Robert (Bob) James Gibbons, age 94, died Sunday, March 5, 2023 at River Pines Long Term Care in Altoona, WI. Bob was born on April 5, 1928 in La Crosse, WI to Arthur (Gib) Gibbons and Marion Gibbons (nee Werner).
His father was a railroad man and his mother, a school teacher. Bob was an only child and had an idyllic childhood playing on the shores of the Mississippi river. He lived in Lynxville, WI until he was 10 years old. The family then moved to Alma, WI. He was surrounded with hard working, patient and kind parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, religious leaders and scout leaders. These traits were passed on to Bob. Bob spent his free time in the summer playing soft ball and in the winter, playing hockey. He participated in high school basketball and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. When he was young, he helped his dad with loading and unloading supplies at the railroad depot and helped his grandparents on their farm in Diamond Bluff, WI.
Bob was a serious student that excelled in his studies, especially in math. He was a co-salutatorian in his High School class in Alma, WI. Bob attended college at UW - Madison where he earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Naval Science. While in college, Bob was in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) from 1946 to 1950. He was on Active Duty in the U.S. Navy serving from 1951 to 1954 and he was a member of the Navy Reserve serving from 1954 to 1962. Bob had reached the rank of Lieutenant at the time of his discharge. During the summers while in NROTC he would go on midshipmen cruises to various locations, typically in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Upon graduation, his Active Duty service took him mostly to the Mediterranean Sea where he served as an officer on the USS Bennington, an aircraft carrier.
Bob met his first wife, Betty Eggers, at UW Madison and they married on May 10, 1952. Betty and Bob were raising their 2 young children in La Crosse when Betty tragically passed away at age 30. His parents stepped in and helped him care for his children for 3 years. In 1961, he was introduced to Germaine (Potter) by a neighbor and they were married on July 22, 1961. She too was a widow with 3 young children. Their combined family moved to Eau Claire, where their 6th child was born. They designed their Eau Claire home to accommodate their family of 8. He loved his home, where he was able to stay until his last month of life. Bob worked for Northern States Power for 36 years and retired from his General Manager position in 1990. He was told more than once by a former employee that he was the best boss they ever had. Bob and Germaine enjoyed traveling before retirement, but after 1990, they took their global travels to a whole new level with trips to Russia, China, Australia, etc. They returned to France often to visit Germaine's family and for over 20 years spent the winter months in Naples, Florida.
No one was a better example of how to live one's life. He was generous, kind and gentle. He parented with unlimited patience, never a complaint or a hint of frustration. As a father, he celebrated our accomplishments and provided gentle guidance when needed. When navigating big life decisions, he would sit down with us and list pros and cons on a sheet of paper. He stressed the value of education. He was proud of all his children and grandchildren, and was especially tickled when some chose engineering careers. Bob was always a busy man, but somehow never appeared rushed. Bob made time to take his children canoeing, skiing, skating, swimming, and Camping. In the summer, he would load up his family in the station wagon for cross country trips planned down to the minute. The only deviation from his itinerary would be an occasional stop to view an electrical substation or hydroelectric power station.
Bob showed his love through unwavering support, encouragement and guidance. He was involved in every aspect of his children's and grandchildren's lives. He loved them all unconditionally. He enjoyed the outdoors, reading, photography and genealogy. He thought watching T.V. was a waste of time, with the exception of Packer games. Bob was a numbers man, so in later years, he liked doing Sudokus and playing Rummikub with family.
Over the years, Bob volunteered with both his church and Boy Scouts. He was the person that others trusted and relied upon when they were widowed, disabled or elderly. He provided assistance to a number of friends and relatives with everything from their finances, transportation, moving, household tasks and even estate and funeral planning. Bob provided or coordinated care for his disabled step daughter from the day she entered his life until the day she died. For 60 years he was on call 24/7 in an emergency, and there were plenty of emergencies. He loved to tease her and she loved to tease him back. They loved each other very much. Before his wife, Germaine, passed away; he tenderly cared for her in their home as long as he possibly could.
Bob was always well liked by everyone he encountered. He was a good man through and through. He took a genuine interest in others and never had a bad word to say about anyone. Up until his last days, he maintained his good natured sense of humor which was often times revealed when you least expected it.
Bob is survived by his children, Steve (Gail) Potter, Jim (Lorrie) Gibbons, Kevin (Joy) Potter, Connie (Rich) Trebesch, Michelle (Greg) Lindstedt. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his wives, Betty and Germaine Gibbons, his daughter, Monique Potter and his grandson, Chad Potter.
The family wishes to thank the very caring and compassionate staff of River Pines Long Term Care and St Croix Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or an organization supporting individuals with disabilities.
Funeral service will be held on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 10:30 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1314 E. Lexington Blvd, Eau Claire, WI 54701. Pastor Patrick Patterson will officiate. Visitation will take place on Monday from 9:30 am until the time of services. Interment with military honors will take place in the Woodlawn Cemetery in La Crosse, Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13, 2023.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.
Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701 is assisting the family with the arrangements.
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