Robert William Garrett, 84, of Columbia passed away Tuesday, July 2, 2019, at his home with his wife of 61 years and other relatives nearby.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at Memorial Funeral Home. There will be a time of visitation at the funeral home following the service. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery and will be private for the family.

Robert was born Dec. 1, 1934, in Columbia to Lee O. and Ethel Coats Garrett, who preceded him in death. He was a graduate of Hickman High School and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1957 with a B.S. in electrical engineering and an Air Force commission. He then worked at the Bureau of Reclamation in Denver as an E.E. until May 1958, when he was called up for active duty in the Air Force.

Robert and his high school sweetheart, Leslie Flynn of Columbia, were married June 14, 1958, at the Harlingen Air Force Base chapel in Texas, where he was assigned. During the next five years, he and Leslie lived in Harlingen and Biloxi, Mississippi, and spent 3 years at Yakota AFB, Japan, where Robert served as an Electronic Warfare Officer/Navigator. In 1963, they moved to the Cape Kennedy, Florida, area where Robert worked as an AF Operations Research Analyst.

Robert later worked for System Development Corp. in Florida, D.C. and California before moving to the Washington, D.C., area, where they lived for the next 19 years in Maryland and Virginia. In 1972, he was hired by the U.S. House of Representatives to manage the checkout and operation of the original Electronic Voting System for the House. He subsequently managed the development and operation of all the computer systems that supported the legislative process of the House of Representatives until his retirement in 1990. He designed and installed the drivers for the main displays showing member votes.

In 1991, Robert and Leslie returned to Columbia to help his widowed father, who was in frail health. He was active in retirement, volunteering as a tax aide and counselor for the AARP-Tax Aide from 1993 to 2012 and was also a volunteer at the Boone Hospital Center and a frequent blood and platelet donor for the Red Cross. He was a prior president of the Show-Me Cosmo Club and a life member of the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Robert brightened the lives of his friends and family with his sense of humor and creativity. Robert and Leslie enjoyed traveling together and visited 49 states and 10 countries. Additionally, Robert was in other countries during his Air Force years. He will be missed by many, especially his cherished wife and family members.

Robert is survived by his wife, Leslie, and two of Leslie’s three siblings, whom he counted as his own, having known them since they were ages 2 to 12. They are Matt Flynn and wife Judith of Kansas City and Tim Flynn and wife Jane of Columbia. Other survivors include four nieces and two nephews; one uncle, Russell Coats of Columbia; plus many cousins. His beloved sister-in-law, Michael Elizabeth Flynn-Basler, preceded him in death in November 2018, but her husband, Jerry Basler, will be with the family.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army, your local Humane Society or to the choice of the donor. Condolences may be left online for the family at

  • Fall 2019 public life reporter. I am a senior studying international journalism and Spanish.

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