Celebrate Robert “Skinny Bob” Chiarello

“Time is a concept… some people are old at 40, some are young at 90”

The oldest civilizations on earth survive their tradition with a great sufferance for the elderly.

I guess as we get older it’s a fact of life that we lose family and friends more often.

I have such a reverence for “old” people. They are a wealth of knowledge. They have such a different perspective than I and likely one I will learn from. My friend, Bob Chiariello, Skinny Bob, or “Bobby “ as I liked to call him, was no exception.

On Wednesday, April  5, 2022  Bobby passed away in Panama City, at the Instituto Oncológico Nacional, after a short battle with lung cancer. It was barely noticed.

“Though my body is sick, my mind shall not be sick”

I came to know Bobby at our favorite table at Toro Loco. He was a very intelligent man. Sharp, well read, knowledgeable and engaging. We became quick friends. Many nights sitting by my pool drinking a beer until 2:00 am solving world problems as “men” like to do.

He would present me with all kinds of topics. I challenged him on his knowledge too many times. I never won those challenges. I learned so much from him. He was caring, patient and forgiving.

He once told me a story of 6 Buddhist monks that didn’t have a place to stay the night, he invited them on to his sailboat. He followed the Buddhist ways, he was independent in his spirituality. We shared those common beliefs…

Skinny Bob invited Buddihst monks on his sailboat when they had nowhere to stay

“Do not forget yesterday, always live for today, never knowing what tomorrow may bring or what it may take away”

Bobby lived a multitude of lives on the eastern seaboard. Insurance salesman, sailing, carpentry, and drywall services. Sometimes wealthy and sometimes by the grace of god. It didn’t seem to matter much to him. He was always just “Bobby”. Always extending a hand in friendship. He fashioned himself a “ladies man”… I think that worked well. Most of his friends were women.

“Family may not be about blood, it may be about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it most”

Here in Bocas, the friends he treasured – Wendi, Lori, Reta, Julie, Trudy, Brock, Oxana and Cynthia.

A couple of years ago he was so happy to have reconnected with estranged family members; his niece Chris and brother Don.

He was preceded in death by his ex-wife and still good friend Ginger, whom he spoke of often.

“No one can save us but ourselves, no one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path”

Bobby lived life on his terms. All too often throwing caution to the wind. His life was full. He was happy. He was grateful. In a world full of fear and hate… He was my friend.

Skinny Bob smiling with friends

Bobby was cremated at Capillas Memoriales (Memorial  Chapels).

Panama, in its infinite manner, has finally released Bobby’s personal belongings, his death certificate. His cremains are here with us in Bocas.

Look for more information on a coming post over Bocas Open Forum.

On Saturday June 11, 2022 we will honor our friend with a floating ceremony and by spreading his ashes over the following seas. That is where his heart was most at peace… on the waves of the endless rhythm of life.

Tribute article written by Skinny Bob’s dear friend, Will Roda.

Information on the memorial send-off, from a Facebook event created by Wendi Chandler Poole:

“Celebrating the “wunerful” life of Robert “Skinny Bob” Chiariello

January 13, 1948 – April 5, 2022

We will be gathering to share some of our favorite memories, our stories, to laugh, to cry and remember one of Bocas’ icons. He will be missed. 💙

This Saturday June 11, 2022 at 11:00 am we will be at Virginia’s dock where anyone who wants to, can ride with us. Perhaps some of you with a boat can offer seats as well. We will cruise out to scatter his ashes at sea, which is where Bobby felt most at peace.”

Respond to the event invitation and leave a comment in remembrance of Skinny Bob.


Skinny Bob with friends Will Poole and Jeff DeWitt at the Chili Challenge 2018 at Skully's

Skinny Bob is pictured in the center with friends and Chili Cook-off teammates Will Roda and Jeff DeWitt at a recent Chili Challenge at Skully’s.

The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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