especially his involvement with important public commissions.
In the 2000s, Bobby and Chet spent more and more time in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, eventually retiring to the Sawgrass community there, where several of her “Club” friends had also retired. She had a lifelong love of the ocean and Chet stayed active playing tennis well into his 80s. They both loved having friends and family – especially their grandchildren – visit, which formed some of her happiest memories.
She is survived by her son John, daughter-in-law Jane and her beloved grandchildren Will (24) and Anna (22). Her family will remember her pride in the next generation, generosity with and loyalty to her close friends, her determined character, her prodigious memory and her keen intelligence. She will also be remembered for her deep appreciation of water views and sunsets, lifelong love of gadgets, rapid shorthand, unique two-footed driving technique, love for Gray Rocks and Mad River Glen, strong faith in Cubco bindings and many other characteristics – but most of all for her abiding love for her family.
A private family service was held on January 28 in Holmdel, NJ to celebrate her life as well that of her husband. Holmdel was where they lived when they were first married and was the location of their first house, a house she always deemed her favorite. True to form, her final resting place has a nice view.
May she rest in peace. Charitable donations can be made to the American Heart Association.