Photography
Official Obituary of

Robert Ward Bitz

June 17, 2023

Robert Bitz Obituary

Born in Syracuse, NY on September 16, 1930, Robert (Bob) grew up on a farm of 71 acres near Plainville that was purchased by his great-great grandfather, William Ward, in 1835. He attended the two-room school in Plainville for eight years, followed by four years at Baldwinsville Academy, and then graduated from Cornell University where he was a member of Alpha Zeta Fraternity.

Following college, Bob returned to the Plainville farm to work with his father. A year later he married Janice Abbott who he met in high school. They had three children and lived on the family farm until 2013 when they moved to a retirement community. Bob loved the farm and farming. He felt blessed to grow up on a farm and wished that more children had that opportunity today. He also appreciated using many farming methods of the past several centuries and then during his adult life participating in the rapid changes taking place.                  

The family farm had a small dairy herd for over 100 years and grew a variety of crops including corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, and tobacco. Beginning in 1923, Bob’s father and grandfather started growing turkeys in addition to the other crops. Twenty years later, most of the other crops were eliminated and the turkey enterprise had become the largest in New York State. Bob pioneered the further process of turkeys into numerous ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat turkey products.

Plainville Turkey products became famous for their taste and quality. In 1973, Bob opened the Plainville Farms Restaurant in Cicero. Over time, this restaurant became a regular destination for people living up to two hours away. Later, Bob opened another Plainville Farms restaurant on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse, and one on West Genesee St. in Camillus. He also had a fast-food turkey restaurant at the Great Northern and Fayetteville Malls, as well as one in the Sports’ Center near Baldwinsville.

After turning over the turkey farm to his son Mark in the early 1990s, Bob traveled a lot and started writing books about local history, agriculture, and the farm. He published 12 books including Four Hundred Years of Agricultural Change in the Empire State, The 375 Year Journey of One Family, and Onondaga County Post Offices and the Postal System.

Bob held offices in the Plainville Christian Church and was a trustee of the Plainville Rural Cemetery Association for over 50 years. He served on the Baldwinsville Central Schools Board of Education for 10 years, as a trustee of the Baldwinsville Library, as a member of the Town of Lysander Planning Board, and as a member of the Town of Lysander Town Board. Bob was a Director of the Seneca Saving and Loan Association, of the Farm Credit Bank of Northern NY, and of the Farm Credit Bank of Springfield. He served on the Small Business and Agriculture Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

He was President of the Cornell Agriculture Alumni Association and was recognized as an outstanding College of Agriculture alumnus. Bob was a Cornell University Trustee, named a Trustee Emeritus, and received the Frank Rhodes Exemplary Alumnus of Cornell Award. Bob was director and president of LEAD New York, a program for the development of agriculture leaders, and served as President and Director of the NY State Agricultural Society. In the 1990’s, he received its prestigious, Service to NY Agriculture Award.

Bob is survived by his three children; Cynthia Bowen (Sean), sons Mark (Lou), and Bruce; granddaughters, Rebecca Bowen and Elizabeth Bowen; grandsons Karl (Kristi) and Asher (Kalee); four great grandchildren; his sister Ruth Dettbarn; and several nieces and nephews. A private memorial service was held by the family. Donations in Bob’s memory may be made to the Syracuse Home Foundation, Beaver Lake Nature Center, or the Plainville Christian Church.

Born in Syracuse, NY on September 16, 1930, Robert (Bob) grew up on a farm of 71 acres near Plainville that was purchased by his great-great grandfather, William Ward, in 1835. He attended the two-room school in Plainville for eight years, followed by four years at Baldwinsville Academy, and then graduated from Cornell University where he was a member of Alpha Zeta Fraternity.

Following college, Bob returned to the Plainville farm to work with his father. A year later he married Janice Abbott who he met in high school. They had three children and lived on the family farm until 2013 when they moved to a retirement community. Bob loved the farm and farming. He felt blessed to grow up on a farm and wished that more children had that opportunity today. He also appreciated using many farming methods of the past several centuries and then during his adult life participating in the rapid changes taking place.                

The family farm had a small dairy herd for over 100 years and grew a variety of crops including corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, and tobacco. Beginning in 1923, Bob’s father and grandfather started growing turkeys in addition to the other crops. Twenty years later, most of the other crops were eliminated and the turkey enterprise had become the largest in New York State. Bob pioneered the further process of turkeys into numerous ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat turkey products.

Plainville Turkey products became famous for their taste and quality. In 1973, Bob opened the Plainville Farms Restaurant in Cicero. Over time, this restaurant became a regular destination for people living up to two hours away. Later, Bob opened another Plainville Farms restaurant on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse, and one on West Genesee St. in Camillus. He also had a fast-food turkey restaurant at the Great Northern and Fayetteville Malls, as well as one in the Sports’ Center near Baldwinsville.

After turning over the turkey farm to his son Mark in the early 1990s, Bob traveled a lot and started writing books about local history, agriculture, and the farm. He published 12 books including Four Hundred Years of Agricultural Change in the Empire State, The 375 Year Journey of One Family, and Onondaga County Post Offices and the Postal System.

Bob held offices in the Plainville Christian Church and was a trustee of the Plainville Rural Cemetery Association for over 50 years. He served on the Baldwinsville Central Schools Board of Education for 10 years, as a trustee of the Baldwinsville Library, as a member of the Town of Lysander Planning Board, and as a member of the Town of Lysander Town Board. Bob was a Director of the Seneca Saving and Loan Association, of the Farm Credit Bank of Northern NY, and of the Farm Credit Bank of Springfield. He served on the Small Business and Agriculture Advisory Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

 

He was President of the Cornell Agriculture Alumni Association and was recognized as an outstanding College of Agriculture alumnus. Bob was a Cornell University Trustee, named a Trustee Emeritus, and received the Frank Rhodes Exemplary Alumnus of Cornell Award. Bob was director and president of LEAD New York, a program for the development of agriculture leaders, and served as President and Director of the NY State Agricultural Society. In the 1990’s, he received its prestigious, Service to NY Agriculture Award.

Bob is survived by his three children; Cynthia Bowen (Sean), sons Mark (Lou), and Bruce; granddaughters, Rebecca Bowen and Elizabeth Bowen; grandsons Karl (Kristi) and Asher (Kalee); four great grandchildren; his sister Ruth Dettbarn; and several nieces and nephews. A private memorial service was held by the family. Donations in Bob’s memory may be made to the Syracuse Home Foundation, Beaver Lake Nature Center, or the Plainville Christian Church.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Robert Ward Bitz, please visit our floral store.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Robert Ward Bitz?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Robert's memory.
Email
Print
Copy

Services

You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family, or by planting a memorial tree in the memory of Robert Ward Bitz
SHARE OBITUARY

© 2024 Gates Funeral Home, Inc.. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility