Robert “Bob” William Brodbeck, 88, of Grant, Nebraska went to be home with Jesus on Nov. 15, 2018.
Born Nov. 25, 1929, to father Herman “Bill” S. Brodbeck and mother Wilmina Mildred Bell Brodbeck, Bob lived a life dedicated to loving and serving those around him. Ever the jokester and always out to make others smile, Bob proudly proclaimed daily to his friend, Connie, when the “see you tomorrows” were said, “I’ll probably be here!” Before he passed, he told his beloved wife, Donna Powell Saum Brodbeck, that “the best is yet to come.” And it is now so.
Bob was born on Jim Bell’s ranch southwest of Grant. He fondly remembered growing up in a sod house with the smell of homemade cookies and fresh-baked bread. Bob rode horseback to school through the third grade and then moved to Grant to help his grandparents run the town’s theater café.
Bob’s parents moved to Denver where Bob attended school for two years and then moved back to Nebraska to live with his grandparents. He graduated from Lexington High School in Lexington, Neb., in 1948.
On Sept. 27, 1948, Bob enlisted in the Air Force where he made his life’s career. For the first year and a half of his service, he worked as Clerk Typist at Fairfield Air Force Base in California. He then cross-trained into Airborne Weather in 1950 flying WB-29s. In 1952, Bob transferred to Puerto Rico and began as a Weather Gunner flying B-50s.
He stayed there until 1953 when he returned to the States to Forbes Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas. It was there he met his late wife, Vivian Knox.
In February 1954, Bob and Vivian were married and transferred to West Palm Beach, Florida, where their first son, Christopher Brodbeck, was born. Bob was then discharged but reenlisted in 1956 flying B-36 Bombers at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, South Dakota. There, Bob and Vivian were blessed with a second son, Michael Brodbeck.
In 1957, the Brodbeck family was transferred back to Puerto Rico, and they remained there until the B-36 Bombers were replaced by B-52s in 1959. At that time, Bob and his family were sent to Plattsburgh Air Force Base in upstate New York where Bob retrained as Boom Operator (Inflight Refueling Operator) in KC-97 aircraft.
In 1963, those aircraft were upgraded to KC-135s, and the Brodbecks headed to March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif.
In 1967, Bob retired from flying and moved to Air Force Recruitment. During his 17 years of flying as combat-ready crew, Bob’s temporary duty locations included Alaska, Guam, Iceland, Greenland, Texas, Nevada, Hawaii, England, and North Africa. Bob’s first duty station in Air Force Recruitment was in Fargo, North Dakota. He and his family then transferred to Wichita, Kansas and remained there until 1973 when Bob was promoted and moved to Omaha, Neb.
In his last year of service with duty, Bob served as Base Sergeant Major at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. In 1975, Bob “semi-retired” to Derby, Kansas where he worked as a sales representative for a private college and later as an Army Reserve Recruitment Officer.
In 1983, Bob and Vivian moved to Phoenix, Arizona where Bob worked for Arizona State Job Service in the Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program. The Brodbecks stayed there for five years and then returned to Derby, Kansas.
Bob’s wife, Vivian, passed away in September 1998 after almost 45 years of marriage.
In April of 1999, after Bob fell and fractured his back, his cousin, Dorothy Wykert, saw Donna (Powell) Saum at the Post Office and suggested she send Bob a card since he was feeling down. Bob and Donna had dated for a short time after her high school graduation and before Bob entered the Air Force.
Bob wrote in a letter to the family, “I received her letter, answered it, and after a period of time and several trips to Grant and stays at the Super 8 in Ogallala, we became engaged and were married on Dec. 10, 2000. I’ve been a resident of Grant since then.” In Grant, Bob was a member of Congregational Church where he served as a Deacon.
Bob loved his coffee as he reported drinking a minimum of eight cups of strong, black coffee per day. Additionally, he convinced grandson, Jeremy, to sneak him a large jug of Mogen David wine into his nursing home. Upon finding that this was a bad idea, Bob’s response was, “Well… can’t hurt to try again sometime.” He joked about these “golden years” and told his grandchildren, “Can’t eat, can’t chew, can’t pee, can’t…” Well, you can fill in the rest if you knew Grandpa Bob.
Today, we celebrate his life and the fact that he is undoubtedly sporting that handsome Air Force uniform once again. Aim High, Bob.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Bill and Wilmina Brodbeck; first wife, Vivian Knox; and son, Michael Brodbeck.
Bob is survived by his wife of nearly 18 years, Donna (Powell) Saum Brodbeck of Grant; son, Christopher Brodbeck of Wichita, Kansas; daughter-in-law, Terri Brodbeck of Bellevue, Neb.; step-daughter, Pamela (Randy) Koch of Cozad, Neb.; grandson, Jeremy (Bailey) Koch of Cozad; granddaughter, Jennifer (Jim) Louthan of Lincoln; granddaughter, Jacqui (Austin) Hendrickson of Riverdale, Neb.; great-grandsons, Hudson and Asher Koch of Cozad; and countless more family and friends.
A memorial has been established in Bob’s memory for later designation. Condolences may be shared at bullocklongfuneralhome.com.
Memorial services were held on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church in Grant with Denise Johnson officiating. Inurnment will be at Derby, Kansas at a later date.
Bullock-Long Funeral Home of Grant is in charge of arrangements.