Robert J. Naughton

Robert J. Naughton, age 82, passed away peacefully on February 7, 2021, in Houston, Texas, after a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Bob was born on April 26, 1938 in Parnell, Iowa, to Laurine and Roland Naughton and is survived by his loving wife of 59 years, Margaret (Peggy) McCarty Naughton, their three sons Kevin (Cynthia), Timothy (Camille), Michael (Lori) and their daughter-in-law Marla Smith (Mark); ten grandchildren, Tim (Anna) Naughton, Alicia Naughton (Camp Fuller), Courtney Naughton, Kevin Naughton, Robert Naughton, Kimberly Smith, Clare Naughton, Brendan Naughton, Connor Naughton, Collin Naughton; two great-grandchildren, Joshua Naughton and Alexia Naughton, sisters-in-law Kay Naughton and Jackie Naughton and numerous nieces and nephews. After graduating from Immaculate Conception High School in Cedar Rapids, IA, Bob attended Loras College in Dubuque, IA, where he was a standout in the classroom and on the basketball court, taking his team to the NCAA Small College Division Tournament in 1959. Bob’s years of Catholic education formed the compass that set the direction for his life. After graduating from Loras in 1960, he married his college sweetheart, Peggy and together they embarked on a 26-year adventure in the United States Navy while Bob served as a Naval Aviator with distinction. Bob’s early Navy career took his young, growing family from Pensacola, Florida, to Corpus Christi, Texas, to Barbers Point, Hawaii and to Lemoore, California. While on deployment in Southeast Asia with VA-113 aboard the USS Kitty Hawk, Bob was shot down over North Vietnam and was taken Prisoner of War on May 18, 1967. After spending 2,118 days in captivity, now LCDR Naughton was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. Bob continued his Naval career first at the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, and then as Executive Officer of VA-83 at NAS Cecil Field before assuming Commanding Officer duties of VA-83 in 1977. His next command was also at NAS Cecil field, where he assumed command of VA-174 in 1979. After being promoted to the rank of Captain, Bob returned to the senior officer course at the Naval War College, and from there accepted his final assignment as Commanding Officer of NAS Dallas, Texas. Bob retired from the Navy in 1987, having received military decorations including the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and eighteen Air Medals. In 1989, Bob became NASA’s Chief of Aircraft Operations Division at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He held that position until 2004, and while at NASA, was awarded the Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Service Medal and was recognized in 1995 by President Bill Clinton with a Meritorious Senior Executive Award. In retirement, Bob and Peggy were active volunteers at their parish and in prison ministry at the Harris County Jail and at Isaiah House, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated men assimilate back into society. In their free time, they traveled, enjoyed fine wine and exceptional cuisine, visiting family, and in the later years, accumulating points as Bridge partners, where he achieved Bronze Life Master status. Bob was happiest when sitting at the head of the dining room table, surrounded by family, and engaged in spirited conservation about a myriad of topics.

A Wake/Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2021  from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm with a  Vigil Service and Rosary at 7:00 pm at Crowder Funeral Home, Webster, TX. The Funeral Mass will take place on Friday, February 19, 2021 at 10:30 AM at St. Clare of Assisi parish, 3131 El Dorado Blvd, Houston, TX 77059. The burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Christian New Creation (11606 Ashworth St. Houston, TX 77016 281-442-7200 www.Cnc-inc.org), or The Pulmonary Fibrosis Association (1525 Lakeview Suite 101 Kingwood, TX 77339 www.pfassociation.org) in memory of Robert J. Naughton.

43 comments

  1. Dear Peggy,
    So sorry to hear of your great loss.
    I spent some time in the same room with Bob in Hanoi, where I learned that he was the best man at my sister’s wedding in Hawaii (John & Bev Whitley).
    He was a really fine man.
    I pray God will give you his peace.
    GBU, Marty

    Marty Neuens
  2. Our hearts go out to you and your family, Peggy. Carol and I remember our great times together when I served as Bob’s executive officer at NAS Dallas from 1984-86. He was an inspiration to me as an outstanding naval officer and a truly fine gentleman. I am making plans now to come to the wake and funeral mass to show my deepest respects both to him as a role model and to you as a great Navy wife who faced and overcame the hardships of raising three fine sons while Bob was interned for six years as a prisoner of war. You and he both will be fondly remembered by all who’ve known you.
    With love,
    JD & Carol

    James D. Olson II, RADM, USN Ret.
  3. So sorry to learn of his passing. Enjoyed working under his leadership at NASA Aircraft Ops at Ellington. Loved that he shared his story with the work force. Very touching and inspirational. May he Rest In Peace.

    Bob Newlin
  4. Peggy and family,
    Nort was the finest officer I ever served with. It was my privilege and honor to have him as my commanding officer in VA=83 and VA-174.
    A kinder and more gentle man there never was, with an incredible sense of humor which served him well as he survived his time in the Hanoi Hilton.
    I will always be beholden to his wisdom and guidance and putting the POW experience in perspective for me.
    I only wish I had been able to stay in contact with both of you over the years. Sometimes we spent the least amount of time with those who have meant the most to us in our lives. Please know he made an incredible impression on my life and who and am.

    Scott Anderson
  5. My first Commanding Officer, RIP Skipper🇺🇸

    James Allen
  6. So sorry for your loss. He is a great man and was an outstanding leader of NASA Aircraft Operations.

    Larry Bowden
  7. Dear Peggy,
    Susan and I both send our most sincere condolences for your loss. Bob was by far the finest man I ever had the privilege of knowing. I have many wonderful memories of him. First was our trip to St. Martin from Roosevelt Roads in a flying club Cessna. It was a Sunday and we attended Mass on St. Martin. I remember the engraved wine rack from VA-83 officers with his favorite German quote “life is too short to drink bad wine”. Words that Susan and I quote often. Most importantly to me, Bob stood firmly by my side as I made my transition to civilian life. His steadfast support and council made that transition as easy and financially stable as any soldier or sailor ever knew. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your wonderful family as you celebrate his life and grieve his absence. I look forward to seeing him again on the other side. God Bless you.
    Sid and Susan Hare

    Sid Hare
  8. Dear Peggy,

    I am so sorry about Bob’s passing. I always enjoyed playing against you and Bob in our virtual bridge games. Bob was such a fine man and a credit to Parnell and Loras College. I remember my niece, Julie Ryan, telling me about going to the ceremony at Loras where he was honored as a distinguished alumni. He lived such an outstanding life and made a difference in so many lives. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Joyce Ryan

    Joyce Ryan
  9. Dear Peggy: I enjoyed Bob so very much. Flying with him in the T-38 was always a wonderful experience… so many stories to relate. You may recall us meeting a few months back at Frenchies as you were dining together. We talked of many things, and some books we were reading at the time –Bob had read mine I think…, The Ordinary Spaceman– and suggested “The President’s Club.” I am reading it now, and think of him with every page turn. He was a wonderful man, with a kind heart, sharp mind, and quick wit. His time at Loras College was also a small piece of my life, as I met several students from there at Space Center Houston. They were quite familiar with his story, and we were all saddened that he couldn’t join us that day. Be strong in his memories, and know that he… and you… are loved. -Clayton Anderson

    Clayton C Anderson
  10. So sorry to hear about Bob’s passing. What a great leader and gentleman. Fair winds and following seas, Captain.

    Scott Kelly
  11. Dear Peggy. I was deeply saddened to hear about Mr. Naughton. MY sister Mary wore his POW wrist band for 7 years and I remember listening to his incredible story when he came to our house for dinner one night after his release. My father, Thomas Scott was very fond of him and often shared amazing stories about him with us. One of the best from the Greatest Generation for sure. Praying for you

    John Scott
  12. Mrs Naughton I had the honor of serving in husband’s command while he was CO over VA-83, he was a great leader for his squadron. I am sorry for your loss. Jim Yarbrough USN Retired.

    Jim Yarbrough
  13. Captain Naughton was my XO then CO when I was assigned to VA-83 Rampagers from 1976 to 1979 and when I was in the reserves at NAS Dallas. He always kept us on our toes to push us to be the best sailors we could be. I still remember his words to me when he inspected his sailors at NAS Dallas during his change of command, “You’re going to keep that beard squared away like always, right Palmer?” I replied, “Yes, Sir, just like back in the squadron. He gave me the biggest smile.”

    Rest in peace, Shipmate, we have the watch!

    Jay Palmer

    Jay Palmer
  14. Dear Peggy, I was so saddened to hear about Bobs’ passsing. I worked for him for many years at NASA . I haven’t been able to find out when the wake or services will be. Please let me know when, as the notice says the services have been postponed. I understand that they will be at Crowder. Please accept my most sincere condolences on your loss.

    Respectfully,
    Charles J. Gillespie

    Charles J. Gillespie
  15. Dear Peggy and all of the kids and grandkids.
    I new Bob during his years at NASA. He was such a positive force for the organization. I didn’t fly with a lot but when I did it was always memorable. His service to our country and what he gave of himself was rare. He will be missed so many.

    Mark Kelly
  16. Dear Peggy and Family,
    We were so saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. It was our privilege to know you and Bob through our St. Bernadette parish and through Bob’s leadership at NASA’s aircraft ops division. Bob was an inspiring leader with a soft-spoken personality that nevertheless commanded universal attention and respect. He was a superb instructor in the T-38 on my few lucky flights with him, and I was always keenly aware of what an honor it was to soar with such a consummate pilot. Bob spent a Safety Day once with the astronaut corps and aircraft ops personnel relating his POW experiences, and all listened with rapt attention and respect for his courage and charity toward his late captors. His faith carried him through that ordeal, and it wins him eternal life today.
    Bob was the American all of us aspired to be.
    We will miss him, and we pray that God’s grace will give you comfort always.

    Tom and Liz Jones
  17. Peggy and family,
    My condolences to you and your family. As Bob’s secretary for over 10 years at NASA Aircraft Operations, he was a great person and supervisor.
    He talked about his family, which he loved so much. He loved Peggy, sons, grandchildren, flying and his country.
    He was a great man with integrity, honesty, and a true gentleman.
    I will always remember you and “Top of the morning Bob in Heaven.”
    Rest In Peace in the arms of our loving Father!
    With a sadden heart,
    Anita

    Anita Papendorf
  18. Peggy,

    I am so sorry to hear about Bob’s passing. It was my privilege to work for him at AOD when I left the Air Force to join NASA in 1992. I still remember coming to your house for dinner when I first arrived in Houston. Bob was a leader, a mentor, and an example to all who worked and served with him as to how to be a professional, and more importantly how to be a decent human being.

    I learned much from him and will miss him.

    Lisa and I hold you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

    Mark Polansky
  19. Dear Peggy and Family,
    I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I met Bob flying on the Vomit Comet. We found that we had several things in common from our time in the military and the Cowboys. He would always come to visit me in the 990 hangar and I have many fond memories. He will be missed, he was a great man.

    Richard Wellborn
  20. Dear Peggy,
    I am so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. I so cherish the time I shared with you and Bob. You both were a wonderful, positive, caring examples of faithfulness to marriage, country and God. I hope all of your loving memories will comfort you.
    Love, Madeline

    Madeline Silcox
  21. Peggy, dear friend of so many years…..my heart is heavy as I know yours is broken.
    Tears flow as I write this not having words to say what is in my heart. For now I will just say I loved you both through all the times…..having to go through this loss twice truly is redemptive suffering. However, as before you are a fortress and though the loss can not be lessened ….God will be your refuge once again.
    I am here in many thoughts and prayers,

    Your Friend always, Connie

    Connie Davidson
  22. Dear Peggy,
    I am so saddened by Bob’s passing. I feel very blessed to have known him and you. A very significant portion of my time serving NASA was an honor to have served under Bob’s leadership. I know I will never know another who was so much a role model for us all. I have fond memories of Bob, and thinking about those times makes me smile. The memories are crystal clear. Thank you, Peggy, for all you sacrificed to bring Bob home, to be there for him. All of us at AOD are better folks for having shared some time walking with Bob. God Bless You!

    Stuart Williams

    Stuart Williams
  23. Dear Peggy,
    Theresa and I have such fond memories of our time with Bob and you. I never met a man I respected more. God bless,

    Terry Pappas

    Terry Pappas
  24. Dear Peggy and family,

    Among other memorable experiences in Bob’s life, he got to spend many years locked up with us in Hanoi. He was a stalwart resister and carried his burden with honor. The NAM-POWs wish him sunny skies and tail winds, as he heads west.
    God bless,
    Mike Lane
    NAMPOWs Secretary

    Michael Lane
  25. Peggy,

    Bob was always my favorite hero. I only wish I had told him that before he died. Truly he will be missed by all who came in contact with him. A real gentleman, scholar and Catholic man. Please accept my sympathy.

    Jim Trosky
  26. Peggy so sorry for your loss..hope to be able to see you soon

    Anita goldman
  27. Dear Mrs. Peggy Naughton I had the pleasure of running the T-38 Flight Line under his Command and highly respected him.I remember the day Mr.Joseph Algranti introduced him to me the day he assumed command of NASA Aircraft Operations and am so sorry for his loss.I still remember him coming to the hospital with you to visit me after my stroke and really did appreciate it more than you will ever know.He was a true Leader and Hero to our Country. R.I.P. Robert J. Naughton. Robert E. Mullen

    Robert Mullen
  28. Dear Peggy,
    So sad to hear about Bob’s passing. We spent many years together from kindergarten through senior year at IC, and then 4 years at Loras. He was a great friend. I have great respect for his dedication to country, especially his time as a prisoner of war. I remember meeting up with him at the O-Club in the Philippines in the early years of our service, and having a heartfelt talk. It was nice to see you both at the various IC reunions through the years. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.
    PS, If possible, I would love to attend the ceremony at Arlington Cemetery as I live nearby. If not possible, perhaps we could get together when you’re in town.

    James Ernst
  29. Dear Peggy & kids, My name is Fred Tully, my wife Maryann and I were close friends of Chuck and Theresa McCarty. We met you many years ago when Bob was a captive. We lived in Eldora. We wore his bracelet faithfully. I serve as a Deacon in the Rapid City Diocese and have used Bob’s story and attitude in two of my homilies. Tomorrow evening I will be doing Stations at the Church In keystone at the foot of Mt. Rushmore. Not aware of Bob’s passing I planned to open stations talking about Bob and lessons he acquired at a very painful time in his life. It is a good message for beginning Lent. You and he have been models for us and for so many. I will keep Bob in my daily prayers for the next 12 months.

    Fred tully
  30. Dear Peggy and Family,
    I played basketball with Bob at Loras College. He was not only a very good player, teammate, friend but also an outstanding person. He is a hero for America and for all of us. I will continue to keep Bob and family in my thoughts and prayers.
    Gene “Tiny” Potts
    P.S. “Bob is Special”

    Gene Potts
  31. This is Kevin Kuzel, Cdr., USNR Retired. It is with great sorrow that I heard of Capt. NAughton’s passing. He was a great leader and a good man! I was one of his junior officers at VA-174 before leaving active duty for the reserves. I am also from Dallas and am proud to know that he was the C.O. of NAS Dallas… – Kazoo

    Cdr. Kevin M. Kuzel, USNR, Ret.
  32. Dear Peggy and family,
    Pierre and I send you our deepest condolences and sympathies over the loss of your dearest Bob. He was one of the finest men we have ever met, and a wonderful neighbor and friend. We were so fortunate to be in the Gourmet Club with you, and enjoyed Bob’s incredible stories, sense of humor and companionship. His knowledge of wine and cuisine was very helpful to our club. We will miss him deeply.
    Patty and Pierre Beynet

    Patty and Pierre Beynet
  33. Peggy:
    My most sincere condolences. Bob and I spent 13 years together at Immaculate Conception in Cedar Rapids. When he was a prisoner was part of your group to help get relief to him through the mayor of C.R. There is an empty space in my heart having lost a close friend from the most formative years. Am better for having known Bob. My prayers and thoughts are with you.
    Joe Day

    Joe Day
  34. Dear Peggy and Family.
    Please accept our condolences and prayers. Bob was my commanding officer in VA-174 and was an outstanding person to learn from and and try to emulate as I gravitated to his rank. In addition, had the privilege to return his favor by serving as his son Tim’s commanding officer a few years later. Later served with his brother Dick in Saudi Arabia therefore had plenty of great moments with the Naughton family. Whenever our paths would cross, it was a genuinely enjoyable experience. Was blessed knowing him and enriched by his great qualities.
    Laura and Rich Thayer

    Rich Thayer
  35. Dear Peggy
    I am so sorry for your loss of a great husband and a true patriot. I had the privilege of serving with him as a sailor and a civilian. He was my Skipper at NAS Dallas and my NASA boss as a contractor managing the original T-38 Avionics Upgrade modification. I had the honor of attending his and your 30 anniversary of his release from captivity, looking at the many scrapbooks of newspaper clippings you saved during the 2,118 days of captivity.

    Fail winds and following seas skipper. Enjoy your eternal life with Jesus.

    Kevin and Laurie (deceased) Flynn
  36. Our sympathy and prayers as you remember and celebrate the life of Great Uncle Bob.

    Michael & Alissa (McCarty) Anderson
  37. Our condolences. As 6th grade kids @ Immaculate COnception in Cedar Rapids in 1973, we made ‘welcome home’ posters for the POW welcome home parade downtown, honoring Robert’s return to his hometown and high school– with a reception @ our church hall. It was a day we all remember with great joy, as Robert’s mother was a wonderful woman and one of our long-tenured lunch-ladies.

    Michael J Ahart
  38. Peggy — Helen and I send our sympathy to you and your family on Bob’s death. You can take great solace in reading the tributes above. Without doubt he was much beloved and admired. I had the great privilege of covering his return from Hanoi. The image of you and the children racing down the tarmac at Glenview NAS will be with me forever. Helen and I frequently met with Bob’s parents and those of Gary Anderson when prison letters, some months old, were read and reread. Thanks to Bob and all Vietnam servicemen and women for their service.

    Dale Kueter
  39. Peggy, I hope you will remember me. I have thought about you and Bob over the years since the Naval War College. I was looking to see if I could find contact information for you when sadly I saw the obituary for Bob. My thoughts are with you.

    Nancy Ruane
  40. I am neither an acquaintance, friend or family member but I too wore a POW bracelet with the name of LCDR Robert Naughton for many years in the early 1970’s. I never knew of his release and his illustrious career until I read his obituary. I have had the bracelet for 50 years and would like to send it to you if you would like to have it as a remembrance. My husband also served in Vietnam and passed away three years ago on February 7th 2018.

    My sincere condolences,

    Alma Ruhland

    Alma Ruhland
  41. Never met Bob in person. But as a volunteer at Isaiah House, I am aware of what he did there. I am honored to be involved with Isaiah House, and very grateful for what he did to make Isaiah House what it is. It has and it continues to help the most vulnerable. What a legacy Bob has left! Peace to his loved ones!

    DAVID TAYLOR
  42. Wow! Nort has gone West. I had the rare privilege of serving with Bob twice in VA-174. .

    Bob is courage incarnate. He is the soul of calm while charting the sea of chaos. He set the example for all of us to follow. He will be sorely missed.

    For Bob’s family: may you find comfort and grace in his continuing example.

    Tailwinds, Brother.

    Ray Waddell

    CAPT Ray K. Waddell USN, Ret.
    • Peggy, I just learned of Bob’s passing. This is very sad news indeed. Please accept my sincere condolences. I very much enjoyed meeting you at the last IC High School reunion a few years ago. As Bob’s friend through high school and at Loras College, I am feeling this as a great loss. Bob was a touchstone for the IC class of 56. I can only offer you and your family peace at the passing of such a wonderful and great human being.

      Mike O’Hare

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