A modern Renaissance man, Saint Joseph London chaplain Bob Combs has spent his life serving others, as a veteran, a former police officer, a chaplain and an artist.
Bob served as a police officer for 44 years, in Lexington, London and other Kentucky cities before starting at Saint Joseph London in 2010, where he was first a volunteer. He knew chaplaincy was his calling while he was serving in the Air Force as a member of the air police in North Africa.
“One of the base workers, who was [Muslim,] asked me why the GIs got so excited about Christmas, so I told him the Christmas story,” Bob said. “He had never heard about Christ being born, the angels in heaven singing. He asked, ‘where is he?’ So I told him the Easter story. That’s when I got serious about my Christianity.”
Bob returned from the military and worked for American Electric in Ashland, but found more fulfillment serving and protecting others as a police officer and police chaplain — a career that spanned four decades and several leadership positions.
Each day, Bob receives a list of prayer and chaplain requests from patients and families and makes his rounds with another chaplain to see patients, bringing comfort and prayer to those he encounters. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Bob has faced challenges seeing patients and keeping himself safe.
“I’ve tried my best to comfort patients and families [during the pandemic,]” Bob said. “We have had a hard time in London, with families who are suffering from COVID, and we try to stay safe.”
Outside of work as a chaplain, Bob is an accomplished and talented painter. He has published his illustrations and drawings in magazines, including “The Last Stagecoach” and “After the Parade,” two depictions of police life in Kentucky in the late 1800s.