Saturday, December 2, 2017

Robert Oswald dead at 83

By DALE K. MYERS

Robert Oswald, brother of accused presidential assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, is dead at the age of 83.

Oswald, who passed away on November 27, 2017, was buried in a private ceremony earlier this week. The announcement came yesterday.

Born Robert Edward Lee Oswald in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 7, 1934 to Robert Edward Lee Oswald, Sr., and Marguerite Frances Claverie, Robert spent his youth in Louisiana with his brothers Lee and John Pic before joining the Marine Corps in 1952 at age 18.

He proudly served his country as a Marine in the Korean War. Upon returning from Korea, he met and married Veda Mercer on November 21, 1956 in Ft. Worth, Texas. He earned his degree in Business Management from Midwestern State University in 1970 and was a member of the Faith Village Church of Christ.

On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, Robert was working as a sales coordinator for Acme Brick in Denton, Texas, when he heard his name called as he passed the receptionist’s desk. She had her radio on. He heard the announcer say his name again, this time repeating the full name – “Lee Harvey Oswald.”

“That’s my kid brother,” he said to the receptionist, stunned.

Thus, began one of the most agonizing chapters of his life – being thrust into the center of one of the greatest national nightmares of the twentieth century.

Robert hadn’t seen his brother for a year and hadn’t heard from him in about eight months when he visited him briefly in the jail visiting room on Saturday, November 23.

“Lee, what the Sam Hill is going on?” he asked his brother, astonished at how completely relaxed he was, as if the events of the previous day had nothing to do with him.

“I don’t know,” Lee answered.

“You don’t know?” Robert replied, disbelieving. “Look, they’ve got your pistol, they’ve got your rifle, they’ve got you charged with shooting the president and a police officer. And you tell me you don’t know? Now, I want to know just what’s going on.”

“Don’t believe all this so-called evidence,” Lee replied, brushing his brother’s inquiry off.

Robert studied his face, then his eyes, looking for some expression of the truth. Lee realized what his brother wanted.

“Brother, you won’t find anything there,” Lee said.

Robert thought that his brother might tell him the truth. Robert believed he was closer to Lee than anyone else in a lot of ways. But, the man behind the jail room glass was disturbingly machine-like, unnaturally detached from the predicament he found himself in whether innocent or guilty. To Robert, the man in jail was a stranger to him.

When Robert heard that cabdriver William W. Scoggins had told authorities that the man he identified as Lee Harvey Oswald had muttered “poor damn cop” or “poor dumb cop” as he fled the scene of the murder of Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippit, Robert flashed back to an earlier incident.

Robert had been stopped by police after running a traffic light, fearful that a tailgater would have hit him had he stopped quick. The officer was unsympathetic as he listened to Robert’s explanation, and wrote him a citation. Robert’s kid brother, Lee was in the passenger seat. As they pulled away from the curb, Lee looked back over his shoulder and said, “That dumb cop!” The recollection left Robert with a disturbing feeling.

Mr. Oswald had been interviewed many times for various television programs over the years. He often said he believed the findings of most experts that his brother acted alone in killing the president.

“This is mind over heart,” Oswald once told ABC News. “The mind tells me one thing, the heart tells me something else, but the facts are there.”

“After all these years,” he said, “and we’re talking about a long time, I think more than anything else, if I had an opportunity and had the facts that said Lee was innocent, I would be out there shouting it loud and clear.

“It is my belief, my conviction, no one but Lee was involved - period.

“People need to look at what transpired before [the assassination]. Everything – you’ve got to come all the way from childhood on up and especially that last year of his life, and understand what transpired in his life. He was a lonely boy, needing attention but not getting it.

“[In 1963], he had problems at home, he had problems on his job, he was completely frustrated about what was going on around him. This is not excusing what he did, this is understanding what he did. He wanted to be somebody and this opportunity came about coincidental. Nothing planned. Nothing organized. It happened that way. It’s one of those happenstances of history.”

Robert didn’t believe there was a conspiracy.

“The conspiracy was in the mind of Lee Oswald,” he said.

Shortly after the 2003 broadcast of ABC News’ Peter Jennings Reporting: The Kennedy Assassination – Beyond Conspiracy, Robert Oswald telephoned and told me that had he known ABC was going to air the computer animated sequences I had produced, he would have given up his interview time so that the audience could see more of what I had done.

I was stunned. Stunned and grateful that he had taken the time to look me up and tell me personally how he felt about my work, particularly since it concerned what had to be one of the darkest days of his own life. That telephone call said a lot about his character.

I assured him that the audience needed to hear what he had to say about his brother and thanked him for his call.

“Next time you’re down this way, come by,” he said. “We’ll go out and get a hamburger.”

I could tell he really meant it. That’s what I thought about when I heard of his passing – may he rest in peace.

He is survived by his wife Vada, daughter Cathy and her husband Dean Barrett, and his son Robert Oswald and wife Linda. He had four grandchildren, Brooke and her husband William Hamilton, David Barrett, Elizabeth Barrett, and Trey Oswald, as well as two great grandchildren, Willa Barrett and Hayden Hamilton.

Sources: Dallas Morning News, Times Record News, ABC News, Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, and Robert L. Oswald's Lee

3 comments:

Barry Ryder said...

Dale,

very sad news. My thoughts and condolences go to his entire family.

Robert always came across very well in the many interviews that he gave over the years. He always struck me as a sincere and honest man.

He handled his predicament with great dignity and restraint. He was able to do something quite extraordinary; he was able to evaluate the evidence against his brother dispassionately and, somehow, he managed to subdue his instinctive, fraternal 'defence mechanism' and accept that Lee had murdered two men. Not many brothers would have been able to do that, I don't think.

The book that he wrote provides many unique insights into his brother's life and is required reading for those who seek to get a fuller picture of Lee Oswald.

I was unaware that Robert had contacted you after seeing your segment on the Peter Jennings documentary. Again, this is the mark of a decent and honest man. He need not have said anything but, he chose to congratulate you and praise your work - work that re-enforced the case against his deceased brother. It takes a big guy to do that.

Robert - and his family - bore their burden with great dignity and refused to change their family name or move away from their homes. They were all very courageous.

Over the years it would have been very easy for Robert to have jumped on the conspiracy bandwagon. He would have had more credibility than Marguerite and his, calm, measured personality would have added huge force to the movement. He never did, of course. He knew that his brother was the murderer. He remained committed to the truth, no matter how much it must have hurt.

He was a fine man.

Barry Ryder
(London)

General Burkhalter said...

Cursed in life with a murderous brother and a crazy mother, hopefully Robert can finally find peace.....Rest in Peace Robert.

Paul C. said...

Thank you for noting this, Dale. In contrast to the parade of bizarre characters at the center of this circus, Mr. Oswald always seemed to be one of the most human and one of the most relatable.

I hope the minimal press coverage of his passing has been some comfort to his family.