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Inventive veteran motivated by work, faith

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gtr-Worbois-040913 Robert J. Worbois
By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Thursday, May 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

In his 89 years, Robert J. Worbois acquired 22 patents, served in World War II and spent years volunteering as an international missionary.

Mr. Worbois, of North Huntingdon, died on Sunday, May 5, 2013.

He instilled “a good work ethic, No. 1,” said his son, Allen Worbois. “Once he got tied into a problem, you couldn't stop him. He would just stick with it until he figured it out.”

Mr. Worbois worked for 36 years at the former Westinghouse Air Brake, now Wabtec, in Wilmerding. A mechanical engineer, he held 22 patents for designs related to improving train air brakes.

“He made systems that made brakes stop more efficiently,” Allen Worbois said.

He traveled extensively for the company.

“He must have enjoyed (his work) because he retired at 65 and continued consulting,” his son said. “He went to work on his 86th birthday.”

During retirement, he and his wife worked as lay missionaries for Free Methodist Church in Taiwan for five years and in Tanzania for almost six months.

Mr. Worbois served during World War II in the 8th Air Force, 379th Bomber Group in Great Britain, as well as locations in the United States. A D-Day veteran, he served about 1 12 years in the military.

He was a graduate of the University of Rochester in New York and was a member of Gideons International, Penn Hills Free Methodist Church, Western Pennsylvania Wing of the 8th Air Force Historical Society, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, among other organizations.

Mr. Worbois was preceded in death by his wife, Lois E. Worbois, in 2009; and sons, John David Worbois, in 1971, and James Robert Worbois, 2008.

Surviving him are his three children and their spouses: Valerie Worbois (widow of James Worbois) of Carrollton, Texas; Cheryl McFadden and her husband, Danny, of Enid. Okla.; Susanne Sunnhuber and her husband, Tim, of Belleville, Ill., and Allen Worbois and his wife, Annette, of Hanson, Ky. He leaves behind 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in James W. Shirley Funeral Home, 176 Clay Pike, North Huntingdon, where a funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday. Interment will follow in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or

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