Robert “Neal” Petenbrink, 76, Army Veteran and Retired Police Detective, loving father and grandfather passed away on Thursday, November 9, 2023, at his home in Quakertown with his longtime companion and high school sweetheart Sue Hale by his side.
Born in Wellersburgh, PA, he was the son of the late Robert Dale Petenbrink and Yvonne (Witt) Petenbrink.
Neal was a graduate of Wilson High School and a veteran of the Army where he served 4 ½ years. Neal began his service in Georgia where he was studying to be Military Police. He was the youngest Captain, at the time, at the age of 21. He served a tour of duty in Fairbanks, Alaska and was a former member of the Fairbanks Police Department and a graduate of the Fairbanks State Police Narcotics School.
Returning to Pennsylvania to be near his family Neal graduated from the State Police Academy, Hershey and joined the Pottstown Police department in 1971 where he began as a patrolman. During his tenure with the Police Department, he attended Penn State University where he pursued a degree in criminal justice. As a Detective Neal served as the head of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Municipal Drug Task Force. During his career he received many awards including commendations for “Astute patrol, superior ability and professional technique,” for, “superior performance in administering justice” and unit citations.
Neal was always active, starting the American Dream Corvette Club In the 1970’s. He was very proud of the accomplishments of the club such as running a Car Show at Sunnybrook and promoting the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Association.
He also had an entrepreneurial spirit by opening and running Coventry Hobbies and Bear Motors for several years with his second wife Gloria.
After retiring from the Police Department where he served for 25 years, he worked for Weiss Markets in Loss Prevention for several years. During the last 13 years Neal owned and operated Toys Are Fun with his Partner Sue, which began at Zern’s Farmers Market in Gilbertsville and then relocated to Quakertown Farmers Market.
Neal was an avid deer hunter and enjoyed playing cards with his family. He was a devoted grandfather to his grandchildren; they affectionately called him Pop. He held a special bond with one of his grandsons who has severe autism. They were very close and enjoyed sharing in collecting Dragon Ball Z. He enjoyed trips to McDonald’s and Pizza with all his grandchildren. He recently enjoyed attending the wedding of his oldest grandson and was looking forward to meeting his great grand daughter.
He is survived by his daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, 3 siblings, cousins, nieces, and nephews. He is predeceased by a stepdaughter and great grandson.
A memorial visitation will be held on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, from 12-2 pm at Catagnus Funeral Home (1020 E. Philadelphia Ave, Gilbertsville, PA 19525). A service will follow at 2pm with Rev. Joseph Dietz officiating. The burial will be held privately by the family later.
Flowers can be sent to Catagnus Funeral Home, or donations can be sent to the Timothy School