Robert C. Corthell, 69, Ran Chandler’s Auto School

Robert C. Corthell, 69, of Haverhill, passed peacefully on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at the Lahey Medical Center, Burlington, surrounded by loved ones, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He fought his brief illness with the same stubbornness and grit by which he lived.

His family and friends knew him as Bob, Bobby, Dad and Grandpa. The son of Robert and Arline (Penwell) Corthell, he was a lifelong Haverhill resident, though in recent years he and wife Sharon spent their winters in Winter Haven, Fla.

Corthell is a veteran, having proudly served in the U.S. Army. He made his living as a truck driver, hauling tractor trailers, commuter and school buses and just about anything else with four wheels and a motor. He was proud of his profession, keeping model cars and trucks around his desk at home. He retired from Conway Freight in 2014.
He was a family man first, always there to help bail someone out if they were stuck on the side of the road or facing other crises. He and Sharon took in family and others in times of need. He was a devout member of All Saints Parish in Haverhill and sent his daughters to St. Joseph School, then part of the parish. There, he served as a Sunday school teacher and Eucharistic Minister.

Above all, he was a teacher. On the side, the Corthells ran Chandler's Auto School and, as his niece Faith remembers, taught virtually half of Haverhill to drive. After his brother in-law Leon Basiliere suffered a stroke, Corthell taught him how to drive again and helped him get his license back. He taught just about all his kids, nieces and nephews to drive and had started teaching his grandson Sean. At Conway, he taught fellow employees about truck-driving safety. After retirement, he continued to teach driving and safety at the New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) in North Andover. He taught his son in-law, Bill, how to drive with a stick shift in a beaten-up Ford Escort up one of the steepest hills in town. Bill was nervous as hell, and thinks his father-in-law enjoyed that.

Corthell was passionate about RV camping and the safe and proper use of firearms. He and Sharon took their camper out regularly, and they lived in one during their Florida winters. Those passions rubbed off on his children and grandchildren, and each summer they would all camp together.

He taught his daughter Erin and son in-law Bill how to haul a camper, set it up, close it down and maintain it. He also taught most of his children, his oldest grandson and various friends how to shoot with a firearm.

He and his wife were avid square dancers and were members of the Firesiders, Montachusett Twirlers and Wolf Rockers square dancing clubs. He had opinions and wasn't afraid to share them, especially when it came to politics. He taught countless people how to live and love. For that, the family is forever grateful.

He is survived by Sharon, his cherished wife of 48 years, children Erin Brenner and husband Bill, Robin Coughlin and husband Tim, Sara Croft, Amanda Daniels and husband Matt, all of Haverhill, adored grandchildren Sean, Duncan, Madison and Owen, many nieces and nephews, siblings Cindi Basiliere, Janet Gillis, Natalie Pineau and husband Steve, Steve Corthell and wife Pat and Fred Corthell and wife Terry. He was preceded in death by his sister Nancy.

A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Nov. 13 at All Saints Church, 120 Bellevue Ave., Haverhill. Burial with U.S. Army Honors followed in St. Joseph Cemetery, Haverhill. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in memory of Robert Corthell to support the greatest needs in patient care. Please send your gift to: Philanthropy Office, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01805. You also may donate at