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Robert "Robby" Gaines '76 October 21, 2022 3:33 PM updated: October 25, 2022 10:30 AM

Robert Vallee Gaines
February 11, 1954 ~ October 13, 2022

Robert Vallee Gaines passed away peacefully in Artesia, New Mexico October 13, 2022.

"Robby" Gaines was born in Midland, Texas on February 11, 1954 to Robert Byron Gaines Jr. and Betty Land his wife. At birth Robby only weighed 3 pounds which in the fifties was incredibly small. He spent the first 30 days of his life in an iron lung and an incubator.

When he was two the family moved from Texas to Omaha, Nebraska, where he would grow up in mountains of snow. In 1963 his parents took him to see the musical "Music Man." The movie featured the popular song, 76 Trombones. As they walked out of the movie Robby proclaimed he was going to play the trombone. At age ten he got his first trombone at Christmas. He would go on to play that trombone in grade school, Junior High, two high schools and at Texas A & M University in the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. He also played in several small bands and plays at the Texas Aggie Reunion Bands.

Robby graduated from Midland High school, Midland, Texas in June 1972.

He then attended Texas A&M from 1972 till 1976. He was in the Aggie Corps of Cadets and the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. He graduated in 1976 with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

When Robby was eight he joined the Cub Scouts and participated in all their activities. He moved up and became a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Eagle Scout at 14. While in Boy Scouts Robby got to go on several canoe trips to the boundary waters in Minnesota with the scouts. He twice went to the Philmont Scout ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. He attended the Boy Scout National Jamboree in Boise, Idaho.

At 16 the family moved back to Midland where Robby graduated from Midland High. From there he left to go to Texas A & M University where he earned a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 1976.

After graduation Robby went to work for Daniels International in Emporia, Kansas. Robby worked various jobs with Daniel International and Bechtel Industries. He worked on projects that involved everything from nuclear reactor plants and launch pads for NASA. While working for Bechtel, Robby would meet his future wife who was working on a joint project with a company from Venezuela.

Edellweiss and Robby got married in Midland, Texas on May 17, 1997. They lived in Houston until 2002 when they would relocate to Artesia, New Mexico to work for the Navajo Refinery.

They enjoyed many happy years in Artesia and Robby got very involved in the community. He was part of the Big Brother Big Sisters program, he gave presentations at elementary schools about space in Houston as well as Artesia. In 2005, he was part of a group that started Ride for Bikes project. They have built and distributed more than 4800 bikes for children in need. He was also a part of the summer "Don't Sweat, Just Wet" celebrations in Artesia that helped raise money for scholarships and money for the Ride for Bikes project.

Robby enjoyed anything that involved space, whether real or fantasy. He also loved collecting and building robots. Camping, hunting, sailing, bike riding, basically anything outdoors and a love of cats were additional passionate interests of his. Robby also had a pilot license and enjoyed flying planes. He had shared ownership of T-86 called the Texas Twister. He often got to participate with the Confederate Air Force.

Robby is preceded in death by his parents, Robert Byron Gaines Jr. and Betty Land Gaines and by his younger brother, Richard Spear Gaines.

He is survived by his wife Edellweiss Gaines, his sister Gayanne Bett and her husband Tom Bett, and their three children Sarah, Tommy, and Rachel Bett.

The family would like to thank all the wonderful caregivers and therapists that helped with Robby's care. You were all compassionate, funny and proficient at your jobs which made his days more enjoyable.

Visitation will be held on Monday October 17 at 6 PM to 8 PM at Sunset Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home, 6801 E. I-20BL, Odessa, Texas.

Graveside service will be at Resthaven Memorial Cemetery Midland, Tx on Tuesday Oct. 18th at 11AM.


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