Eight Bells: Bob Chilton

Published on September 29th, 2021

James Edward Robert ‘Bob’ Chilton III died September 26 following an automobile accident near his home in West Palm Beach, FL. He was 86 years.

A native of Texas, he began sailing as a boy on inland lakes and got into racing in the C Scow Class, moving into Quarter Tonners in which he competed in North American and World Championships. His competitive fire would then include the Lightning and J/24 classes

Bob had been chairman of Chilton Corporation, one of the nation’s largest consumer credit rating agencies based in Dallas. Considered a “Renaissance man”, he was an artist, photographer, sailor, businessman, investor, philanthropist, husband and father but most of all, for giving generously of his time, talents, and wealth to make the world a better place.

Bob once said he likes to invest in the future. And that’s exactly what he did back in 2012 when he gifted $2.5 million to the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. It is the second largest donation the Y has ever received in its 130 plus-year history and allowed for substantial capital improvements to the Rockwall County YMCA – now the J.E.R Chilton YMCA at Rockwall.

He grew up swimming at the YMCA and continued to support the organization in his later years. In the 1990s, he made major donations to the Rockwall YMCA and the White Rock YMCA. He was a strong supporter of the Y because he firmly believed in the values it teaches – values like honesty, integrity, responsibility, and good sportsmanship.

In addition to being a champion sailor, he had a passion for croquet. He won multiple Masters Singles and Double Championships, and was inducted into the United States Croquet Hall of Fame. He also served as past president of the Croquet Foundation of America.

In 1990, Chilton made a transatlantic crossing on his 100-foot yacht, Royal Eagle II, in an attempt to break a record. Chilton, along with Rockwall-area sailors Bryan Davis and Rusty Jackson, made their voyage using the route pioneered by Christopher Columbus from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to the West Indies in 13 days and six hours – just shy of the record-setting 12.5 days set by a similar yacht.

Chilton is survived by his wife Missy, son Bill, and his granddaughter Jaclyn.

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