Bob Visintainer, an elder emeritus of the Alleluia Community, died Sunday at Medical College of Georgia Hospital after a brief illness. He was 81.
Visintainer, who was also the father-in-law of Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson, came to Augusta with his family from Alliance, Ohio, in 1979 to join the ecumenical Christian community in south Augusta.
“I know a lot of good men, but I’ve never known a better man,” said Kevin Murrell, also an elder in the Alleluia Community. “He worked very hard to complete what he started. He trusted God; he loved his family and took care of his work, stayed the course.”
Visintainer loved gardening, cooking and time with his wife, Beatrice, and his seven children, 27 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He became an elder, one of the five leaders who govern the community, in 2001, and retired from that role in the spring of last year, although Murrell said he continued attending elders’ meetings.
“My dad had a big heart for people,” said Robert J. Visintainer. “He was a pastor. He cared about people, and he was very good at taking care of people. He pretty much devoted his whole life to that.
“My father grew up in a family-oriented place. He grew up in a small neighborhood in Uhrichsville, Ohio. He lived (among) extended family like we have here. Coming to community for him was like coming home.”
Dan Almeter, another Alleluia elder, remembered Visintainer as “a benevolent, caring father – to everybody who met him, not just to his family.”
Almeter said Visintainer was a pastoral mentor to him for 28 years.
“He was kind of like a real father figure for me. He provided a tremendous amount of love and care for me and my family.
“You can’t find anybody who worked harder or served more than Bob. If he said it once, he said it a hundred times – that he wanted to die with his boots on. And that’s what he did. He was serving right up until the time he died.
“I used to jokingly call him Mr. Alleluia because he symbolized what we were about.”
Murrell recalled that Visintainer conducted a cooking school for his grandchildren, where he passed on his considerable culinary gifts as well as important lessons on life. A retired meat cutter with the A&P Tea Co. and the son of northern Italian immigrants, he made Italian sausages each year for the community’s Christmas festival. They always sold out.
“He was genuine. He worked within his limits, which fortunately were broad,” Murrell said.
“Daddy was a very gifted man who could do many things,” said Karin Phillips. “From designing homes, organizing events, cooking classes with his grandchildren, carpooling, gardening. He could fix anything that was broke. ... He was the kind of man that becomes a second dad to other people. He was the kind of man that had the gift of being a daddy to one and all.”
She said her father also modeled the ideal Christian husband.
“It’s very hard to separate Dad from Mom. They did everything together. They were just an amazing team. They were an example of what a holy marriage should be.”