Robert Harris “Bob” DeZonia
Madison – Robert Harris “Bob” DeZonia, born May 22, 1930 in Fulton, KY, died peacefully on November 17, 2012 at Agrace Hospice following complications from hip-fracture surgery that led to a stroke.
Bob was at the forefront of higher education for the State of WI throughout his distinguished career, receiving legislative awards and commendations for his exemplary contributions. He was pivotal in establishing college tuition reciprocity in WI and MN, and ended his career as a consumer affairs administrator for the State of WI insurance commission.
Raised in Memphis TN and a graduate of Memphis State University, Bob began his migration north following completion of his English Journalism degree. Always on the educational frontier, he was one of the nation’s first to receive a PhD in Higher Educational Administration from the University of Illinois and it resulted in his move to Madison, the place that became the most beloved home base of his life.
After leading the State Coordinating Committee on Higher Education and serving as Chief Academic Affairs Officer and as a Deputy Director for the Wisconsin State University Board of Regents, Bob moved into the private sector, serving as a key aide for then-Governor Knowles’ Commission on Education and as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. His educational devotion resulted in his volunteer role as Madison School Board member and President for two terms. He then moved to South Dakota for four years, where he served as Commissioner of Higher Education and completed a year-long acting Presidency of University of SD. Bob was also a natural-born teacher, serving as a visiting lecturer throughout his career at UW-Madison, Marquette University, Northern Illinois University and University of SD.
Unable to get Madison out of his heart, Bob returned and completed his career serving the State of WI. His focus became his ever-growing family in Madison and Minnesota, alongside several other passionate loves of his life: bowling, military history, politics, Badger football and basketball, and the Green Bay Packers.
Bob’s prolific bowling career saw him attain a 200 average for more than ten years, a perfect 300 game, Presidency of the Madison Bowling Association and eventual induction into the Madison Bowling Association Hall of Fame. He was a bowling columnist for the Capital Times newspaper for years.
Married to his college sweetheart, Katherine “Tish” DeZonia, their marriage resulted in seven children. Bob is preceded in death by his eldest son, Robert F. “Bobby” DeZonia, and survived and adored as “Paw” by children Kathe Hocum, Anne-Marie Cookson, Suzanne (Tim) Mullen, Liz (Creighton) Hinkes, Jeanne (Mitch Snyder) Corcoran, and Barry DeZonia. Known as Grandpa / Grandpa Bob / Grandaddy / and Gramps, he is dearly loved and will be deeply missed by 19 grandchildren and their 7 spouses, 8 great-grandchildren, and one more on the way.
We have been blessed by the warm love and support of this big man with the silver hair and smiling brown eyes, and we will forever drink chocolate milk and eat peanut M&M’s in his honor.
Bob was extremely proud to serve our country in the Air Force during the Korean War. He will be laid to rest with full military honors at St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Verona following his funeral service.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Christopher Catholic Parish at the St. Andrew Catholic Church, 301 N. Main Street. Verona, WI, on Monday, November 26, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. with Father William Vernon and Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer presiding. Interment will follow at St. Andrews Cemetery. A visitation will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, on Sunday, November 25, 2012 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. and at church on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until time of the mass.
Memorials may be made to Agrace HospiceCare Inc. or the American Diabetes Association.
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