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Robert S. Prentiss of Connecticut

Do you have the new PRENTICE eBook?
Robert S. Prentiss of Connecticut
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Summer 2005 and Revised 14 Sep 2011

Update of 14 Sep 2011: Although additional confirmation is needed, Robert S. Prentiss is probably Robert Swayne Prentiss who is #4.8(i)(a)(2) in our Stephen-3 eBook. That book now replaces this article.
Introduction: The following information is taken from census records, from an obituary published in about 6 newspapers, including the Daily Courier Newspaper of Connellsville, PA, and from information provided by email from Dan Becnel and Bob Prentiss:

1. Robert S. Prentiss. His family situation is somewhat muddled He seems not to appear in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census. Later census records give conflicting information:

1880	b. c. 1841	CT	Wife called Madeline C., b. c. 1852, NY.  No children shown.
1900	b. Nov  1844	CT	Wife called Ella
1910	b. c. 1841	CT	Wife called Ella (Forfrey), b. May 1866, NY.  Called a Physician.

Children of Robert S. Prentiss:

  1. Florence J. Prentiss, b. Apr 1884, NY (per 1900 census).
  2. Henry M. Prentiss, b. Apr 1890, NY. . . . . . . . [2]

In the 1900 census Ella Forfrey's mother, Melissa Forfrey, b. Sep 1838, TN, was living with them.

2. Henry M. Prentiss was b. c. 1892, NY (per 1900 census), perhaps New York City where his father was a Physician. Henry was an Episcopal minister who served as chaplain and dean of students at Valley Forge Military Academy.

He m. Jeanne H., b. c. 1898, NY (both parents b. in NY). They appear in the 1930 census in Easton, Northampton Co., PA with their son:

  1. Robert S. Prentice, b. c. 1922, NJ. . . . . . . [3]

3. Robert Swayne Prentiss was b. c. 1922, NJ, and d. 23 Mar 2005, Point Breeze, of complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was an accomplished journalist and crime reporter who wrote for the Stars and Stripes, the Bridgeport Herald and the New York Mirror before starting a career in public relations that included Lever Brothers, Ketchum McLeod and Grove and his own firm, the Robert Prentiss Agency. In retirement, he was the creator of Bobby's Mental Gym: A Health Club for Your Brain.

Funeral services were at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Calvary Episcopal Church. A reception followed in the parish house. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested memorial contributions to the Calvary Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, the Rutgers University Class of 1946 Alumni Fund or Community Life, Homestead. Arrangements by McCabe Bros., Inc.

By email of 26 Jan 2006 Bob Prentiss has provided us with the following article by Jerry Vondas in the "Tribute-Review" of 25 Mar 2005:

    Robert Swayne Prentiss, of Point Breeze, died of Alzheimer's disease on Wednesday, March 23, 2005, at Seneca Place, Penn Hills. He was 83.

    Bob Prentiss' newspaper career began in foxholes in Europe during World War II. Mr. Prentiss, who had studied journalism at Rutgers University, was a decorated rifleman with the 1st Infantry Division when he had the chance to become a reporter with the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes. "It was a relief for Bob to be able to leave the front lines where the heat of battle was so intense that the trunks of the trees were exploding and killing and maiming many of the GIs," said his wife, Susan Prentiss.

    Following his discharge in 1946, Mr. Prentiss returned to Rutgers University to continue his studies. He became editor of the university newspaper and received his degree in journalism. In 1947, Mr. Prentiss was hired as a police and crime reporter for the Bridgeport Herald in Connecticut. He later worked at the New York Mirror.

    It was while living and working in New York City that he decided to enter the field of public relations and advertising. "Bob was employed by Lever Brothers and was involved when they first introduced Dove soap," his wife said. In 1960, Mr. Prentiss joined the Washington, D.C., office of Ketchum McCleod and Grove (KMG) and was transferred to the Pittsburgh headquarters in 1962.

    In 1986, Mr. Prentiss married [as his 2nd wife] Susan Haas, a fund-raiser for the Easter Seals Society. "Easter Seals was one of Froggy's (restaurant) charities that Bob was involved with," she said. "I found Bob to be a warm and gentle man who had a lot of energy when we first met. "Bob was always looking for new challenges. He was also interested in improving his mind. In 1985, he organized Bobby's Mental Gym, a health club for the brain that involved mental exercises that he devised. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was one of his clients."

    Mr. Prentiss was an active member of Calvary Episcopal Church in East Liberty. "His involvement with the Episcopal Church," his wife said, "dates back to his father, an Episcopal minister who served as chaplain and dean of students at Valley Forge Military Academy, where Bob graduated in 1939." Robert McCully, who was also employed by KMG, said Mr. Prentiss was well-suited for public relations and advertising work. "Bob had the two attributes that are vital in this business: He knew the business and was well-liked."

    McCully said Mr. Prentiss was successful when he left KMG and began his own business, The Robert Prentiss Agency. "The Republican Committee of Allegheny County was one of his first clients. He also did very well with restaurants. Two of his bigger accounts were the Hyeholde (Moon) and Froggy's (Downtown)."

    Mr. Prentiss is survived by his wife, Susan Marie Prentiss; three stepchildren, Elizabeth Marie Exler, of Crafton, Sarah Henderson Nordby, of Minneapolis, and Eric James Nordby, of San Francisco; and two stepgrandchildren, Marin Elizabeth and Eleanora Marie Exler.

    Family and friends are invited to the Prentiss home at 6 p.m. Monday. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Calvary Episcopal Church, Shady Avenue, East Liberty. A reception will follow in the parish house.

Bob Prentiss also provided us with the Homily by Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis at the Requiem Mass for Robert Swayne Prentiss. It read, in part, as follows:

    "...Bob Prentiss fully believed in Jesus' promise, "You shall have life and shall have it abundantly." Quality of life was important to him, and that is why he made clear in his final days, through his words and his actions, that he wished to die with dignity, and he got his wish. When people are debilitated and infirm, or, as in Bob's case, affected by the ravages of Alzheimer's, we have a tendency to write them off, dismiss them. Because there ability to communicate is diminished, we mistakenly feel that they are incapable of thinking or understanding. Au contraire! Until very near the end, the functioning parts of his brain were in full gear, and Bob knew what he wanted."

    "This should not surprise us. Bob, after all, had founded "Bobby's Gym," officially known as the Robert Swane Prentiss Mental Gymnasium, "where," according to its brochure, "you exercise your thinking skills to achieve increased productivity." This should not be surprising for the author of Success Through Brain Power. In that book, in a chapter on speaking, Bob gives this advice (which I might borrow the next time I teach a class to prospective preachers): "Be assured that no one will ask any more of you than that you speak the truth, know what you are talking about, and that you speak your piece directly and cogently." The amazing thing is that Bob Prentiss was able to achieve this goal even when his speech was reduced to guttural gurgles. His piercing eyes and his winsome smile spoke volumes."

    "Bob died not only with dignity, but with grace, a grace that was always a characteristic of his life. I remember a particular visit when I brought communion to him and Suzie on Linden Avenue. It was a warm day, and we sat on the patio. Bob's eyes twinkled as he pointed out the memories recorded in his scrap book, especially memorabilia about his service in World War II. He received the sacrament gratefully, and thanked me warmly for coming. If he felt any frustration at his diminished capacities, they were not at all evident. Even the casual observer could see in Robert Prentiss the marks of a gracious host and a Christian gentleman."

    "...Tomorrow, we shall immure the earthly remains of Robert Swayne Prentiss in Calvary's columbarium, where several members of Calvary, including the Rector, have reserved space in our little "celestial condo." It is only a few yards from Calvary's magnificent font, where three days ago, on Easter Even, Bob's granddaughter, Eleanora Marie, was baptized."

    " In Bob's file, I came across a rather interesting document, called a "Certificate of Dismission." It was issued by First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, when Bob decided in 1987 to return to his Episcopal roots. (His father, an Episcopal priest, and an education at Valley Forge Military Academy had clearly left their mark!) The certificate states that Bob was, "at his own request . . . dismissed and affectionately recommended to the Christian care and fellowship of Calvary Episcopal Church." Having given him, to the best of our ability, that care and fellowship, we now dismiss Bob again, but this time to the care of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls, and into the fellowship of the saints of light."

Robert Swayne Prentice m. 1st. Gloria Morelli. She was b. 23 Sep 1925, perhaps in NJ where she obtained her SS# (per SSDI) and d. 21 Nov 1998 at the Hospice Center in West Palm Beach, Fl, of cancer. The SSDI gives her last residence as Jupiter, Palm Beach Co., FL. Her obit. appears in the 23 Nov 1998 Palm Beach Post. Son:

  1. Michael S. Prentiss was perhaps b. 1950. . . . . . . [2]

Robert m. 2nd Susan Marie Haas who had the following children by her prior marriage:

  1. Elizabeth Marie Exler, stepdaughter, of Crafton. Children:
    1. Marin Elizabeth Exler
    2. Eleanora Marie Exler.
  2. Sarah Henderson Nordby, stepdaughter, of Minneapolis.
  3. Erik James Nordby, stepson, of San Francisco.

2. Michael S. Prentiss was perhaps b. 1950. He m. Kathleen. Sons:

  1. Benjamin Prentiss, b. 11 Jan 1970. Lived in Pittsburgh. By email of 24 Jan 2006, Dan Becnal directed our attention to a Wikipedia article about him which can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamal_Morelli . It reads as follows:

      Jamal Morelli (born Benjamin Prentiss - January 11, 1970) is the writer/director of "Night, Trance and Dawn" a short sexual neo-noir film, produced by the New York Film Academy, which explores allegiances to esoteric North African healing cults as well as a corresponding monomaniacal power grabbing in the healing arts. (This film may have been based on an aborted collaboration with Essourian Gnawa musician Ma'alim Mokhtar Guinea and his sister, the shaman Zaida Guinea) Jamal Morelli currently lives in Fes, Morocco where he is shooting a feature-length version of "Night, Trance and Dawn"

      The passion for Moroccan culture and language extended into bringing the first ever specifically Moroccan Arabic dialect lessons to New Orleans, Louisiana.

      After fighting in Golden Gloves in 1991, Jamal Morelli made a living as an avant-garde musican in New Orleans. Becoming Creative Director of Barakbeat Studios in New Orleans in 2001, he completed multimedia projects as varied as Fellowship of Isis founder Lady Olivia Robertson's guided meditations, sufi-style bellydancer Petite Jamilla's Middle Eastern Dance; shooting, editing, and animation for Classical Hindu and Jazz performance (Ajoy Chakrabarty and Tony Dagradi in New Orleans) as well as Alternative Medicine television shows, such as LSU Doctor Henri Roca's Art of Healing. The years of political activism (1999-2002) involving the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, the doomed Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers resulted in a strange bifurcation of Jamal Morelli's art and religious (Islamic sufi) thinking. He left Barakbeat Studios to start Shamharush Studios and Morelli Music which are currently operational in Fes, Morocco and seasonally in Manchester, United Kingdom.

  2. Jesse Prentiss who m. Anita. Lived in Pittsburgh. They have a daughter, Cassandra Morelli Prentiss, b. 8 Jun 2005. Wikipedia also provided the following information about Jesse:

      ". . . Recently, Pittsburgh has gained a reputation for its large indie rock scene. Several notable indie rock bands have come from Pittsburgh in recent years, including Rusted Root, Don Caballero, and punk rock band Anti-Flag. Some of these bands have ventured into film scoring and video, such as Jesse Prentiss and Jamal Morelli's "Ritual Space Travel Agency" and Ben Opie's "Watershed"."

Who are Robert S. Prentiss' Parents?

Census records establish that Robert was b. at some date between 1840 and 1844 in CT, with both parents b. in CT. Curiously, he seems not to appear in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 census.

A review of the 1840 census shows the following Prentiss families in CT:

  1. Amasa Prentiss, Middletown Ward 1, Middlesex, CT. For more about him, see our Summer 1999 Issue . We can probably exclude him as Robert's father since Amasa does appear in the 1850 and 1860 census with no son named Robert.

  2. Daniel Prentiss, Washington, Litchfield, CT. Daniel and his wife were 30-40 years old with 3 children; the youngest was a daughter under 5 years old. He appears in our Valentine-3 Prentice eBook, b. 23 Jul 1802, son of Sherman Prentice and Susanna Richards. We can probably exclude him as Robert's father since Daniel does appear in the 1850 census with no son named Robert.

  3. Theodore P. Prentiss, Canaan, Litchfield, CT. He was 20-30 and unmarried. He was Theodore Parmelee Prentice, b. 23 Jun 1815. He m. Sarah S. Hoskins on 31 Oct 1841 and d. 1846 in S, Canaan, CT. We show only a daughter, Ellen, b. 4 Jul 1843 in MA. He is #122 in our Valentine-3 eBook. He d. in 1846. After Theodore's death in 1846, Sarah went to live with her parents where she appear in the 1850 census with her daughter, Ellen. If there a son, Robert, it seem more likely than not that Robert would also have been living with Ellen in 1850.

  4. Walker Prentiss, Goshen, Litchfield, CT. He was then 50-60, married, with only 1 daughter, age 15-20. He appears in our Valentine-3 Prentice eBook as b. 1784 in CT, son of Amaziah Prentice and Betsey Root. We do not show any other children for him. He does not appear in the 1850 or 1860 census.

Of the foregoing Prentiss families, the most likely parents for Robert S. Prentiss are Walker Prentiss and Betsey Root. However, there might be 1 or more other Prentiss families in CT not appearing in the 1840 census. It might also be that the census taker spelled the surname as Prentice rather than Prentiss and there were some 200 Prentice families.

The best hope for solving the problem is to locate Robert's marriage, death and burial record which may identify his parents.

Investigation is continuing.

If you have any information about the folks mentioned in this article, please send your information to us at the Prentice Newsletter. Be sure to give the full title and date of this article in the Subject line of the email.

Caution: If you don't use the above email link, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.

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