Robert Finley Stone, “Bobby” to family and friends, died while doing one of his favorite things: spending time with friends boating on Lake Chickamauga.
Although the Chattanooga native, 56, was probably best known as a philanthropist and the (retired) co-founder of Atomic Films, Bobby was also a renaissance man. He was a pianist, a photographer, an adventurous cook, an award-winning cinematographer, a sailor, a storyteller, a 3-D printing aficionado, an animal advocate and a handyman. His greatest talent was being a thoughtful, loyal, passionate, and generous man: a mentor to the young, an advocate to the disadvantaged, a rescuer to four-legged creatures, a nephew, a brother, a cousin, a son, a “best friend” to many.
Bobby was a graduate of Baylor School and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga before co-founding Atomic Films in 1987 and he produced multiple award-winning videos for over twenty-five years. He was also a committed public servant. He volunteered thousands of hours, spoke on behalf of the disadvantaged, shot countless hours of videos for causes near and far, and raised the bar on what it meant to love your community and this planet. Throughout his life, Bobby served on multiple non-profit boards -- the Association for Visual Artists, the Tivoli Theatre Foundation, Chattanooga Cares, Cornerstones and the Finley Stadium Board.
Bobby’s friendship was a gift to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Between old friends from high school and college, Atomic films clients and other people involved in community efforts, Bobby’s network circle was as wide as it was deep. “We’ll never know all the wonderful things Bobby did for other people,” said one of Bobby’s friends. He consistently gave his talents, resources, heart and laughter. He aided the Brainerd High School band for their broken or expired instruments, he sent postcards to the widows in his neighborhood letting them know that he would help, he gave to the McKamey Animal Center for feeding and warming the pets waiting for adoption, and he shot and edited multiple videos for charitable events such as the American Heart Association’s Ball. These accomplishments would be on par for him with patrolling the neighborhood streets for litter, driving an injured stranger home, taking his beloved Nana out to Zarzour’s for a burger, and teaching children how to take photographs.
Bobby loved the children brought into his life by family and friends. He was the favorite uncle of his brother Billy’s two children, Rebecca and Sarah, and was also known as “Big Guy” by his cousin Meg’s five daughters. He semi-adopted many other children, whether he knew it or not, because he was an inspiration and mentor to all.
Bobby’s passion for the arts, such as food, drinks, music, or visual arts, was contagious. He would share the newest ramen spot, the hidden hot dog joint, or the most balanced cocktail at the bar with his friends. From playing Ray Charles’ albums to his baby grand, he would turn any person into a music lover. Many will now struggle to visit his favorite spots without sensing his absence: Zarzour’s daily special, Super Carniceria LOA #7’s tacos, Robar’s gimlets, or Boccaccia’s pasta Bolognese. We will miss his “light,” both on film and in life. Bobby’s infectious laughter, committed public service, passionate spirit, and love for life captured all of our hearts.
Bobby was family to many people. He was predeceased by his mother, Judith Finley Stone, his father, William M. Stone, his grandparents, W. Max and Margaret Finley; and Milton Dair and Thelma Stone.
He is survived by his aunt, Millicent Stone Wilson, siblings, William M. Stone III (Kelly), Catherine Dianne Stone, and Cynthia Dair Stone; his nieces, Rebecca Stone Dryden (Nathan), Sarah Elizabeth Stone; and grand nephews, Gresham Finley Dryden and Francis Broadus Dryden. Bobby is also survived by extended family who were close to him: his aunt, Cynthia Finley Anderson and deceased uncle, Stephen Griffith Anderson, his cousins - Ruskin Gregory Anderson (Alice), and Margaret Anderson Lavender (Blake) along with their daughters, aka Bobby’s “nieces,” Victoria Corryne Lavender, Alexandra Claire Lavender, Cynthia Ferrell Lavender, Frances Elizabeth Lavender and Nathalie Grace Lavender.
A memorial service for Bobby will be held at 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, at Rivermont Presbyterian Church, 3319 Hixson Pike, Chattanooga, with the Rev. Dr. Clay Thomas officiating.
Condolences will be accepted online at www.wannfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in memoriam to Rivermont Presbyterian Church, your Northside Neighborhood House, your local pound or animal shelter, Southern Poverty Law Center, or the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti.
Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home & Cremation Center 423 821-7551.
Please share your memories, stories and photos at www.wannfuneralhome.com.