Robert Russell Westby
APPLETON/LODI – Robert “Bob” Russell Westby, 87 of Appleton, Wisconsin passed away surrounded by his loving family at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin on Thursday, November 10, 2022.
Bob was born to Russell and Violet (Hazeltine) Westby on October 2, 1935, in Beloit, Wisconsin and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin. In youth, he was a Boy Scout with a host of jobs before he turned eighteen including paper carrier, assistant chicken sexer, short-order cook, grocery bag boy, floor scrubber, hay bailer, and detassler of corn. It was there too, during fourth-grade bible class, where he met his future high school sweetheart, Patricia “Pat” Mae Loveland. In 1955, she became his beloved wife, the mother of his children and partner in adventures too numerous to count, by car, Goldwing, or plane, until she preceded him in death in 2015.
Bob was driven by a civic duty that began in his youth and manifested early after high school as a police officer with the Janesville Police Department. After years on the Janesville Police force, and a Michigan State University degree in Criminology, he became a security supervisor, vocational program educator, county commissioner, including President of the Columbia County Board, advisor to the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, Law Enforcement Consultant with the Wisconsin Technical College System Board from which he retired in 1997, and member of numerous boards and community organizations.
Family recall he was a DIY expert who could fix anything, even where it should have been replaced. With a love of woodworking that he shared with his descendants; he assured sawdust would forever conjure his memory for whomever catches the scent. As a lifelong learner, he made stained glass, built a replica of a 1903 Oldsmobile car, learned to “play” the banjo, and created a few epic fire hazards while trying to cook. In more recent years, he memorialized many of his antics and adventures he loved to share in an unfinished but delightful memoir. As practical as he was a practical joker – he parlayed hobbies into various side ventures making plaques and awards with wood, laser, creativity, and skill that will continue to adorn many a mantle and wall for decades to come. He tried to never miss a performance, game, or other important events for a child, grandchild, or great-grandchild alike, and would drop anything and everything if he was needed by any family or friend, regardless of circumstance. Amid the extensive projects, traveling with Pat, and attentive parenting, he served his community – sometimes atop a snowmobile adorned as Santa, while maintaining notable friendships – with some childhood relationships spanning more than 80 years.
As a man with traditional views, he could be occasionally stubborn, however, his capacity for immeasurable and unconditional love led him to listen to younger generations and often change his perspective in support. Regardless of the paths chosen, he was proud of all his children’s accomplishments whether in academics, raising loving families themselves, or carrying on the “I can fix that” ethos begun by their father and passed along to their children.
Grandchildren remember he was the consummate, and occasionally long-winded, storyteller. His face might blush and eyes twinkle when he told a story that was shy of racy, but belied a lifetime lived with a slight mischievousness that endeared him to all. Whether he was dressing up the cement goose for a holiday, sending pithy communications to family, surprising colleagues with handmade gag gifts or dreaming up occasions to wear mustached glasses – his sense of humor and optimism were as integral to his life as his unimpeachable integrity and desire to serve others.
Anyone that knew Bob knows he was lost without his wife of 60 years. He never imagined that he would be fortunate enough to find love again when he moved from Lodi to Appleton in 2019. When remembering their short time together his partner Deloria remarked “…we had a greater love story in three years than most have in 30…” Until his last moment, he was a charmer, where his smile, manners and positive outlook would make people feel comfortable.
Bob leaves behind four children, Alan (Terri Spychalla) Westby, Charles “Chick” (Kim Barbeau) Westby, Robert “Robb” (Maggie Weir) Westby, and Dena (Bill) Mercer. He is also remembered by his grandchildren, Ryan (Kaaren Paras) Harrison, Teresa (Matt) Breitrick, Russell Westby, John (Carolyn “Callie” Baumeister) Westby, Sam Westby, Stephen Westby, Jonah “Robyn” (Lily Gonzalier) Re, Ian Mercer, Collin Mercer, and Lauren Mercer; his great-grandchildren, Sofia, Alexia “Lexy”, Nicholas “Nick,” and Reagan Harrison, Sophie and James Breitrick, and Jupiter Re; his loving partner. DeLoria Barron; his brother, Ronald Westby (Nancy Houle); many nieces, nephews, friends and colleagues. He was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia (nee Loveland) in 2015, his parents, and his granddaughter, Elizabeth Westby.
A Celebration of Bob’s Life will be held at LODI UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 130 Locust St., Lodi WI at 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 17, 2022, with the Reverend Peace Kim presiding. Visitation will be held at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service, with a luncheon to follow in the Fellowship Hall. A family burial will take place at a future date in Emerald Grove Cemetery, Emerald Grove, WI.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Wisconsin Professional Police Association Scholarship Program – https://wppa.com/scholarship-program/. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com
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