Robert P. Panco, 68

August 16, 2017

Robert P. Panco of East Petersburg passed away on August 16, 2017, at the age of 68.

Known as “Bob,” “Tomato Man,” and “Bobby Tomatoes” to friends and rivals throughout Lancaster County, Bob was a man who lived life on his own terms. One of his favorite sayings was “If you’re not living life on the edge, you are taking up too much room.”

Born in Hazelton, on July 31, 1949, Bob was retired from the PA State Labor Statistics Department. He proudly served his country as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Air Force, spending time stationed in Thailand. He graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, though it’s none of yours.

Bob had interests in gardening, produce auctions, and practicing massage, among other pursuits. It was his interest in produce auctions which led to him becoming known as “Tomato Man.” Bob would purchase large amounts of vegetables at local produce auctions then supply many area restaurants with the items he purchased. He often generously gifted produce to his friends and was even known to travel great distances to ensure friends from out of the area could get fresh tomatoes, peaches, and other items. He was known to drive around with a car stuffed full of produce of all shapes and sizes. “He was like a truck farmer without a truck or a farm,” one of his friends recalls.

In 2010, Bob was the focus of a documentary film, “7 Glasses,” which investigated a controversial incident he was involved in at a Lancaster County brewpub. A truly unique man of leisure, he was known for off-color jokes and wild stories, many of which he was at the center. He enjoyed wagering on sports and was particularly fond of playing teasers. His favorite country song was “If the Phone Don’t Ring, It’s Me.” He brought joy to many people and will be greatly missed.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Susan; a sister, Regina; and a brother, Michael. He is survived by a sister, Rita (wife of William Houser); niece, Celeste Fox; and nephews Peter and Michael Tranguch and Christian and Aaron Panco. Burial will take place at Fort Indiantown Gap at a later date.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 11AM on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at the Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home and Crematory, 3110 Lititz Pike, Lititz, PA 17543. Friends and family will be received from 9AM-11AM. In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Bob may be made to Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348. Interment will be held Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery promptly at 2:00PM.

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Condolences to the Family

October 18, 2020

Bob attended Penn State Hazelton just after I dropped out. We met at the Y in Lancaster, and he is nttoduced me to his friends. I was sad to hear of his passing. I wasn’t able to attend any of his memorial services, but got the chance to visit his memorial at Fort Indiantown Gap national cemetery on Memorial Day a few years ago. Rest In Peace, Bob
David Emrich

September 02, 2017

Bob was a good friend. He had a practical side, which lent itself to much advice, and a much more wild side, within which he threw caution to the wind. Many good times were had driving with a car load of friends to a Friday night dinner at a local restaurant. While all were still scrambling to buckle up Bob, who didn’t wear a  seatbelt, would be underway and driving, talking endlessly and gesturing, sometimes hands off the wheel, to make a point. The solutions he recommended to resolve a social issue were, on the other hand, totally practical. He called politicians a-holes and no nothings, who didn’t have the courage to really define and settle an obvious problem. A great and generous guy.  Jerry Greiner

September 01, 2017

Stephen attended Penn State with Bob. We were members of the Penn State University Veterans Organization. We vacationed together at Ocean Isle Beach and Topsail Island, NC for many years. Membering many happy moments. Bob was always ready to help people. He also had a gift of conversations and joke telling. Bob will be missed! Remember the good times!
Stephen & Nancy Adcox, Wilmington, NC

September 01, 2017

Oh what a dear kind man and a character through and through.  “He lived on his own terms” indeed – he was his own man through and through.  A generous heart at the foundation of being a real character.  You will truly be missed good friend!    Victor

August 30, 2017

Grew up together/went to school K thru 12 together/worked together here at State Capital Complex 12 years.  A true lifelong friend.  In fact we were both born the same day (7-31-1949) one block from each other on Diamond Avenue in Hazleton.  Looked forward here in Harrisburg to our meeting twice a week for coffee/coversations/the vegtables he would bring me.  A good good man, Bob made the world a better place and friends & acquaintences better people. I can’t think of a time I ever saw Bob that he wasn’t smiling and/or joking around.  He’ll surely brighten up heaven with his smile & stories & vegtable garden. Rest in peace my lifelong friend.
Anthony Gabriel

August 29, 2017

We will miss Bob’s wit and intelligence. He made a difference on the planet.Affectionately,Judi and Greg Keeley

August 29, 2017

Bob was a great addition to our annual Palm Sunday brunch; we will miss his silly smile and his “babaganoush”  Joanne and Bill Harris

August 28, 2017

Bob and I worked together for eight years at the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.  He retired  from the Center in 2007.  He was an extremely generous man and wise in many ways.  We spent a lot of time together and I enjoyed our lunchtime adventures and the many deep talks we had about life.  He was unique and he genuinely cared about others.  He was a fine mentor.  His previous co-workers at CWIA and I will miss him –  Tim McElhinny    


August 27, 2017

We still talk about Bob and Rose. Bob left us with many fond memories, especially of Bailyville and the Vets house. it came as no surprise to us that he was known as the “Tomatoe man”. Rest in peace our old friend.
Gary and Rebecca Marks

August 27, 2017

Bobby, I am so so sorry you are gone.  I wish I had known you better, you never failed to delight and amuse.  Your loss will never be forgottten.   Dave and I will truly miss you as will all of of your friends who dared walk on the edge w/ you.  Condolences to your family, you must have been something as a little boy.

August 27, 2017

Sorry to lose a great classmate and wonderful friend.  Rest in peace my friend.  Marianne Vitaliano

August 27, 2017

Thanks for the many laughs, tomatos and fun times we have shared over the years. Your friendship and bright personality will be missed by many at the Liederkranz. Rest in peace buddy and save me a space near the edge. Joe Eckenrode

August 27, 2017

Our sincere sympathy,  Leola Produce Auction

August 27, 2017

I’ve known Bob since college and he was a good friend with an amazingly carefree life style.  Once he retired he retired from public service was free to do whatever he enjoyed.  He had a great sense of humor and he was also a very good cook.  I wish I could have seen him more often but I haven’t lived in PA since 2007 and unfortunately any trips from Florida up north are always too short.  We even talked about going back to Thailand and he had some interesting coming of age stories when he was stationed in Thailand.  In one more year of Federal Service I aspire to take up where he left off.
He will be missed,
JJ Hughes
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

August 26, 2017

My dear friend my heart is breaking, sorry to see you leave so soon but thankful for our times together and your friendship. Rest in Peace Sir, until we meet again.

August 26, 2017

For a very short but important part of my life I enjoyed Bob’s friendship at the PSUVO Vets House at Penn State. I will always be grateful for those memories. Prayers for the family.

August 26, 2017

I salute my Comrade and Classmate. Thank you for all the smiles that you have given me in the past and for those in future at every time I think of you.  Rest in Peace my Dear Friend.  For the Glory,
Michael Kusuplos

August 26, 2017

Bob was a good friend to many including me. He is going to be sorely missed! The world needs more people like Bob Panco. 
-Jim Senft

Saturday, September 02, 2017
9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory
3110 Lititz Pike
Lititz, PA 17543
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017
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Indiantown Gap National Cemetery
Indiantown Road
Annville, pa
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