Robert Pogna Obituary (1925 – 2019) – Albuquerque, NM

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Robert (Bob) Pogna

Robert (Bob)

Pogna was a godly and patriotic man who lived every day of his life with honor, integrity, and self-sacrifice fueled equally by his love of faith, family, and country. He was devoted to his Catholic faith and supported the Church throughout his lifetime. He was born to John and Ethel Hogan Pogna in Maywood, CA on July 20, 1925 and died on September 20, 2019 in Austin, TX. Bob was the younger brother of John Patrick (Jack) Pogna.

When Bob was 12 years old, his family moved from Southern California to Gunnison, Colorado to work on his great-grandmother’s ranch. He attended the Pine Street School; a two-story structure built in the 1880s. He said he did “pretty well” in school despite his responsibilities of “putting up hay, milking cows, and chasing horses.”

In 1943, Bob and Jack enlisted in the Navy during WWII. Bob served on the USS Pocomoke, a seaplane tender, where he maintained Patrol Bomber Martins in the Philippines. He was profoundly impacted by his military service, and for the remainder of his life, he loved sharing stories about his travels and experiences. After an honorable discharge from the military, Bob returned to Gunnison and, with the GI Bill, he attended Western State College (WSC) where he and his friends formed a rodeo club and competed throughout Colorado and surrounding states. He earned a Bachelors of Business Administration at WSC. In 1950, he married the incomparable Millie Carelli—WSC’s Homecoming Queen—whose style and strength foreshadowed a life of service and leadership. Bob worked for the Atomic Energy Commission, (AEC) and later at EG&G. He retired as Head of Security at Los Alamos National Laboratories in the early 1980s. Bob and Millie raised their beloved daughters in Albuquerque. Bob and Millie were children of the Depression, which deeply influenced the value they placed on education, and in turn, encouraged that pursuit with their daughters. All three girls inherited a passion for learning and completed their undergraduate work at The University of New Mexico and each went on to earn advanced degrees. Millie and Bob were married 67 years until her passing in Albuquerque in 2017.

Bob was committed to health and fitness before it was popular. His excellent physical condition was so noticeable, a young neighbor once mistook him for the famous TV fitness guru, Jack LaLanne. Bob hiked, jogged, bowled on a league, golfed with friends, and thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors. He repaired anything that needed fixing around the house and became a self-taught plumber, electrician, and mechanic. He built a charming playhouse for his daughters, complete with glass pane windows, locking door with skeleton key, and window boxes for planting flowers. He crafted wooden furniture for his daughters and gifts for his grandchildren. Bob loved his misbehaving rescue dogs, prompting his daughters to tease him about a permissiveness never afforded his own children.

Bob spent an inordinate amount of time fundraising and shuttling his daughters to their track, diving, swimming, and skiing events, and he taught his daughters to shoot tin cans off old fence posts with his handguns. The security of his family was of paramount importance to Bob. He filled our gas tanks every Sunday, changed our oil, and made sure we could use a tire gauge and maintain our cars. He taught us the value of a dollar and the importance of investing in the future.

Bob and Millie were extremely proud of and dearly loved their three beautiful grandchildren, Taylor, Grayson, and Alexandra who lovingly referred to them as Poppy and Lilla. Before his death, Bob was thrilled to spend time with his first great-grandchild, Roman.

After Millie passed, Bob spent his final two years in Austin, TX at Ledgestone Assisted Living, spending countless hours exploring Austin with his daughters. He was involved in many activities; he led weekly Wii Bowling competitions and was known for his kindness and dry wit.

His daughters have many special memories of their parents.

Kathleen said:

We were the most blessed of daughters, raised by loving, wonderfully supportive parents. Millie sewed most of our clothing and baked fresh bread every Friday. The smell of fresh-baked bread always triggers this special memory. Our family cherished our Fall pinion harvesting trips to the NM mountains where Dad would shake the trees and we would collect the fallen pinions from a tarp carefully placed underneath the trees. Mom would roast the nuts when we got home. Dad built a raised wooden platform over the back seat of our car so that we three girls could snuggle in blankets and eat our popcorn while watching drive-in movies. One special road trip was to Southern California to visit Dad’s childhood homes then on to San Francisco where our grandmother was born and raised.

Patricia remembers:

Mom and Dad instilled a love of nature, fitness, and the outdoors! My favorite memories are of our frequent hikes in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, rockhounding for fossils, tobogganing in the Jemez Mountains, and searching for Apache Tears in the Tent Rocks near Los Alamos. We cherished our camping trips in rented campers, where we enjoyed fishing, hiking, and cooking s’mores over open campfires. On weekends I loved riding on the back of the red motorcycle Dad built himself with parts he purchased from The Sears catalog. Our parents were industrious and could seemingly accomplish anything they put their minds to. They instilled that drive in us, as well. Summers were long and glorious, spent barefoot, always riding our bikes, climbing trees, playing dress up in our playhouse, making mud pies in the dirt, and creating art with supplies Mom always had on hand. Our annual trips to Denver to visit family were magical and solidified our Italian heritage with authentic meals prepared by Mom and her sisters with dozens of cousins playing underfoot. Yes, we have been very blessed indeed!

Karin recalls:

Mom and Dad made so many sacrifices for us. They supported our interests and taught us how to be self-sufficient. We had what we needed, but we were never indulged. Christmases were especially magical. Dad decorated the outside of the house while Mom managed the Christmas tree, baking, gift-wrapping, and meals—even during her final Christmas on Earth. Mom always required at least three days to finish with the tree lights and icicles…she did not want help; she was a perfectionist! All of our special days—Valentines, Easter, Thanksgiving, and birthdays were marked by unforgettable traditions created by our fabulous parents. The lessons for living provided by Mom and Dad will remain in our hearts forever.

Bob is predeceased by his wife, Millie Carelli Pogna, his parents John and Ethel Pogna, brother Jack Pogna, and his beloved dogs, including Angel, Abby, Laddie, Maggie Mae, and Cody. He is survived by his daughters; Kathleen Pogna Anderson, Patricia Pogna Mazzone, and Karin Pogna Johnson, son-in-law, Scott Johnson, grandchildren; Taylor Robert Mazzone (Erin Walters), Grayson Michael Mazzone (Erin Dutcher), Alexandra Mazzone Scarfone (Rocco), and three great-grandchildren; Roman, Pierce, and Elena Mazzone.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at FRENCH-Wyoming on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Rosary will be recited at 11:00 AM followed immediately by a prayer service. A private interment at Santa Fe National Cemetery will take place. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice. Bob’s family treasures the many friendships he had during his lifetime. Please visit our online guestbook for Bob at

Published by Albuquerque Journal on Jul. 3, 2022.

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