Robert Knapp Minard was born in 1916 and raised on a dairy farm in northern New Jersey. Hunting and fishing were not only forms of recreation but also means of sustenance, as he grew from toddler to a young man in the depression era. He joined the United State Navy at age 16 to serve his country and to provide resources for family and the farm.
Meanwhile, a young woman, Thelma Louise Deck, had been born and was growing up in New York City, adventuring into the caverns of museums, libraries and galleries. The two met through a mutual friend in 1940 and married in 1941. Their honeymoon was Thelma’s first camping experience. The young couple traveled north along the east coast heading for Niagara Falls. When they pitched their honeymoon suite at Rangeley Lake in Maine, the beauty of their spot captivated the couple and they set base camp traveling no further.
Thelma followed Bob as his Navy career traversed ports on both the west and east coasts. When Bob was assigned as Weapons Officer for the USS Constellation and ordered to accompany the ship to San Diego, the aircraft carrier was too large for the Panama Canal. The ship and crew made the passage around Cape Horn. Thelma knew she needed to move the family from New Jersey to the west coast and be there to meet the ship. Since it would take some time for Bob to make his journey, Thelma packed up the station wagon and an old Dodge truck with camping gear, six kids, and a map and she set off cross country with a crew of her own, exploring national parks, camping, fishing and making outdoor adventure memories to last a lifetime. Clearly the only child from the city had come a long way in her love and mastery of the outdoors!
Throughout his career, Bob developed an interest in competitive shooting. He and Thelma both took trophies in numerous competitions. He remained an avid hunter and taught all his children to both handle and respect the power of firearms. Retirement from his military career found the family in Northern Virginia where Bob was a founding member of the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club and helped to construct the shooting range with his own sweat equity. The range and club remain vital assets to sportsmen in the Washington DC metro area to this day.
Full retirement took Bob, Thelma and the youngest three of their (now seven) children to New Hampshire and life in the country. Bob helped his youngest son continue to develop a prolific trap line and all enjoyed hunting the woods of their 167 acre property. Thelma took up cross-country skiing. Bob regularly served as referee for rifle and pistol matches around the country including the national championships hosted at Camp Perry. Bob taught hunter safety to youth in his community. This also afforded him the opportunity to check out the young men who might come calling on his youngest daughter who also completed the hunter safety program.
Bob and Thelma traveled the country to see their children in all the places they respectively landed. Each visit offered a different type of adventure. Without a doubt, one of their favorite destinations was visiting in Alaska. While the hunting was of intrigue, the fishing was the real draw. The challenge of landing a wild salmon and how good it would taste cooked over the campfire hooked this outdoor couple.
Even after Bob’s death, Thelma continued to enjoy the outdoors. At age 87 she floated the Salmon River poised as queen of her raft and accompanied by several of her children.
This is a tribute to Bob and Thelma for instilling an appreciation of the outdoors – in numerous manifestations – to all of their seven children. All of the children continue to enjoy outdoor adventures and are instilling that same tradition in the next generations.