Robert C. Bixler, 73, a retired real estate lawyer and competitive equestrian who lived in Radnor, died Friday, Dec. 19, at the Heatherwood Retirement Center in Honeybrook, Chester County, of oral cancer.

Mr. Bixler spent more than 25 years working for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Co., helping to seal real estate deals that were part of the company's investment portfolio. One of the biggest purchases he helped to broker was a large hotel in Hawaii, his former wife of 22 years, Karen Ramsing-Bixler, said.

"I think he liked the challenges of working a deal, but he also was a very fair man," Ramsing-Bixler said. "He also really liked the people he worked with during that time."

When he wasn't working at the Radnor-based company, Mr. Bixler spent much of his time hunting and riding horses competitively. He hunted for ducks with his English springer spaniels and often vacationed in England. He especially enjoyed cross-country riding, a timed equestrian competition during which the horse and rider jump over various obstacles.

"Honestly, I've never seen him happier than when he was on a horse," Ramsing-Bixler said.

Born in Wilmington, Mr. Bixler grew up in Southwest Philadelphia with his mother in an apartment above a pharmacy on Whitby Avenue. As a youngster, he earned money on paper routes in the city. His mother, his former wife said, made a point of exposing Mr. Bixler to the cultural and educational opportunities in the city.

After attending West Catholic High School, he entered the Air Force at the age of 18, serving as a medic. He then earned his G.E.D. and studied political science at Temple University before receiving a law degree there in 1968.

Mr. Bixler started working for Fidelity Mutual that year and rose to a senior vice president position before retiring in 1995.

During his retirement, Mr. Bixler maintained his interest in horse riding and also supported his then-wife's involvement in the sport. She had competed in qualifying classes for the 1992 Olympics. Mr. Bixler also took pride in the large Georgian-style house he owned in Radnor.

"Bob certainly lived the American dream," Ramsing-Bixler said.

In addition to his former wife, Mr. Bixler is survived by three cousins.

A Funeral Mass was held on Tuesday, Dec. 23, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Springfield, Delaware County. Burial was at SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Marple Township.

bfinley@phillynews.com

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