November 7, 2008
Most folks who’ve lived for a while in the Lakes Region have heard of Bob Kingsbury and know that he was a rifleman in the 94th Infantry Division under Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in World War II.
But fewer may know that he has patents for speedboat hulls and that former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a fraternity brother.
“To Robert P. Kingsbury/Best Wishes” reads a photograph dated March 13, 1948 signed by the G-man and featuring him, Kingsbury and other Alpha Phi Omega brothers from the University of Maryland, where Kingsbury earned a degree in animal husbandry.
The letter accompanying the photo was addressed to “Brother Kingsbury” and signed “Fraternally, J. Edgar Hoover.”
A former marketing supervisor with the B.F. Goodrich Co., Kingsbury later worked in the oil industry promoting a product to treat wastewater. When he stood up for a subordinate one day, Kingsbury was shown the door but word of his deed eventually led to an opportunity in Laconia.
As a resident of the City on the Lakes, Kingsbury has run for elected office 15 times in the past 17 years. Most recently, he was the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress in the First District, garnering 7,330 votes, or two percent of the statewide total.
“I don’t even remember what they are anymore,” said Kingsbury, who ran as a Republican for Laconia mayor twice, for both city council and state representatives as many as three times each and for state senate once.
He’s a champion of the Constitution and admires Abraham Lincoln, who Kingsbury noted recognized two different sets of checks and balances in the body politic.
There is the well-known balancing act between the judicial, executive and legislative branches, Kingsbury said, but there is also a similar relationship among the local, state and federal governments and “a lot of people don’t realize the overwhelming importance the local has.”
Kingsbury did not rule out future runs for elected office.
1. Full name? “People know you as …” Robert Philip Kingsbury.
2. Date & place of birth? May 5, 1926; Decatur, Ill.
3. Occupation? “Today it’s pretty much retired” although Kingsbury works part-time at Wal-Mart.
4. How long have you lived in the area? Since 1975.
5. Who was your most influential role model? “General Patton. He was famous or infamous for praying. In our chain of command he was the only officer who gave two hoots for the men serving in the lower ranks.”
6. Favorite place to go, favorite trip, favorite hike? “That’s hard to say.”
7. Favorite local business? Wal-Mart.
8. Favorite food? “I’m not sure… American.”
9. Favorite book? “I have about a thousand books and I like many of them,” including Roy P. Basler’s “Abraham Lincoln: His speeches and writing.”
10. Favorite movie? “Stagecoach” with John Wayne.
11. What do you waste your money on? “Not that I remember,” said Kingsbury, before citing the continued decrease in value of his retirement income.
12. What was the dumbest thing you ever did? “I’m going to take the Fifth Amendment. I don’t have to incriminate myself.”
13. What is your fondest memory? “I usually don’t think of things in that manner… probably having been a rifleman for Gen. Patton.”
14. What item that is no longer available would you like to see return? “I’d like to see the dollar regain its value,” said Kingsbury, who recalled a time when a $20 greenback could be exchanged for an ounce of gold and a three-bedroom house cost $1,080.
15. What do you think makes the Lakes Region a good place to live? “The people. The people who live here are the most outstanding people I’ve gotten to know even if they don’t vote for me.”
16. If you could change one thing about the Lakes Region, what would it be? “To have manufacturing return to Laconia. All well being for people comes from manufacturing.”
17. If you could change one thing about the state, nation, or world, what would it be? “I’d like to have the nation’s elected officials follow the Constitution.”
18. If you were to try any profession for a day, what would it be? “I’m happy with the profession I have — being retired.”
19. If you won the lottery, what would you do? “Build a boat. Here I live on a lake and I don’t have a boat.”
Kingsbury, who resides on Union Avenue, is about a half-mile away from the nearest lake and he has built boats already. His apartment contains three large models of futuristic-looking powerboats. Kingsbury has several patents for speedboat hull designs. “Nobody’s ever thought of an airplane tail on a fast boat,” he said. “I’m the first one who’s thought of it.”
20. What would you like to be remembered for? “Putting one foot in front of another no matter what.”
Bob Kingsbury is a CNHT director and a national treasure.