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Article Published June 3, 2020
Bob Bischoff, a Steward and Supporter of Clinton
Eric O’Connell, Staff Reporter

For more than two decades, the George S. Flynn Concert Series has been a staple of Clinton’s artistic community. One of the people who is a key piece of making the concerts run year after year is Bob Bischoff.

After Flynn passed away, he left money to establish a trust to provide classical concerts of world-famous musicians in Clinton, free to all concert goers. The trust was established in 1997 and soon after the concert series organizers realized they needed someone to manage the trust’s money.

That’s where Bob came in.

“The former president asked me if I would be interested in being treasurer and I said, ‘I guess so,’” Bob says.

More than 20 years later Bob is still in his volunteer role as treasurer of the series.

In this role, Bob has a number of important duties: He needs to review all bills and pay for performers’ transportation, lodging, and food, along with production expenses like printing programs. He also manages expenses and donations and keeps track of reports for the non-profit organization’s tax returns.

That’s not even the tip of the iceberg, according to Bob.

“The endowment states it’s to provide concerts in perpetuity,” Bob says, meaning he needs to make sure that there is always enough money to keep the concert series running.

Bob has always been fan of classical music, so working for the series has been right up his alley.

“Live concerts of classical music attracted me. There’s nothing like live music. You can’t get that feel on a disc,” Bob explains.

Bob’s favorite part of his work with the series is “meeting the artists and getting to experience the performances.”

“One particularly excellent concert I saw was the Joshua Bell concert where he came and did West Side Story,” Bob says.

Part of what made that concert stand out for Bob is that he was an extra in the performance and arrived on stage in an old Ford Model T car.

Bob was a natural choice to serve as treasurer due to his extensive work with in the financial world. Bob worked as the vice president of marketing for the Central Bank in Meriden from 1983 to 1991 and later founded the Connecticut Bank Rate Recap, which is a financial services newsletter tracking rates of deposits, loans, and mortgages in Connecticut. He worked there until 2016. Bob also served on the Clinton Board of Tax Review in the mid-1980s.

In addition to his volunteer work with the concert series, Bob has also been involved in the Clinton Historical Society (CHS).

“I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees in history so I was trained as a historian,” Bob says. “It actually came in handy.”

Bob joined the CHS in 1981 and served as president from 1988 to 1994. The story of how he became president is an interesting one.

“Ernest C. Burnham, Jr. was then president of the Clinton Historical Society and asked me if I wanted to be President of the CHS when he planned to step down,” Bob says. However, Bob was running for a position in that year’s municipal election and wasn’t sure if he would have enough time to do both. “If I lose tonight’s election, you got yourself a president,” Bob replied.

Sure enough, Bob lost the election but gained the CHS presidency.

During his time with CHS the society underwent enormous changes.

“We had just received the estate of Old Brick. Prior we had been located only in the museum room at Town Hall,” Bob recalls.

The gift of Old Brick gave the CHS more space and the popular gardens it uses for tours and fundraisers today.

“It was a time of real expansion. I basically coordinated the restoration work,” says Bob, who remains a CHS member.

His favorite part of CHS?

“The Flynn Library is fabulous,” he says. “We can examine documents and resources there.”

There’s one historical mystery that Bob still pursues—he calls it the most interesting thing to happen to him at CHS.

The town’s first historian, Ernest C. Burnham, Jr., discovered what appeared to be an 8th century lamp of Byzantine origin when, as a young boy, Burnham and his friend Brant Welge were digging in Welge’s back yard. Burnham later told Bob about it and Bob found articles about the lamp.

There are photos of the lamp and records to indicate that the lamp was shipped to England for identification in the 1950s, but it never returned. Bob has been writing to various entities to find out what happened to the lamp and even gave a talk on the mystery of the lamp at the Henry Carter Hull Library.

Bob is originally from New York City but has lived in Clinton with his wife Marcia since 1981. In his spare time, Bob enjoys editing his father’s journal about his travels around the world while also writing his own memoir of his adventures. Of his continued involvement in organizations in Clinton, Bob says he got it from his father.

“My father always said when you come somewhere new, try and leave it better.”