Robert H. “Bob” Mincer, the second generation owner of a family-owned and -operated business that has been a fixture on the Corner for nearly 65 years, died of cancer at his home Monday. He was 77.
In 1985, Mincer was awarded the first small businessman of the year award by the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. In a Daily Progress story that year which profiled a hectic day in the shop, Mincer seemed to take the day-to-day challenges of small business life in stride.
“That’s the life of the small businessman — putting out one fire after another,” Mincer said.
Mincer was born in Asheville, N.C., on Oct. 14, 1935. In 1958, he graduated from UVa with a bachelor’s degree from the McIntire School of Commerce. He then received a commission as a lieutenant in the Army, receiving an honorable discharge in 1966.
In 1960, he joined his late father, Robert W. Mincer, as an official partner at the store, which was then known as Mincer’s Humidor. He took over the store upon his father’s retirement in 1972. Bob Mincer’s son, Mark, runs the store today.
“[He] was so passionate and so concerned about the well being of university students,” said Mark Lorenzoni, a longtime friend and founder of Ragged Mountain Running Shop, another Corner business. “He was willing to work hard and not everyone who owns a business today is necessarily willing to do that.”
The store changed its focus through the years. It was named Mincer’s Pipe Shop for several years, citing the declining popularity of smoking, Mincer’s stopped selling tobacco products altogether and shifted its focus instead to Uva-themed merchandise in 1993. Today the store is officially known as Mincer’s University of Virginia Imprinted Sportswear.
In the 1990s, when development and crime threatened the stability and character of the neighborhood, Lorenzoni said Mincer, known by many as “mayor of the Corner” asked for him advice on how to get things back on track.
“That affirmation, those words meant a lot to me,” Lorenzoni, a New Jersey, native said. “Here was this man, saying to this younger Yankee ‘I respect your opinions and respect your presence.’ For me, that meant a lot. … He is that businessperson that exemplifies what can be good about small family-owned business.”
Barbara Mincer said her late husband’s mutual respect for Lorenzoni and dedication to the greater good permeated all aspects of his life.
“He was very caring, very active in his church and in all kinds of civic organizations, and a very good husband and father and grandfather,” she said. “He did it all, as far as I’m concerned. He is going to be missed by tons of people.”
“Bobby Mincer was quite a Virginia gentlemen,” another longtime friend, Gary O’Connell, executive director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, said by email. “Always upbeat and positive. He was a promoter of Charlottesville and especially the Corner. I had the pleasure to work with him over the years, and enjoyed that smile and a get it done attitude he carried.”
In addition to his wife and son, survivors include, a daughter, Ellen Mincer of Winston-Salem, N.C.; a sister, Clara Mincer, five stepchildren and 13 grandchildren.
The family will receive visitors from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hill and Wood Funeral Home, 201 N. First St., Charlottesville. A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.