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Robert W. Faithful IV

robert faithful

Larger-than-life Robert “Bob” William Faithful IV was born in the “big city” of Wheeling, West Virginia, across from the small town of Bridgeport where he grew up. Bob was the oldest son of a single child, Robert William Faithful III, and a matriarch’s matriarch, the oldest daughter of twelve, Ruth Jane Cassels Faithful.

Bob and his younger twin brothers, George and Fred, were also raised, and deeply influenced by, their paternal grandmother, Natalie Rutledge Jones Faithful. She taught the boys how to play cards and was a Christian Scientist, a faith that deeply influenced Bob throughout his life. Between his grandmother and his mom, Bob learned the art of words: stories, argumentation, genealogies, longform monologues, and effusive words of affirmation, all of which he would become affectionately known for throughout his life.

As Bob’s family was rooted in eastern Ohio for many generations, he was proud that the Faithfuls were part of a migration of free people of color from North Carolina to Ohio, and that the Cassels were part of the Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson tree. Bob, a self-described “river rat” recalled frequent floods, big stacks of smoke, deep tree-lined pits, and mineral runoff that was part of Appalachian steel and coal life. This experience shaped his future dedication to environmental and climate justice through government service and faith leader.

After graduating from Bridgeport High School at the top of his class in 1966, Bob attended Miami University of Ohio on a National Merit Scholarship and majored in political science. Bob went on to attend Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, which he applied to on a near dare from a skeptical career counselor who clearly underestimated his intelligence and charisma. During law school, he was awarded a 6-month Ford Foundation fellowship to study in Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and other parts of east Africa, where he was enamored by the variety of people, vastness of the earth, diversity of wildlife, and another set of mountains – the Mountains of the Moon at the Murchison Falls Game Preserve. He shared stories about this trip often; it was his eye-opening experience to the greater world.

Fittingly, Bob began a 37-year career in government service after law school by entering the military, like his father and several generations before him. He served as an Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) from 1974-1977 in Anchorage, Alaska. The Native Alaskan and American Indian nations he supported, the Northern Lights, moose run-ins, and dear friends remained with him for the remainder of his career and life. In 1977, he was transferred to Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, California. A year later, after fulfilling his commitment to serve 4 years, he was honorably discharged from the Air Force at the rank of captain. He then moved to Montana, and ultimately settled in the Washington DC area.

Bob’s service continued with a long career within the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI). He started at the DOI’s Bureau of Land Management from 1978-1993 as a paralegal specialist, realty specialist, deputy state director, associate state director for eastern states, Montana and the Dakotas, and assistant director of support services. After a brief time with the Bureau of Mines, Special Assistant for Environmental Justice (1993-1996) and National Park Service (1996-1998), Bob spent eight years as Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization from 1998-2006. His final years in government from 2006 until his retirement in March 2012 were at the National Business Center Acquisition Services Directorate.

Over the years, Bob was most proud of his role in helping both people and nature. He supported tribal nations who fought mining activities that emitted hazardous waste; small farmers concerned about water supplies because of mega hog or chicken farms beside them; continued exposure of children in both rural and urban areas to lead paint; and dissections of communities of color by transportation projects. He cared about every person and community he touched and touched him.

Bob ended his long tenure at the DOI with numerous distinctions, including awards from Asian, Hispanic, and Gay and Lesbian organizations. Among them was his membership to the elite Senior Executive Service, of which he was very proud. At the same time, he was never a particularly serious guy. His go-to management tip came from his favorite all-time character, Star Trek’s Spock: “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” Perhaps this sentiment is a reflection of his expansive curiosity, active seeking, and commitment to self-growth.

Bob’s most important achievement, however, was becoming a father to two children, Richael Faithful and Robert “Bobby” William Faithful, V. Most often, after Bob introduced himself, he shared photos or stories of his children. He spent the 90’s as an avid sports dad, coaching Bobby’s basketball and soccer teams, and ushering Richael across the U.S. and Canada for their competitions in the same sports. Bob was his son’s most devoted music fan, proud of Bobby’s self-taught instrumentation and touring bands. He too was proud of Richael’s activism for racial justice and LGBTQ rights, in which the Faithful tradition of service was carried on.

As much as Bobby and Richael marked their own life paths, both his children were proudly shaped by him. Bobby, like his dad, is a gregarious community-oriented business person who carved his way into being one of few Black craft beer experts in the country. Richael followed their dad’s path to law school, and after a successful civil rights practice, supports social justice movements as a healer, and plans to attend seminary next year. Bob believed, after three divorces, that his children were the loves of his life.

He described his personal life as being filled with many blessings and some trials, which included his struggle with, and recovery from, gambling. He found forgiveness and growth through service with Gamblers Anonymous (GA) for nearly 25 years, which he credited to a daily reliance on a Higher Power and understanding of Serenity. As a regional and national GA leader, he helped countless members in their healing journeys both in visible, formal ways as a sponsor and organizer, and in quiet, informal ways that saved lives.

In 2011, Bob embraced, and was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal Church. He found a spiritual home at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Centreville, Virginia, where he was senior warden and served on the Vestry. After his retirement in 2012, his focus turned toward his faith and environmental and climate justice. He was excited to have these two parts of his life come together when he became a GreenFaith Fellow from 2013-2014. He believed in the stewardship role of each individual and each of our ethical obligations to seek opportunities for change. He was guided by Jesus of Nazareth’s words from Matthew 25:34: “Come you blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Bob is survived by his brothers, Fred and George Faithful; his children, Richael and Bobby Faithful; niece, Shannon Faithful, and nephews, George Faithful, Jr., and Fred Faithful, III, as well as six grand-nieces and nephews; and his decade-long partner, Susan Woods.

Bob will be laid to rest on Saturday, May 27th at his place of worship, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 5649 Mount Gilead Rd, in Centreville, VA. His funeral service and celebration of life will begin with a 12pm viewing, 1pm program, and 2:30pm reception. The service will be livestreamed and viewable online on St. John’s Youtube Channel.

Bob’s children are asking for community support in two ways.

First, they will be creating a photo collection for viewing at the reception. If you have a digital photo to share, please upload it into this public Google Drive folder or e-mail his daughter-in-law, Adiel Suarez-Murias, at Please bring any physical photos to the reception to be included on his altar.

Second, his children welcome any loved ones to stay for the reception, which will be part-catered, and part-potluck. Please bring dishes to share to celebrate his love of food and community.

Finally, memorial gifts can be extended through Chantilly Flowers or Funeral Choices’ tree-planting program.

Bob was beloved by many, and will be deeply missed.




Viewing: May 27, 2023 12:00 pm

St John's Episcopal Church
5649 Mt Gilead Rd
Centreville, VA 20120


Funeral Service: May 27, 2023 1:00 pm

St John's Episcopal Church
5649 Mt Gilead Rd
Centreville, VA 20120


Committal Service: May 27, 2023 2:00 pm

St John's Episcopal Church
5649 Mt Gilead Rd
Centreville, VA 20120


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Memories Timeline


  1. Dear Faithful family,
    I just want to light this candle for a man of immense strength, grace, compassion and love for others. Bob was an incredible human being who always had a kind, guiding and thoughtful word for his fellow man. I’m grateful to call him a brother-in-arms and a friend. He is deeply missed and I will always cherish the words of wisdom that he shared with me. Rest in Power, Bob Faithful IV! May your loving light continue to shine upon those who were blessed to share time and space with you.

  2. Bob! Thank you for your friendship. You were a leading voice at the Department of the Interior. I am enjoyed our conversations and your laughter. You told great stories. You have run a great race and has finished your course. Rest in Heavenly Peace

    • Condolences to the Faithful family. I have only seen Bob a few times since high school but each time was a pleasure. I was on the wrestling team with Bob, Fred, and George. Bob was a year ahead of me I looked to him as a role model for his leadership, academic, and athletic excellence as well as his charismatic personality and sense of humor. I’m lighting a blue candle as, in the words of our Alma Mater, “We’ll ere look back to the blue and the black of dear old Bridgeport High”! RIP Bob.

  3. My dear Brother, Bob, I am saddened that you are no longer in my physical presence. I rejoice that you are with Our Father In Heaven. God Bless Your Soul🙏♥️

  4. Bob Faithful was my loyal friend and my mentor. He helped me through some difficult times in my life. Bob was one of God’s most “Faithful” servants. Because of him, I believe in God and have a better understanding of God’s infinite love and mercy. He may be gone from this world, but will never be forgotten. His words of wisdom and example of service will always stay with me and serve as a guide in my life. He was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I will always be eternally grateful for how much time he spent counseling me and being a good friend to me. My condolences to his family. You are in my prayers and in my heart. I think he’s an angel now and that he will be watching over you.❤️

  5. My favorite memories of Bob Faithful
    1994 to present (that’s a long time my dear friend).

    I had the pleasure to work with Bob and have him as a friend!  When Bob became your friend he was 100% in; loyal, sincere, and invested in
    your success and happiness.  He would keep in touch, either with a call by email.

    Our first introduction was at DOI as the first case of Environmental Justice.  Bob learned quickly we grassroots people did not have any money,
    so, Bob bought us (my twin sister, Marsha and me) home with him because he knew we didn’t have s place to stay.
    He would pack us paper bag lunches to bring into DC for our lobbying. We joined his car pool to and from DC.  

    Bob had a strict rule- we had to balance work and play. At night after debriefing what happened during the day we were not allowed to talk business.  
    He taught us Balance and the need to balance play with work.  We would talk the night away and share music.  He would introduce us to his favorite
    music groups.  One of which I smile writing this, was Boyz II Men. I fell in love with the album and found that when I got home, the CD was sitting
    in my post box.

    Bob became a friend not only to my Marsha and me, but to my entire family.  On our family trips to DC, he would meet up with us to act as a tour guide to
    show off his favorite city.  We would go to Roosevelt Island, the Washington National Cathedral, Vietnam War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Thomas
    Jefferson Memorial, or simply get coffee together. I had the opportunity to return the hosting when Bob came to our home when we lived on Cape Cod.  
    I got to show off our claim to fame, beaches, Woods Hole, and fish restaurants!

    A Dine'(Navajo) elder once told me that the highest state a person could attain was to become a Human Being.  Bob was one!  I always thought his heart was
    the size of the ocean, never ending.  His humanity and love suffused his entire being.  He was a joy to behold!  Whether it was concern for marginalized,
    oppressed peoples, or a person suffering economic injustice, Bob cared and did something about it.  Bob ‘Walked his Talk’!

    Bob had total presence when you were together, like you alone was the center of the universe.  Thanks Bob for being such a light.  You will be Missed!

    I could honestly say Bob was unique and the mold was broken when he was born, but then he had two children who were the pride and light of his life!
    I know he is confident his legacy for Love and Justice will continue. Bob was very proud of you!

    Bob, May your Journey be Blessed and well met!  I Honor you!
    Rita Monestersky-Sebastian

  6. Bob Faithful was a dear friend
    By Marsha Monestersky
    5/27/2023. I am sorry, I am not able to be here today. I share condolences and my heartfelt respect for Bob Faithful. He was a dear friend to my twin sister Rita and I, a colleague, and mentor. We knew Bob for 3 decades. I first met him in early 1994 when I traveled from the Navajo Nation to WA DC on the day of a solar eclipse. It was Bob’s first day as the first Special Assistant for Environmental Justice at the US DOI. I said to Bob, we need to talk. Bob said, we can walk and talk. We went to the Viet Nam wall. I found the name of an old friend who served, inscribed on the wall. Later we returned to his office. Over the years, I had the honor to work with him. One time, Bob gave me a CD/DVD, “We Can Change the World.” He said, this is your song. I think it was our song.

    In Big Mountain, Black Mesa on the Navajo Nation, and throughout Indian country, Bob is known as a Buffalo Soldier for Mother Earth. Bob had a heart and mind for Indigenous people and people of color. He was my friend, mentor, and colleague. He taught me humanity, diplomacy, and balance.

    EJ began, Bob drafted the US DOI Executive Order on Environmental Justice EO 12898. Our grassroots organization, Forgotten People filed the first case of EJ at the US DOI and US EPA for environmental harm to Navajo people living in and adjacent to Peabody Coal Company’s mining area. Bob went with me to meetings at the DOI. He was a champion. With his guidance, we leveraged EJ as a way to get grassroots people a seat at the table with federal officials regulating policies that directly affected the people’s land and life. With EJ, we got a historic multi-media/multi-agency task force investigation of Peabody Coal Company, US DOI Office of Surface Mining (OSM) inspections, and numerous violations cited.

    When a colleague of mine from Dine’ CARE wanted me to go to the Cahuilla Band of Indians in Southern California to help grassroots people opposing ‘Mount BIA’, a toxic waste pile of LA’s medical waste. When I told Bob and a colleague at the US EPA, they told me, this is a big EJ case. I went to see what I could do to help. When I got there, I asked people, are you a case of EJ? They asked me, what is EJ? I knew it was an EJ case when I saw the devastation of ‘Mount BIA’, an illegal waste dump that was operating in spite of more than a dozen Cease and Desist Orders. A blockade formed and people were endangered by Semis bringing in medical waste. I called Bob late at night to tell him what was happening. He asked me, do you think people will get hurt? I told him, Yes, the people refuse to leave the blockade and the semi’s are coming. Bob called the Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt late that night. By early morning, before the semis came in, ‘Mount BIA’ was shut down and clean-up ordered.

    When I attended an EJ conference at UDC School of Law, I told federal officials of uranium and arsenic contaminated water people were drinking in Black Falls, Box Springs area on the Navajo Nation. The people were never told the water was contaminated. By the time I returned, federal officials posted contaminated water signs and plans were made to deliver safe drinking water to the people.

    For me personally, Bob taught me the need for balance and humanity as I worked tirelessly to defend the Navajo people and their land. He invited me to spend time with Richelle and Bobby and attend Richelle’s soccer games. Several times, when I needed a place to stay so I could lobby officials, Bob invited me into his home. I shared a carpool with Bob and his colleagues from DOI and DOE. He packed me brown bag lunches. When Bob traveled to Arizona, he came to visit me. We kept in touch on the phone and via email. Bob was a great human being! He made a difference to Mother Earth, the land, the water, and the people. He made a difference in my life! Bob believed in my sister and I, and the Navajo grandmothers. He will always be remembered. Travel well my friend!

  7. Bob was one good man! A dear friend! “A tree planted by the rivers of waters!” – Psalm 1

  8. Bob you were so kind to me when I joined GA. That first year you helped guide me to grow in my faith and helped me open up to my parents. I remember the first GA picnic I went to I brought my dad and you spent time talking to him and I. I really will miss you my friend. You rest in paradise now my friend.

  9. My deepest sympathies to the Faithful family! I met Bob at the St. John’s Church in Centreville. He was the legend of humbleness, kind and caring person. I can’t express my sorrow in words but you always will be in my memories. Good bye! My dear Bob! Rest in Peace

  10. Thank you for sharing the obituary. Being an Ohian, I am familiar with some of the information brought forth. He was certainly
    Someone to be proud of.

  11. Bob was always there for me. He was always at the ready to offer sound advice and a friendly ear. I will miss him.

  12. I am glad I made a connection on Facebook with you Cousin it was delightful hearing the knowledge of our family history your mother and others bestowed upon you. I pray there is someone in the family willing too pick up the Mantle carrying it forward with your compassion for family and our history. “Rest Easy” R.I.P. My condolences to all the family and friends.

  13. I offer my sincere condolences to the Faithful family. Bob was assigned as a mentor to me when I first reported at DOI. I soon learned that he was a mentor to anyone who needed him. I am proud to say that he became a respected and valued friend.

  14. I miss you, Bobby, and Richael, and all the meals we shared. I miss your stories, your advice, your warmth, and humility. I really miss the old days. Until we meet again… Un abrazo muy grande y muy fuerte. ❤

  15. My sincere condolences to the Faithful family. I light this candle to honor the memory of my friendship, joy, and respect in working with Bob at the Dept of Interior – B.LM. during the 1990’s. Bob always offered his very best to everyone. He will be missed. R.I.P.

  16. I’m sorry Mr. Faithful you departed so young!
    Thank you for your commitment to early reporting your tax matters. Your were a great client!

  17. I am so saddened by such a great loss. Robert was a wonderful human being. We talked often with regards to genealogy as he is a paternal cousin to my oldest daughter. May his soul rest peacefully in perpetuity…Many condolences to his family…💐

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