Robert “Barefoot Bob” Bittens, 60, passed away early Saturday, April 14th, after a long battle with cancer. His sudden passing has devastated the family and community, at a time when his condition appeared to be improving.
Bob was born in Brooklyn, NY, but grew up in Hamden, CT. In his youth, you could hear him playing guitar and piano at coffee shops all over town. These were just some of the many instruments he’d master in his lifetime.
His unique charm, humor, and booming voice made him a star as he propelled to the top of the Connecticut radio scene. He got his first big break at WPLR/New Haven in 1978. Later, he moved to Hartford, where he was Program Director at WHCN for 16 years. Bob enjoyed numerous accolades and worked with many known personalities, including Howard Stern and Lenny Kravitz. His friends can regale you of countless acts of kindness, his brutal honesty, and his unrelenting desire to do the right thing.
Unfortunately, Bob lived a life plagued by debt and despicable luck. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. In 2014, he was laid off. And in 2016, his house burned down. It was only a few months ago that Bob and his wife moved back into their fully restored home. At the time of his passing, Bob had just begun a medical trial targeted at Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, with positive results.
To give an impression of Bob Bittens: He was whatever you needed. He was a listening ear. He was tough love. He was a generous giver. He was a terrible loser. And through it all, he maintained a style and humor that was all his own. Those who knew him will never forget him. And for those who didn’t, you missed out.
Bob leaves behind his loving wife of over 30 years, Gail, his children, Brooke and Jacob, his sister, Holly, and his beloved dog, Max. He was adamant that there be no funeral, no ceremony, no frills. He wanted a party. The family will be welcoming anyone who’d like to pay their respects to their home at 25 Oakwood Road in Simsbury, CT. It will be 2pm-5pm, this Saturday, April 22nd. A GoFundMe campaign, previously established to help Bob with medical bills, remains active in an effort to support his widow. It can be reached at: www.gofundme.com/tpc45wg8 . Any donations are greatly appreciated.
We’ll miss you, Bob. Wherever you are, the music just got a whole lot better.