Robert P. Nugent, Soldier, Collector Extraordinaire: born Yonkers, New York in 1910; married to Peggy and father of daughter Sandi; died January 4, 1996.
In 1932 he met a young lady whilst out walking his dog; the following year they became man and wife, and so began a partnership which lasted for 62 years. Bob was never a man to “let the grass grow under his feet” as the saying goes! Bob was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1942, and served until 1946. He was recalled from the Reserve in 1950 and retired as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1966, having served in the Pacific arena and in Germany.
On his retirement he started collecting agricultural tools and implements, some of which were not small. When the available space, which included a large barn, had been filled, Peg suggested that collecting smaller items would be more practical. About that time he realized that corkscrews are fascinating things and of great variety, and so began his unique collection.
In 1977, the Constitution of the ICCA was amended to allow the maximum number of members to rise from 30 to 50, and Bob was one of those fortunate to be invited to join. It became evident very soon thereafter that an expert had joined the ranks; an expert of rare companionship as well as corkscrew knowledge. Bob amassed a vast amount of documentary data about corkscrews, and if he was unable to answer a question on the subject, which was rare, he knew immediately where to find the answer. Indeed, with his much-used photocopier he could supply the evidence on paper! He undertook an immense amount of original research, the results of which he shared freely with others and from which so many of us benefited
He covered many miles in his searches for pieces, and with Peg always was most pleased to have the company of fellow collectors, not least to spot the very occasional ‘Antiques’ sign or flag missed by him whilst concentrating on his driving. There was an occasion on a ‘hunting trip’ when he picked up a piece and asked the price. The proprietor asked where he had found it, to which Bob replied ‘in a cardboard box just inside the door’; the reply was that anything there was one dollar. He bought the piece; it was a Dickson’s 1870 Patent ratchet, perfect apart from the loss of a few millimetres from the end of the screw. As he had another specimen in his collection, he sold it to me – for one dollar, of course.
On the theme of stories, one recalls the 1987 Tuscany meeting. Whilst in Perugia. several of us went into a small restaurant for lunch. The menu was in Italian, and Bob proceeded to translate it for us. We all ordered vegetable soup as a starter, five in English, Bob in his ‘best’ Italian. When Bob’s ‘soup’ arrived it proved to be a plate of ‘trotters’ (pigs’ feet), which Peg told us later that he hated, but which he had felt obliged to eat with feigned enjoyment.
It was in that eventful year of 1977 that Elsa and I, over a table at the Park Royal Brewery of Guinness, met Bob and Peg and established an ever deepening friendship, which always we will cherish. Doubtless this has been the experience of many members of the ICCA, and of the CCCC. Often Bob said that he appreciated the friendship of members even more than corkscrews themselves, and that’s saying a lot! I am sure, however, that many of us can say the same of Bob.
Excerpted from the “Obituary of Robert P. Nugent” by: Dr. David Bradshaw – Try Right
From left to right: Brother Timothy, Don Minzenmayer, Dr. Elsa Bradshaw, Dr. David Bradshaw and Bob Nugent
Here are some comments excerpted from the obituaries written by those who knew Bob well and had the benefit of his knowledge and passion for corkscrews.
By: Joe Paradi
I first met Bob Nugent at a JFO meeting in Fort Myers, Florida. This first meeting was absolutely typical how Bob met and treated people. He and Peg immediately adopted me, a newcomer, to JFO and they introduced me to others, they accompanied me on corkscrew hunts, explained the way JFO worked and Bob answered all of my many questions with patience and precision. Thus started a great friendship.
I miss Bob terribly, he touched my life in a way few others have. I have many anecdotes about Bob and Peggy and many, many memories. I am glad that I have taken so many photographs at our many meetings so that I can now go back and reminisce about Bob, a special friend. Personally, I can only say that I hope that there will be others in my life who has the open mind, the sharpness and wit, the friendliness and willingness to help, the ability to relate to anyone as Bob had. Bob was special, let me quote a paragraph from his letter welcoming me into the ICCA:
“CONGRATULATIONS AND WELCOME ABOARD! We were overjoyed last night when we learned from Perry that you are now a fellow member of ICCA. Now you will be able to join us in Italy and meet a lot more screwy people. I know that both you and the ICCA membership will gain from this worthwhile addition to our membership”
Bob was also a strong minded person, he was willing to be controversial when he felt the need. But he was always fair minded and even when he had to do something difficult, he was not resented because he was right. For example, he was the first Right who began the process of revitalizing the ICCA. He started to replace members who were no longer interested in the ICCA and he brought in people who were willing to make contributions to us all.
Bob was never one to shirk responsibility and he valued others who were willing to make the effort to contribute. His way to show others that criticism without the offer of help was not welcome was to ask: “Do I hear a volunteer?”, and of course, most would then stop complaining. I miss him terribly.
It was the year 1987 when I first visited Bob and Peg and also the year when they visited us in Toronto. This was memorable in many ways. I was collecting by then for some 7 years, but my real addiction began in 1985 at my first (and the CCCC’s first) Annual Meeting. Naturally, I was very hungry for information and wanted to learn. Bob was not only very knowledgeable by then, but had the patience and grace to help me in many ways. As always, Bob and Peg were there for all of us, I remember the times I spent in the bus isles standing beside Bob’s seat asking him questions and he answered patiently. But he was not only answering questions, he continually asked and researched everything – he had a life-long learning attitude. Bob loved “show-‘n-tell” sessions where he could show us something quite different and new and tell us about the research findings he collected.
Participation was Bob’s middle name (Robert “Participation” Nugent ) his initials were RPN which he had on his license plate also. This ageless, energetic member of the corkscrew world will not be forgotten by those of us who had the privilege of knowing him.
By: Brother Timothy Diener – Start Right
Bob’s interest in corkscrews and knives, especially knives with corkscrews, added spice to his life, motivated him to become a collector, and later a member of the ICCA, CCCC and NCCA. To know what Bob said of himself read the foreword to his 1987 “Knives With Corkscrews” book. Bob won the 1987 Homer Babbidge Award for “Knives With Corkscrews”, an original, illustrated 31 page report of his research work.
Indicating the respect and confidence other ICCA members had in Bob, he was elected Right in 1983 at the Royal Yacht Club, on the Isle of Wight, England, during the annual meeting. He was re-elected in 1984 at the ICCA annual meeting in Tours, France. After two very successful years in office, Bob submitted his resignation, as Right, and thereafter became known as Nu-Right. Bob collected many valuable and unique corkscrews, but none more valuable or more nearly unique than Bob himself. He was enthusiastic, studious and scholarly, as well as disciplined, even tempered and always ready to help someone with their questions or problems. Naturally he had lots of friends, and I never heard of an enemy.
By: Ron MacLean – CAN(e) Right
I first met Bob, with Peggy at his side, at 9:00 Saturday morning on April 24, 1983 at a “Just for Openers” Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were seated at a table surrounded by corkscrews, can openers and crown cap lifters. It seemed we spent most of that afternoon talking corkscrews. I was not aware that he was a member of the ICCA and to become Right in October.
Over the next 13 years we developed a close friendship. We were constantly in touch with weekly letters and an occasional telephone call to discuss, describe and communicate our latest finds. I regarded Bob as my mentor, there could be no better master.
Each time I went to visit Bob & Peggy I always dreaded the long and lonely drive to New Hampshire but it was soon forgotten upon arriving. The time spent on each visit just flew by as we repeatedly reviewed his collection and perused old catalogues and corkscrew documentation.
Bob was understanding, tolerant and always ready to help in identification of a new acquisition. He answered questions promptly, often with a much appreciated follow up. Bob’s views were sought by many, he would first listen to different opinions and then quietly state his own view, which often proved correct! Bob’s knowledge was respected by all.
He was definitive, loved accuracy and collected with a passion. He always compiled informative Best Six presentations and tried to feature items that had not been illustrated previously in an ICCA Best Six. With Peggy he never missed an ICCA or CCCC Annual General Meeting.
Bob was perhaps happiest when pursuing the elusive “scrue”. The rest of us had a difficult time keeping up as he relentlessly searched for his “next great find”.
He was a very special man. Those lucky enough to know him can attest to his love of life, his wit and his wisdom. His contribution to the world of corkscrew collecting was enormous. Not only did he generate much valuable information he was also a fountain of knowledge that kept the rest of us right!
When Peggy and Bob last visited us in November, 1995 we had a wonderful time. We spent time on an upcoming article on Clough, went to an outdoor antique show & shops and even visited a private tool museum which included a corkscrew display. Believe me it was all I could do to keep up with them. Who was to guess it would be our last meeting?
I am sure if there are any corkscrews in Heaven, Bob is aware of them and is hot on their trail and has possibly already formed a group of Angelic Addicts.
By: Don Bull – Mirth Right
It is the second Monday of the New Year and I am snowbound at home. Winter looks mighty fierce this year. This morning I looked at all of my corkscrews. I feel quite privileged to own a portion of Bob Nugent’s passion for corkscrews. It was a Great Event in which Joe Paradi, AIf Erickson and I divided up his collection that we purchased only a few months ago.
Bob was an inspiration to us all. How many of us will still be on a relentless search for more corkscrews for our collections when we are in our eighties? How many of us can ever hope to gain as much corkscrew knowledge as Bob had? That knowledge which he so freely shared with those who had a thirst for it.
Bob became a member of the ICCA in 1977. He was elected Right in the year 1983 and retired as Nu-Right after his second term. Bob attended every AGM (Peg was always there by his side!). He never missed sending a most informative Best Six. When Corkscrew Folklore tales are told 10, 50 or 100 years from now, I’m sure Bob Nugent’s name will be heard. We will not forget you Bob!
Bob and Peggy
Bob takes two glasses, one for Peg
A lesson to a newcomer
And again, the sweethearts
Always the teacher
The two legends (Bob and Perry Howland)
Claude, Bob and Peggy in London
David, Bob and Peg
Monika Paradi with the Nugents
Bob and one of his “loves” Susie
David Bradshaw, Evan Perry and the Nugents
And Bob took pictures as well
Bob’s beloved “Show-n-tell”
Evan Perry and Bob at work
Bob and Brother Tim