Courtesy Chilton family

Appreciation

Bob Chilton, R.I.P.

The 88-year-old croquet hall of famer and DMA benefactor died in a car crash.

Bob Chilton led quite a life. He made a bundle in business, sailed the world, and was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame — among other accomplishments. The J.E.R. Chilton YMCA in Rockwall bears his name. Chilton died September 26 after a car crash in Florida. Rockwall’s Blue Ribbon News carries this obituary, and the family sent a long a few words that are worth sharing:

James Edward Robert Chilton (1932-2021) — Palm Beach, FL

James Edward Robert Chilton III, known as “Bob,” died tragically on September 26, 2021. He was 88 years old. Born on December 13, 1932, in Dallas, Texas, to James Edward Robert II and Ruth (Marchbanks), Bob was a successful businessman, author, photographer, philanthropist, humanitarian, and a husband, father, grandfather, mentor, and friend to many.

For those that knew Bob throughout his remarkable life, they would tell you that he lived life to the fullest. They would tell you that he had five careers and lived a thousand lives. For him, he had three imperatives: “always be moving, always be learning and whenever possible, always invest in the future.”

Bob is survived by his loving wife Mildred “Missy,” son William “Bill,” (Anne), granddaughter Jaclyn, four stepsons, Bobby (Angele), Tommy, Robert (Serena), and Jason (Katherine), and eleven step-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his late wife Linda and daughter Barbara.

Bob is the former Chairman and CEO of Chilton Corporation, a leading information technology company that revolutionize major credit reporting as we know it today. During his 30-year tenure with the organization, under this leadership, Bob transformed Chilton Corporation from a small private entity to one of the largest, most successful public organizations traded on the American Stock Exchange. The company received numerous industry accolades, including being ranked number one by Forbes in its annual “101 Best Performing Companies in America” and noted for being “Best Managed Companies” for five years running. Borg-Warner Corporation later acquired the $100 million organization in 1985. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University.

His love for giving back

Bob was known for his incredible generosity and for giving back to the community in which he lived. He helped raise and donated millions to countless charities over the years, including the YMCA in Rockwall Texas, Women in Need, UT Southwestern Hospital (formerly Zale Lipshy Hospital), where he served on the Board of Trustees, and the Dallas Museum of Art, where he also served on the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board and funded a gallery in his name.

Adventure, Sports, and the Great Outdoors

Enthusiastic for adventure, sports, and the great outdoors, Bob loved to sail. He was one of the founding members of the Rush Creek Yacht Club (est.1969), one of the oldest participants in the 1979 Lightning World Championships on Lake Ray Hubbard at age 46, and in 1990, he made a transatlantic crossing on his 100-foot yacht, Royal Eagle II, to sail the same voyage Christopher Columbus did from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to the West Indies. To break a previous record, Bob, along with other sailors (Bryan Davis and Rusty Jackson), made their voyage in 13 days and six hours – just shy of the record-setting 12.5 days set by a similar yacht.

In addition to sailing, Bob loved skying, hunting, scuba diving, fly fishing, and most of all, croquet, which he had been actively playing for over three decades. He won countless awards, championships, and tournaments throughout the years, was the founding member and board member of the Croquet Foundation of America in West Palm Beach. Further, Bob was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame in 2007 — the pinnacle a player can reach in the game.

Eye for Innovation

Bob is also known and admired for his love of art and photography. Bob was a collector of museum-quality marine art including oil paintings, scrimshaw, whaling tools, and more. Many of the oil paintings in his collection now reside at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) where a gallery bears his name.

An amateur or “hobbyist” photographer, his passion for photography began in the film and darkroom era. For him, he saw the world differently, and photography enabled him to combine his passion for the great outdoors, sports, and human nature, and his innovative approach used digital imaging, light, and backlighting to bring his photographs to life. According to him, “the camera doesn’t lie.” He loved traveling the globe to capture moments, people, and places “that would last forever.” He held many exhibits over the years in both Texas and Florida, and his work can be seen online at bobchilton.com. Bob is also the author of two books, both of his great loves: Serious Croquet and The Lightness of Darkness, each of which captures his photography.

With intense blue eyes, a kind smile, an old-world soft Texas charm, and an incredible zest for life, taken too soon, Bob was loved by so many and will be greatly missed.

Friends are cordially invited to a Celebration of Bob’s Life at four o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, the 21th of October, at Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home, 7405 W Northwest Hwy in Dallas.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Dallas Museum of Arts (DMA), via www.support.dma.org

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