Robert “Bob” Dean, Jr.
I was born in Queens and like many others during the post-war era moved to the Long Island suburbs, first to Westbury for a couple of years and then on to Hicksville where I attended Dutch Lane Elementary for three years before going on to both Junior and Senior High School where I graduated in 1965. Following that I enrolled at Nassau Community College and received an A.A.S. degree in Business Administration in 1968, having lost a full semester stemming from injuries I suffered in a motorcycle accident in October of 1965.
From there I transferred to Brigham Young University where I earned a B.S. degree in Business Management in 1970 and thereby became one of the few non Mormon graduates of that institution. Although I can’t say I remember him, I went to school briefly with Mitt Romney who is the same age as me. I graduated a year before him as he had taken time out to go on an obligatory mission for his church a few years earlier.
Upon returning home from school I began a life long career in the commercial insurance business. My first job was in lower Manhattan where I worked for a national insurance broker. I married a girl from Brooklyn in 1971 and we had three daughters born in 1974, 1977 and 1987. In early 1978 we moved to New Haven, Connecticut as the result of a job transfer with a large insurance company that I was working for at the time. In 1982 I changed employers again when we relocated to New Mexico, in part because my parents had moved there in 1972 but also because I always wanted to return to the southwest where I had gone to school.
We bought a home in Rio Rancho which is just northwest of Albuquerque and I soon realized what a small world we live in. The neighbor who lived behind us had a street sign on a pole in his back yard that read “Broadway/West Marie Street”. Turns out his name was John Econopouly who owned the Sweet Shop on Broadway in Hicksville. He grabbed the sign when Broadway was widened in 1967 and subsequently moved out here after he sold his business.
I continued my career in the insurance business working for a broker with a branch office in Albuquerque that coincidentally was also my first employer in New York. I soon developed a specialty selling professional liability insurance to architects, engineers, surveyors and environmental consultants in private practice. By 1991 I had built a significant client base and became confident enough to go out on my own establishing R. J. Dean & Associates in July of that year. Since then I have continued to be the largest provider of insurance for design professionals in New Mexico even though we are a very small agency.
No life is without some tragedy and my share came in 1987 when our third daughter was born ten weeks before her due date as a result of some serious pregnancy complications that afflicted my wife, not the least of which was severe pre-eclampsia, or toxemia. After a long, arduous operation my wife was placed in ICU on a ventilator for two days. A few days later she suffered a cardiac arrest at the hospital when she was alone and unmonitored in a semi-private room and was clinically dead when the CPR team arrived. Just prior to giving up they somehow managed to revive her. After she came out of the coma over a week later it was clear that permanent brain damaged had resulted. Our daughter, who weighed in at just over three pounds, was in new born ICU for a month until she got up to four pounds and I was allowed to take her home.
My wife was released to me after spending two months in a rehab hospital so I had to take care of her, a little preemie, and our two older girls mostly by myself. Seven years later in 1994, exhausted, I had her placed in a nearby nursing home. Not too long after that I reluctantly began divorce proceedings so I could get on with my life but still be able to manage her care. Unfortunately, her siblings, one of whom had become her legal representative and all of whom lived out of state and had done nothing for her, declared war and cleaned me out in the divorce. At that point one of her sisters moved my wife to Colorado, away from her children, and put her in another nursing home where she is to this day despite their earlier promise to take care of her at home.
During this fiasco Divine Providence smiled on me in the summer of 1995 when I re-connected with a woman from Long Island whom I had known since 1971. Both of us had gotten married six weeks apart that summer and met a few months later in church. Our families became casual friends although she and my wife were the ones who maintained the relationship. She had kept in touch with us through occasional letters over the years. As we gradually moved westward she was familiar with my difficulties after losing my wife. Since 1987 I was the one keeping up with our once a year correspondence.
In her letter that year she mentioned how bad her marriage had been from the beginning and that she was also in the process of getting a divorce from a very abusive husband. This came as a complete shock to me. We soon began trading letters weekly (no email back then) and never saw or talked with each other since she couldn’t afford a telephone. She was living in poverty, trying to raise her six children while being separated from her husband who was living with his mother and had been out of work for three years and counting. Long story short, after three months we had fallen in love through the mail.
I then made arrangements so we could finally meet each other for the first time in over 17 years. When that happened we realized that we were destined to be together. She left Long Island with her three minor children and came to New Mexico where we have been living happily ever after in the Land of Enchantment. In 1998 we moved from Rio Rancho to Placitas which is in the foothills on the north end of the Sandia Mountains that overlook Albuquerque on the east side of the city.
My wife is the former Greta Dixon who grew up in east Patchogue and graduated from Bellport High School, Class of 1971. We have a combined family of nine children, including seven girls, and now have eleven grandchildren. Three of our children live out of state, one of which has three of our grandchildren. They live in Tampa, Jacksonville and Seattle at the present time. The rest live in Rio Rancho which is about 20 miles southwest of us. Although I have no immediate plans for retirement one of my projects will be to write a book about the second half of my life. All’s well that ends well as we have been blessed tremendously with our blended family. All the physical things we lost in our divorces have been replaced many fold as my business has prospered since that time.