Robin “Rob” Lee Hetrick, 65, of Midlothian, VA, passed away peacefully at Johnston Willis Hospital on Monday, February 5, 2024 at 9:42 am, surrounded by his loving family. Born in Three Rivers, Michigan on November 14, 1958, Rob was a man whose life was marked by dedication, love, and faith.
An accomplished athlete, Rob received a wrestling scholarship to attend Liberty Baptist College, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Education in 1981. That same year, he married the love of his life, Deborah “Debbi” Ann Ford, on May 23rd. Their marriage was a testament to a profound partnership and friendship that spanned over four decades. Rob began his career as a physical education teacher shortly after graduation, touching the lives of countless students for 38 years before retiring in 2020. Additionally, he was the founder and owner of Hetrick Painting, Inc., a family business that served as much as his ministry as it did a livelihood, allowing him to connect with people from all walks of life.
Rob was an avid surfer since his teen years in Florida, a passion he shared and passed on to his five children. Many of their fondest memories include summers spent on the coast, surfing the waves with their dad. Above all, Rob’s greatest passion was for relationships. He delighted in getting to know every person he met, fostering deep connections that transcended the superficial. This capacity for genuine connection meant Rob was deeply loved and will be profoundly missed by friends, students, employees, and most of all, his family.
Rob is survived by his wife of over 42 years, Debbi Ann Hetrick; his daughters, Kati Hetrick (39) and her wife Amy, Karilee Emerson (35) and her husband Peter, Kourtney Rae Hetrick (33), Kalli Gwaltney (30) and her husband Steven; his son, Kyle Hetrick (26); and his sister, Denise Hetrick. He was also a proud “Poppy” to Finley, Nolan and Sander Emerson, as well as Dawson and Lucy Robyn Gwaltney—his namesake—cherishing every moment spent with them. Rob’s life was a beacon of his unshakable faith in Jesus Christ, which informed his loving approach to relationships, always rooted in the love he received from his Heavenly Father. Rob poured this love into everyone he encountered, leaving a legacy of faith and relationships that will endure.
The family has chosen to take this time to grieve privately and will announce a formal celebration of Rob’s life at a later date, to be held at Chapel in Midlothian, VA. In honor of Rob’s life and legacy, they invite those who knew him to reflect on the joy and love he brought into their lives and to continue spreading this love in their own relationships.
Rob’s journey on earth may have concluded, but the ripples of his love, faith, and kindness will continue to be felt by all who had the privilege of knowing him.