Robert M. Bender

BRUNSWICK – Robert “Bob” M. Bender, 84, died on Jan. 31, 2024, in Brunswick. He was born on Oct. 7, 1939, in Albany, N.Y., to the late Robert M. Bender Sr. and Winifred Allen Bender.

Bob was a brave humanitarian, who spent his life helping people recover from disasters, learn life-saving skills, and better their lives. He dedicated his 43-year career to the values of the International Red Cross, serving as the CEO of the Greater New York chapter from 1985 to 2003. Previously, he led the Red Cross chapters in Minneapolis and Boston.

Bob was a forward-looking leader of the nonprofit community in New York City. He believed in the power of alliance and was a founder of the Human Services Council and the 9-11 United Services Group. Bob’s outstanding leadership of the relief and recovery efforts after the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center was based on decades of experience coordinating humanitarian relief. He assisted with the 1962 release of American prisoners in Cuba; provided aid to those affected by the Watts Rebellion of 1965, the Newark riots of 1967, the Black Hills Flood of 1972 and the 1973 American Indian Movement occupation of the Pine Ridge Reservation at Wounded Knee. He worked on countless natural disasters and plane crashes. Bob was perhaps most proud of the New York Chapter’s Homeless Services Program, which operated three shelters for unhoused women and children, supporting them on a path to stable housing and employment.

He was a graduate of Siena College, and loved the outdoors, travel, reading history, and a dry martini.

He is survived by his wife, Katherine Theodore; his sons, Robert M. Bender (Gina) of Weymouth, Mass., and Michael Bender (Sarah), of Plymouth, Mass.; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Edward Bender; and his daughter, Lorraine Bender.

A memorial gathering is planned for the spring in New York City.

The Brackett Funeral Home in Brunswick, Maine, is assisting the family with the arrangements.

Memories and Condolences may be shared at

In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund or a charity of your choice.

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