Robert C. Corthell, 1948-2017: Trucker, Teacher, Family Man

by Bill Brenner on November 9, 2017

Robert C. Corthell of Haverhill, Mass., died peacefully at Lahey Burlington Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, surrounded by loved ones, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was 69. He fought his brief illness with the same stubbornness and grit by which he lived.

His family and friends knew him as Bob, Bobby, Dad and Grandpa.

He was born and raised in Haverhill and, after serving in the U.S. Army, spent the rest of his life there, though in more recent years he and Sharon spent their winters in Winterhaven, Florida.

He made his living as a truck driver, hauling tractor trailers, commuter and school buses and just about anything else with four wheels and a motor. He was proud of his profession, keeping model cars and trucks around his desk at home. He retired from Conway Freight in 2014.

His nephew, Chris, remembers coming back from Germany in 1981 and riding with him while he drove a commuter bus to Boston.

He was a family man first, always there to help bail someone out if they were stuck on the side of the road or facing other crises. He and Sharon took in family and others in times of need. He was a devoted member of All Saints Parish in Haverhill and sent his daughters to St. Joseph School, then part of the parish. There, he served as a Sunday school teacher and Eucharistic minister.

Above all, he was a teacher.

On the side, Bob and Sharon ran Chandler’s Auto School and, as his niece, Faith, remembers, taught virtually half of Haverhill to drive.

After his brother-in-law, Leon Basiliere, suffered a stroke, Bob taught him how to drive again and helped him get his license back.

He taught just about all of his kids, nieces and nephews to drive and had started teaching his grandson, Sean. At Conway, he taught fellow employees about truck-driving safety. After retirement, he continued to teach driving and safety at the New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) in North Andover, Mass.

He taught his son-in-law, Bill, how to drive with a stick shift in a beaten-up Ford Escort up one of the steepest hills in town. Bill was nervous as hell, and thinks his father-in-law enjoyed that.

He was passionate about RV camping and the safe and proper use of firearms. He and Sharon took their camper out regularly, and they lived in one during their Florida winters. Those passions rubbed off on his children and grandchildren, and each summer they would all camp together.

He taught his daughter, Erin, and son-in-law, Bill, how to haul a camper, set it up, close it down and maintain it. He also taught most of his children, his oldest grandson and various friends how to shoot with a firearm.

He and Sharon were avid square dancers and were members of the Firesiders, Montachusett Twirlers and Wolf Rockers square dancing clubs.

He had opinions and wasn’t afraid to share them, especially when it came to politics.

He taught countless people how to live and love. For that, we’re forever grateful.

He is survived by Sharon, his cherished wife of 48 years, his children, Erin Brenner and her husband, Bill; Robin Coughlin and her husband, Tim; Sara Croft; and Amanda Daniels and her husband, Matt, all of Haverhill. He also leaves behind his grandchildren, Sean, Duncan, Madison and Owen, many nieces and nephews, and his siblings: Cindi Basiliere, Janet Gillis, Natalie Pineau and her husband, Steve; Steve Corthell and his wife, Pat; and Fred Corthell and his wife, Terry. Bob was preceded in death by his sister, Nancy.

CALLING HOURS will be Sunday from 2-5 p.m. at Driscoll Funeral Home, 309 S Main St, Haverhill, MA 01835. A funeral Mass will be held Monday, 10 a.m. at All Saints Parish, 120 Bellevue Ave, Haverhill, MA 01832, followed by burial at St. Joseph Cemetery, 892 Hilldale Ave, Haverhill, MA 01832.

In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in memory of  (name of tributee) to support the greatest needs in patient care. Please send your gift to: Philanthropy Office, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805. You also may donate at


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric Parizo November 9, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Nicely written Bill. Our condolences to Erin and everyone who loved him.

Cheryl VanVeghten November 9, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Sorry to hear about Robert’s death. He will be missed in the square dance community, especially the Wolf Rockers in Mason, NH. Rest in Peace. It is a well written obituary.

Sherri November 9, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Beautiful write up you captured the essence of who he was. Prayers for all of you during this difficult time. He will be greatly missed. Love Sherri and Tyler

RICK CLOUGH November 9, 2017 at 3:58 pm

My deepest heartfelt condolences. I knew Bob as a friend, a fellow brother trucker, and a great CDL Instructor. I didnt know Bob very long but shared happy moments together posing with our classics next to NETTTS Training Truck. I will miss him. God Speed Bob, and God Bless to his family. Sincerely, Rick

matthew day November 9, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Rest in peace. And may your faith in God carry you through

Branden Gordon November 9, 2017 at 4:52 pm

A true friend and a pleasure to work with he will be truly missed god bless and my prayers go out to his family . May you Rest In Peace your friend branden

Lisa Marcoux November 9, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Very well written and touching tribute Bill. Much love and hugs to all.

Robin Fast-mitchell November 9, 2017 at 8:47 pm

I am sorry for your family’s loss. I had just reconnected with him on facebook. He will be missed.

Robert Goggin November 10, 2017 at 12:49 am

Bobby was my longest friend. We would go for decades without seeing each other but started playing together at about the age of 5 or 6. Worked on the Chadwick farms together, went to Aggie together.
I never remember seeing him without a smile on his face. You will be missed my friend. I cried for you today when the played taps at the Elementary School I’m a crossing guard at during their Veterans day ceremony.

Michael Corthell November 10, 2017 at 9:02 am

Very sorry to hear of Bob’s passing at such a young age. I met he and his wife Sharron once in my travels and I’m very happy that I did.

Danielle Corthell November 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

Wow you wrote it Beautifully, Bob was a pure soul who we all knew wad there when we needed him.. Rest in Peace Bob. We will all miss you.

Lesley Petitbon November 11, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I was so sad to learn of Bob’s passing. He was a good family man. He will be missed. R.I.P. Bob. My condolences to Sharon and family.

Mary Costulas November 11, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Touching tribute to a beautiful man Bill. May he rest in peace

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