Father, Partner, Mentor, Generous Man, Funny Man...  A Respected Man, and missed by all of us.

I have included the obituary notice and below that an article with some extra bits that might be interesting along with three photos that I think really show my father’s personality.  I hope you enjoy and feel free to forward to anyone you choose.  I know he loved his friends and was a friend to all….a real neat guy he was and he will be missed and remembered….. See images of the Memorial Services held 3 days after the Funeral. 

http://photoshow.comcast.net/watch/nB5if5xn courtesy of Darryl Fedorchak, a friend of Harvey's

"Bobby" was a man who loved to laugh, had many friends, and made new ones wherever he went.

We celebrated his life on Sunday, September 19 at Saint James Masonic Lodge, Tide Mill Road, Hampton, NH.  Masonic Services and American Legion ceremonies were held.

Family and friends came to share their memories of Bobby in words and photos. We have collected, and assembled them in an album for his family and friends to enjoy.  Much of this will find its way to our website.

 

In memory of Robert S. Webber

Robert "Bobby" Webber, died Monday night, September 12, 2005 at the Dover Rehabilitation and Living Center in NH. He was 75. He was well respected in Hampton and nationally for his personal kindness and his knowledge in the Clock and Antiques Business.

Born Robert Sumner Webber October 16, 1929 in Brookline Massachusetts.  He was the son of the Lowell St. Boston Antiques dealer Hyman G. and Sadie Rosen Webber.  They lived on Beals Street across from the John F. Kennedy home.  He moved with his parents to Hampton in 1944, to the historic 1753 Ensign Philip Towle house and barn, where he operated his antiques business, H. G. Webber Antiques with his son Harvey. Tragically, that same year, his mother Sadie was killed in an auto accident when Robert was 15 years old.  One week later, his sister had a near fatal accident just in front of the old Route 1 location. He was a 1948 graduate of Hampton Academy High School.
 

Mr. Webber was an expert appraiser and clock auctioneer. A Fellow in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, he was nationally known as an authority in value of antiques, clocks, and as a professional auctioneer for over 55 years. He ran many auction sales of antique clocks with his associate Robert Albert in Orange County and Los Angeles, Ca, Houston, TX, and his most important sale in Greensboro, SC for the LaRose Clock Museum, a well stocked museum of antique timepieces which broke record prices for the time. He was known for his showmanship and humor as well as his honesty and integrity. His word was as good as gold, most deals being sealed by a handshake.

He served in Germany in the US Army of Occupation 1951-53. His duties included being a supply truck driver. After IQ testing of the group he was transferred into the education division of his battalion as a mathematics instructor.

He was twice past commander for the Hampton American Legion Post No. 35, a 43-year member of Saint James Lodge #102 in Hampton, NH, and a member in Scottish Rite 32nd Degree Masons, Valley of Portsmouth/Dover. He was also a member of the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association and National and NH Auctioneers Association.

He had a heart as big as his barn. Generous to a fault, he did many things quietly without acknowledgment or fanfare. He was known as "my friend" by men who don't use that term lightly. "His word was like gold.” “He was a real good guy and as long as I'm alive, I'll miss him."


For over 22 years he was part of the supervision team for the Fourth of July field day. It was an event enjoyed by many Hampton youngsters

He is survived by his beloved wife of 43 years, Edith (Jacobson) Webber, who he met in Cardiff, Wales where he went to buy antiques.  Her family was also in the antique business. Robert’s father used to buy from her aunt. Robert met her on his own buying trip after his father died.

He was the proud father of twin sons, Harlan Webber, and his wife Catherine ("Catie") of London, England and his business partner, Harvey Webber of Hampton. Cousins Marilyn Young of Kennebunk, ME and Alan Webber and his wife Marilyn of Middleton, MA, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Dorothy Shubert.

A private family service will be held with interment in the High Street Cemetery, Hampton. Arrangements are by Remick & Gendron Funeral Home-Crematory, Hampton, NH.  

In lieu of flowers the family would like donations to the Kidney Foundation.

 

HG Webber Antiques - From Toothpicks to Tiffany

Just north of the center of Hampton stands a circa 1753 twin chimney colonial home and a large barn with a carved sign out front proclaiming: HG Webber Antiques.  Robert and Harvey Webber run the business. HG stands for Hyman George Webber, Bob’s father and Harvey’s grandfather.

Hyman was from Nova Scotia, one of six brothers and one sister. He had a few different enterprises in the Boston area, a candy store in Cambridge, a Haberdasher, a gold shop for used gold, and an antique shop on Lowell Street in Boson called Lamaso Way at the time.  When Robert was born he lived in Brookline MA across the street from John Kennedy.

Robert has one sister, Dorothy, both born on October 16th, three years apart. They would winter in Stoneham, MA and spent the summers in the Hampton area.  In August 1944 they moved to the Route one location and relocated the antique business there.  Robert’s mother was killed in 1944 in an auto accident and one week later, his sister almost died.  She was 13 years old at the time and was hit by a truck that ran the red light while she was out in front of their home.

Hyman George Webber, used to go on buying trips to Europe and kept telling Robert about a nice girl there. Edith Jacobson Webber grew up in Cardiff Wales, her family was also in the antique business.  Robert’s father used to come and buy from her aunt. Eda told me Hyman used to show her pictures. “I have a nice boy, why don’t you come to America.”  “No, I’m not going, what if I don’t like him?”

On one buying trip Hyman told her aunt that he didn’t feel well.  She encouraged him to go straight back to the United States where the medical care was better.  He went on to Spain and he died there. The following year Robert called to introduce himself and to ask if he could buy antiques from them. Eda told me that’s when they found out Hyman had died. “We didn’t know it you see.”

 

Eda tells the story in her English accent, “He came over.  I was there of course. He bought things from my auntie. I helped ticket the stuff for the shippers.  He missed the train to go back to London because it took so long to do the merchandise. Auntie said to Bobby “We have an extra room, you can stay here and go in the morning.”  Then she told me she was not going to get up, that I was to get up and fix him breakfast before he left. Auntie told me, “That’s a wonderful man and he likes you.”

 

He said, “I don’t know why you’re not married but when you are ready, let me know.”  I said, “OK” but I thought it was a joke. There was something about Bobby that was very genuine. Very mannerly and kind, noisy… but underneath -  the uncut diamond.

The following year Robert went over again. He had an extended trip and returned to be with Eda a few times. Before he left that time, they were engaged. Paperwork, inoculations and interviews followed but eventually Eda came to the US and they were married in the Registry Office in Hampton by Helen Hayden. They had twins, Harvey and Harlan who is a banker living in London with his wife Catie (originally from Australia). Eda, has created an English garden behind their house.

Around HG Webber Antiques there are many opportunities for interesting things to see and stories to hear: whether it’s in their barn, colonial house, or the English gardens, or if you go to a tent auction, fine auction, or antique show, you’ll find fascinating antiques, interesting items, remarkable people and… their stories. I heard one person say, “There are so many things in there - in the main barn, in the loft, in the auction room, on the walls, in the cases, in outbuildings that it would be hard to see it all, yet, when asked for a particular thing, they seem to be able to direct you right to it.”

Robert Webber is a character.  So is Harvey.  They all are! As well as the collection of locals who come and hang out and tell tales or play cards around the woodstove in the back corner. Joining them is Reba the black dog. It’s become a meeting place.  Robert entertains them.

He is very knowledgeable as well, famous for his clocks and music boxes. Robert was awarded his fellowship in the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors in San Antonio one year.

Robert has run auctions all over the country.  He sold out the LaRose Clock Museum in Greensboro North Carolina.  He told me he broke the world records in prices. In another place he was fired for working too hard at an auction.

When I was in the barn asking him questions a couple of other antique dealers came in.  One woman said “He’s a nice person, he’s got a lot of bark and doesn’t mean a thing by it.  You’ve got to look behind it.”  A Massachusetts clock dealer said “Mr. Webber would always share his knowledge with other people.  His knowledge of clocks was one of the things he shared.”

Webber’s has sold items to a number of famous people.  Liberace used to come to Salisbury Beach each year and perform at the Frolics and would come up each summer and take a ride in Robert’s Model T. Once he bought a davenport desk shaped like a piano.  Some of the names who have done business with Webber’s: Frankie Lane, Kitty Kalen, one of the Beach Boys, Loving Spoonfuls (an organ). Jacques Cousteau, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward have shopped there. Happy Rockerfeller came in. Whether they are famous or not Eda said, “You meet very interesting people. You never know who is going to come into your shop.”

He has had a collection of cylinder record players. He bought them at $5.00 they are now worth $750.00  each but he doesn’t have them anymore.  He laughed as he told me he sold them at $35.00.

Robert tells a story about an antique show in NYC a woman went to all the dealers and came back to him and told him he was the one she picked to look at her items for sale.  He said fine.  She asked him. “Don’t you want to know why?” “OK, why? “Because anyone with a big mouth like that isn’t going to be afraid to be honest with me.”  He was working the show so he could only go to see her early or late. She told him to come early, she would fix him the “right” breakfast “because you look like you need it.” He made a face and told me it was all diet items. She asked him how he liked it and he said, “I don’t. It’s terrible.”  She laughed and agreed, “But it’s good for us.” He said he asked her what was wrong with her face because she looked like she was in an accident.  She told him,  “I had a face lift.” He told her, “Oh you did, you should have left it alone.” “I have a feeling you don’t know who I am.” said Amy Vanderbilt. “Doesn’t the name mean anything to you?” “Well I’ve heard your name.” “You’re the only person who hasn’t been impressed. I like that. Nothing seems to impress you that much.”  She hired his services to deliver a stove to her place in Vermont as well.

Robert was there the day Elmer Stennes [the famous clock maker] murdered his wife. “I was there and after I left he killed her. It was called Murder on Tick Tock Lane.”

I saw a June 19, 1977 Boston Globe article that called Webber’s Barn a New England attraction for auction lovers. Reporter Debra Loom’s went to one of Robert’s auctions, “He coaxes, he chides, he jokes – and the crowd loves it.”  At a recent Monday night auction at Webber’s, a California antique dealer, called Robert very generous, he said he had a “hard shell but a heart as soft as butter.”

Robert told me he used to swim at the beach 6:30 every morning continuing this routine into November at times.  A problem with his health the last two years, has curtailed this activity and caused the need for a motorized chair. He was recently discharged from the Wound Center at Portsmouth Hospital he proudly told me while sporting a new tee shirt that said “Gone with the Wound.”

Harvey Webber and Ed Beattie are auctioneers now. They have taken on the style of playful banter while they are doing the work of selling various and sundry ‘stuff.’ Don Schweikert, from Ohio, a show promoter for Americana at Dixie was there and told me, “They’re a well known family in the trade. They have exceptional merchandise, fun auctions and great buys.”  Webber’s also buys items or you can consign goods for sale at the auctions.

Webber’s recently handled a large antique auction at an estate in Newburyport and they have their Monday night auctions with hot dogs and chips to sustain the bidders while they wait for their treasure to come up to bid.


I interviewed Eda in her home, a warm, cozy room bursting with antiques, walls and mantle covered with interesting items. Here are some comments about “Bobby” and her children given to me in her British accent. After telling me the story of her meeting and engagement she said, “Basically we’ve lived happily ever after.”

Eda talked about Harvey and Harlan. “Even as children my kids had compassion in their hearts. They are giving kids, they really care.” Both boys graduated from UNH. “Some people are so hungry for success and to acquire that they don’t care how they get it. My boys were never like that. They’re achievers but if they can’t achieve on their own, they are not going to knock anyone out of the way. One thing Catie said about Harlan before they were married “He makes me laugh” “They both have great sense of humor. I didn’t realize Harvey as a young boy was interested in antiques. When Harvey finished college he wanted to do this.”

About all three, “When you first know them it’s a little hard to take.  They tell it like it is, their peers respect that. The only ones who don’t like them may be someone they caught doing something not right and they told them to their face. They’ll never talk about you behind your back – they’ll tell you to your face. It takes courage to be that way, to be outspoken. Yet they are kind – always helping someone. It would be very hard to find anyone who doesn’t like them. They are kind natured. They are entertaining. They love what they do.”

She talked about the Monday night auctions “I think it’s a wonderful auction for people who want to start antiques or furnish a house. I’d like to see some young couples coming, plus it’s such a fun thing.

If you can’t go home with something then there’s something wrong with you. There’s so much stuff there. There’s some antiques, a mish mash of anything. I think the beauty is it only lasts a few hours. Auctioneers Ed Beattie and Harvey are funny and work well together. Everyone seems to have a good time.”

I have to admit it is fun.  I’ve seen some interesting things and…I’ve gotten some bargains.  You can tour the barn, take a bidding number for an auction Monday night or surf the web at www.antiquesforyou.com and see what treasures you can find. Harvey said they have “everything from “Toothpicks to Tiffany.”

Before I left, the last thing Eda said talking about her family and the antiques they love, “They couldn’t do anything else you see.”

www.LynnDurham.com                        Written September 2002