Chief Petty Officer Robert Bruce Pinnell, U.S.Navy, Retired, age 66 years of Niles, Michigan; husband, father, proud Papa, honorable veteran, double-lung-transplant survivor, and devout follower of Jesus Christ died peacefully Saturday evening, April 22, 2023 with his family gathered around at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan following a brief illness. His family is grateful for the care of the hospital staff both in Niles and Ann Arbor, and for the organ donor family who gave Bruce an additional ten years of life.
He was born on May 8, 1956 in Atlanta, Georgia to Julius Herman and Miriam Otis (Powledge) Pinnell and was graduated from Roswell (Georgia) High School. He continued his education at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta before enlisting in the United States Navy. His natural aptitude for mathematics allowed him to learn sophisticated weapons systems and advance through the Navy’s Fire Control ratings. His list of decorations and citations include two Navy Achievement Medals, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, two Battle Efficiency “E” Ribbons, as well as expeditionary medals, sea service deployment ribbons, and many other awards. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, served on the USS Mount Baker (AE-34), and retired after 21 years and 1 month of honorable service.
Upon retirement, he completed his Bachelor’s degree at Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, and was employed in the technology sector in and around Atlanta. In 2007 he came to Niles, and was employed for many years at Adams Remco in South Bend, Indiana.
Bruce was an active member, deacon, and greeter of the Hopewell Baptist Church in Canton, Georgia, and has been an active member of the Community Evangelical Free Church in Niles. He began playing sports in high school, and declared himself a “sports fanatic” with a special interest in the Atlanta Braves baseball team, the Atlanta Falcons football team, and the “Ramblin’ Wreck” of Georgia Tech. He was also a fan of NASCAR, cheering-on Mr. William Clyde “Bill” Elliott, and his son, “Chase” Elliott. His fascination with all sports served well during long hospital stays, as he could always find some televised event to watch, including most recently women’s softball . . . in Japan.
He began camping with his family and friends from Hopewell church and has continued to enjoy outdoor activities here – up-north – in Michigan, including maintaining his family’s property and his wife’s garden with his Farmall tractor. He liked to watch the wildlife, but his greatest joy was watching his grandchildren playing on the property.
He was first married to the former Debbie Parker. Shortly after retirement from the Navy, he met the former Lorie Ann Marrison who he married in a ceremony on the beach in Kauai, Hawaii on October 27, 1998. They celebrated last year the twenty-fourth anniversary of their marriage.
Surviving family includes his wife, Lorie Pinnell; children Robert P. “Parker” (& Kathryn) Pinnell of Virginia beach, Virginia, Sherry Hamrick of Jasper, Georgia, Sara Pinnell of Buchanan, Michigan, Kerry Pinnell of Dowagiac, Michigan and her twin, Jerry Hicks of Covert, Michigan, and Kelsey Pinnell of Monesson, Pennsylvania; a “baker’s dozen” of 13 grandchildren: Julian Harmon, Izabella Pinnell, Miriam Pinnell, Evan Pinnell, Ellie Hamrick, R.J. Pinnell, Madeline Pinnell, Beau Pinnell, Emmie Hamrick, Jenesis Hicks, Malachi Murphy, Jerry Hicks, and Alexzander Pinnell-Granger; Bruce’s siblings, Miriam “Diane” Pinnell of Seattle, Washington, and Russell Pinnell of Georgia; several nieces and nephews; and wonderful circle of great friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and by a brother, William Pinnell.
The funeral service for Bruce Pinnell will be at Noon on Friday, April 28, 2023 at the Community Evangelical Free Church, 120 East Bertrand Road, south of Niles with Pastor Matthew A. Hickok of the church and Pastor Roland M. Ellis III of Saint Matthew Missionary Baptist Church in Buchanan officiating. The service will conclude with a walk outside to witness the Full Military Honors for CPO R. Bruce Pinnell, U.S.Navy, Ret’d by the United States Navy Honor Guard assisted by American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan. The services will be available online on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page at http:// https://www.facebook.com/halbritterwickensfuneralservices/ .
The family will receive relatives and friends on Friday at the church beginning at 10:00 a.m. Contributions in memory of Bruce may be made to the Gift of Life Michigan Foundation, 3861 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108; https://giftoflifemichigan.org/foundation/make-a-contribution . Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online condolences may be left at:
Bruce’s life was clearly a life of service to others, his military record being the most obvious, but he served his employers well, served his churches, loved serving his family – especially his grandchildren - and above all loved Lorie; all a testimony to his desire to love God and love people.