Robert Boone Bartlett, an archaeologist, musician, and gentle soul from Tulsa, died January 15, 2018, at home. By Robert's side in his final hours were his three beloved sons, Caleb and fiancée, Jessica, Chris, and Nathan; a special sister-in-law, Patricia Hardman; and Robert's cherished wife, Carol. He was 61 and lived in Norman since 1987.
To his parents and two sisters, Robert was affectionately called Bo. Bo was born July 20, 1956, in Tulsa to Robert C. (Bob) Bartlett, a former Zoning Administrator for the Tulsa Metro Area Planning Commission and realtor specializing in property management and appraising, and Patricia Ann Bartlett, a former medical technologist and microbiologist. Robert graduated from Central High School in 1974.
Brenda Bromiley says "Bo was the best brother a sister could have. He was a mischievous little boy driving his big sister crazy who became a loving, generous, fun brother and best friend. Bo's favorite thing growing up was the family cabin at Wauhillau Outing Club. It was situated in the Ozark foothills on Baron Fork Creek. There was plenty of wilderness to explore, hiking, swimming, and float trips. It was here that he met Ora Lamb, leader of the "Happy Hikers Club". On weekend mornings Mr. Lamb would lead hikers through the woods to explore beautiful places and also places of historical significance. Bo's passion for archaeology flourished through time spent exploring the wilderness at Wauhillau, an area marked by Native American artifacts, fossils, and civil war artifacts from a skirmish in the area." Robert would dreamily recall to Carol spending many happy afternoons, as a young boy in swim goggles, entranced by the colorful fishes that populated the crystal clear waters of Baron Fork Creek in the late 60s and early 70s.
Robert was part of the musical fabric of Tulsa in his 20s, winning a Woody Guthrie song-writing contest with his original song "Woody." His prize for the winning song was an acoustic Washburn guitar. Robert and Carol met in downtown Tulsa in May of 1986 at Tulsa's annual music festival, Mayfest, where he was a performer. Meeting Robert at Mayfest amongst the tall art-deco and modern buildings of downtown Tulsa is a timeless enduring memory for Carol. Robert was also enthusiastically part of the musical fabric of Norman. Gathering often with his fellow musician friends to play music was synonymous with his joy for life. Robert's original songs can be found on Reverbnation.com and include "Old Oak Tree," "The Boxcar," "Dust in My Pocket," "Ned Christie," "Tired Soldier," and "Woody." Robert was also a talented landscaper, and brought his landscaping talents to his home in Norman, as well as homes in Tulsa.
Robert graduated from the University of Oklahoma (OU) with a BA and MA in Anthropology in 1991 and 1993 respectively. Robert had a long career as an archaeologist for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. In 1993, he became the sole archaeologist for ODOT's Cultural Resource Program, then known as the Highway Archaeology Program. Under his leadership, the program grew to include additional archaeologists, as well as architectural historians and a cultural anthropologist. Robert recorded and documented hundreds of archaeological sites across Oklahoma. While much of his early research focused on Oklahoma's earliest Native inhabitants, his work on more recent archaeological sites is particularly noteworthy. Robert was the lead archaeologist on excavations at Mt. Williams, the World War II target range once located east of I-35 in Norman, and he aided the State Historic Preservation Office with documentation of the 101 Ranch, south of Ponca City. His final report for ODOT integrated extensive archival research with archaeological analysis to provide a full history of the Sulphur Springs Resort, an early 20th century health resort in Greer County, Oklahoma. Robert also helped locate Indian graves through landowner discussions and coordinated their protection and preservation with tribes and ODOT personnel. He retired from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's Cultural Resource Program in 2016.
On June 8, 2017, Robert was presented with a State Historic Preservation Officer's Citation of Merit in recognition of outstanding accomplishments contributing to the preservation of Oklahoma's heritage through his career of service in the study and preservation of Oklahoma's archaeological heritage.
Robert was preceded in death by his father, Bob, and mother, Patricia. Robert is survived by his wife, Carol; his three sons, Caleb, Chris and Nathan Bartlett, and his eight precious grandchildren: Rachel, Caleb Nathaniel, Joshua, Meagan, Sara, A.J., Lily, and Harlan. Robert is also survived by his older sister, Brenda Bromiley; her daughter, LaJeanna Bromiley; a younger sister, Barbara Bartlett, her husband, Mark Howard, and their son, Travis Bartlett-Howard. Robert's in-laws on Carol's side adored and respected him as a fine a brother-in-law as ever there was.
A celebration of Robert's life, for family, friends, colleagues, and associates is currently in the planning stages. Robert received superb care at the Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC) located at the OU Health Sciences Center Campus in Oklahoma City, and donations in his memory, specifying research, can be made to SCC. Robert (Bo) is missed tremendously.
Published on February 9, 2018