Life Story / Obituary
Bob Fankhauser was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. A caring nurturer, he cherished his years as a father and was delighted with the arrival of his grandchildren. Living his life as a wonderful example of following his faith, he turned many people’s hearts to the teachings of Jesus throughout his lifetime. As an ordained minister and deacon, Bob leaves behind a wonderful example of accepting all people with compassion. His warm personality and generous spirit will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
The year 1930 was significantly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression. Banks were still closed but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting. During the warm summer months, Fred and Reba (Logan) Fankhauser welcomed the arrival of their newborn son, Robert Norman, on July 21st in Marion, Michigan. Born third in the line of ten children, his birth brought much joy to the family during tough economic times.
Bob grew up on a family farm, teaching him the value of a hard day’s work at an early age. The property included an ice house, a sawmill, a small apple orchard, and a river that ran through the center providing a peaceful place for ice skating or swimming and bathing after a long day of caring for the animals and tending the crops. Bob dropped out of school because he was needed on the family farm. One night, while out roller skating at a local rink, he was introduced to Lucille Cole through a cousin. The two of them hit it off right from the start! Bob willingly served our country in the Marine Corps. While home on leave, he and Lucy joined in marriage in a small ceremony at First Baptist Church in Evart. Together they moved to where he was stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia. Bob worked primarily in the supply depot and was an excellent marksman during his years of service, November 1951-1953. During this time, they welcomed their first two children.
After he was discharged, Bob’s family moved to Jasper, MI where his older brother lived. He car pooled to work in Toledo at General Motors. They enjoyed these years in Jasper and the fellowship of Ridgeville Bible Church. In his spare time, Bob enjoyed boating and water skiing. He and Lucy welcomed their third child. They moved to Grand Rapids in 1963 when Bob was accepted at the Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music. He graduated in 1966 and later became an ordained minister. He enjoyed speaking at churches as pulpit supply. The whole family supported him by helping him with the music and listening to his drafts of sermons and readings. During these years, their family grew to include their youngest three children with an eight-year gap between them and the older three siblings. A strong provider during these years, Bob worked at Keeler Brass where he never took a single day off for eleven years!
In 1970 he and the family moved to Sand Lake. In 1976, Bob took a position of herdsman on Fisk Farms. He had a real love of farm life and a special knack for tending to the cows. Bob was known to play hymns in the milkhouse and his herd was able to produce the most milk of any other herd! A man of strict routine, he never wavered from his day to day rituals and kept them on the same schedule year-round even during the daylight savings time! Whenever he had any amount of time off, the family enjoyed traveling to Minnesota, St. Louis, and Pennsylvania visiting the older children. He and Lucy also shared a love of helping others in need and became quite active in Victory Baptist Church. Bob enjoyed serving as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and youth group leader, as well as being a member of the board of the Fort Faith Baptist Youth Camp.
After a near death experience in 2002, Bob retired from Fisk Farms. He spent the next chapter of his life working as a custodian at Cedar Springs Public Schools. He was well-loved by the staff and students alike. Every so often he would still sneak over to the farm and enjoy visiting with the Fisk family. He also treasured his monthly breakfasts with his sons and catching up with them. Bob was an avid outdoorsman and also enjoyed hunting well into his later years. He moved in with his daughter when Lucy passed away in April, 2018. Later, Bob went to live at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and greatly treasured every visit from family and friends! Bob leaves behind a wonderful collection of beautiful memories and special moments shared with his loved ones. May his unconditional love for each of them be etched on their hearts and may his memories be eternal.
Robert N. “Bob” Fankhauser, age 89, of Grand Rapids and formerly of Sand Lake, went home to be with his Lord and Savior on May 5, 2020. He was preceded in death by his wife, Lucille “Lucy;” son-in-law, Alan Vickery; sisters and brother Anna Marie Brocht, Jack Fankhauser, and Ruthanne Fankhauser; and granddaughters Amanda & Krista Fankhauser. Bob is survived by his children, Denise and Al Strong, Denny and Wendy Fankhauser, Marcia and Jim Carrier, Darice and Charles Robertson, Doug and Amy Jo Fankhauser, Ryan Fankhauser; many grandchildren and great grandchildren; brothers and sisters, Stanley “Sam” (Gladys) Fankhauser, Rena “Bea” (John) Niepoetter, Mary (Bob) Elsey, Paul “Bud” (Sylvia) Fankhauser, William “Bill” (Ruthann) Fankhauser, and Charles Fankhauser, as well as many nieces and nephews. The service to remember and celebrate Bob’s life will be held on a later date when family and friends can gather. For those who wish, memorial contributions to a ministry of their choice will be greatly appreciated. To share a memory or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com.