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Welcome to the memorial page for

Robert "Bob" Allen Whitman

May 28, 1935 ~ December 23, 2017 (age 82)

The Piano Brothers
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Bob left us on Saturday December 23, 2017, as a result of Mesothelioma in the company of his loving family. Bob was born on May 28, 1935 to Catherine and Rollie Whitman in Appleton, WI. Bob is survived by his lovely wife Terrie, his 4 Children, 10 Grandchildren and 11 Great Grandchildren: Son Michael (Tracy), Brook (Travis) Kickhaver, Kendal, Emmy and Brody and Sarah Whitman, Fynn. Daughter Leona Whitman, Travis (Beth) Wolter; Emily Wolter; Jacob (Jacy) Wolter, Ava. Son Scott (Lori) Whitman, Linsi (Betty) Whitman-Allen, June; Leesa (Ryan) Blank; Lucas Whitman. Daughter Cathrin (Lonnie) Bougie, Brandon Bougie, Dominick, Cathrin, Logan; Justin (Celena) Bougie, Dexter; Casey Bougie (Ed Immel).  Bob is further survived by 2 sisters: Jean Tatum and Shay (Charles) Cooper; sister-in-law Kathy Whitman; step-brother Dean (Jackie) Ritchey; nieces and nephews. Bob was preceded in death by his brother Richard.

 I attended school at St Mary’s in Appleton, then MPB, New London in 1942. My mother, Catherine, died of ruptured appendix in 1943 when I was 8 years with 3 younger siblings.  In 1945 the family moved to rural Weyauwega with a new Mother in tow (Nee Matas Delorious Ritchey Whitman) she was as fine a woman as any man could have desired and she had her hands full I’m sure!  Memories are not one of my main suits so they are sketchy at best.  I attended Evenswood School about 3 miles from the farm 4th through 8th grade.  I have the book “Rural Schools of Waupaca Co.” we are on page 303.  I then attended Weyauwega High until I reach the age of 16 the middle of my sophomore year.  I determined there were better and more exciting things to do than school!  In retrospect it was a very poor decision.  However here is the rest of the story. 

Radtke’s Bowling was the ‘to go’ spot, plus a few other establishments, who didn’t care how old you were to imbibe.  I worked on 3 different farms for a dollar a day plus room and board and also at a lumber yard.  Whenever I quit a job I’d move back home.  Proprietor Rollie, my father, finally yelled at me for the last time for making noise at who knows what time in the morning.  I knew my best friend Carl Danke was leaving the next day for Milwaukee to enlist in the USAF.  I was determined to go also, which I did, and began my USAF Career on March 4th 1954.  After basic training I was sent to Sacramento, CA to train as a teletype operator.  Learned to type quite well I might add.  From there I was assigned to Ramstein AB, Germany where I arrived by ship in November 1954. I was supposed to go to Vienna to a base there, however the AF was getting rid of teletype operators so I was assigned to Munich.  After 1 year I was reassigned to Ramstein where I spent the next 3 years in personnel services.    

In late 1956 I met a German gal, Ottilie Wunsch, and one thing led to another and soon was told I was to become a Father!  Well now, to marry and get a Visa took a long time. I was due to rotate back to states in March 1958.  We finally were allowed to get married in Sept 1957 which was also the month Michael was born.  When we finally got out of there Mike was just an infant. We had to ride in Military Air Craft, had trouble, and had to stay in England a couple of days, not a good thing traveling with an infant for sure. 

We arrived in the states and I was discharged.  We traveled back to Weyauwega to the farm.  This was not going to work as jobs were scarce. 30 days later I re-enlisted.  We were sent to Willow Run AFS, in Warren, MI.  Where we were stationed for a year, just enough time for Leona to be born.  Then the AF decided they needed us at Traux Field in Madison.  Didn’t hurt my feelings.  Had 3 more years on this assignment, time enough for Scott and Cathrin to be born.  Time to stop being a good Catholic.  4 children in 5 years and they were talking I needed to get assigned somewhere else. Ottie and I both enjoyed Air Force life, but she had developed Myasthenia Gravis. With 4 children under the age of 5 and due to rotate overseas we determined that she would be unable to care for them alone and I was granted an honorable discharged. 

My father had moved to Appleton and was in the gas station and fuel oil delivery business and he agreed to take me on.  Ottie and I bought a house on Foster St where we raised the children.  From 1965 to 1989 I was proud to serve as an Appleton Fire Fighter serving 24+ years.  It was a great career and I loved my job.

I always had an affinity for water, so in 1974 we purchased a cottage on Anderson Lake near Suring.  We had many happy days where we enjoyed playing, fishing and remodeling the cabin.  We sold the cabin in 1987. 

Besides helping raise the kids while on the fire department, I worked for Honeywell, painted houses, etc. I was also interested in antiques, especially toys. I attended auctions, traded/bought/sold at shows in Chicago, Princeton, and Shawano, and even in various antique shops.  That has continued on E-bay until recently.

In 1992 I bought 30 acres (didn’t even walk the property over) on The Little Wolf River near Manawa.  I always needed a project with plenty of brush to cut (good therapy!)  This property had over a ½ mile of river frontage.  One day I decided to explore and just see what I had.  To my surprise there seemed to be enough Cedar Logs to build a log cabin.  The only thing I had ever built was a lean-to. I needed someone to help me.  That man turned out to be James Thiel from Manawa who had experience.  I talked to him and we reached an agreement. Well, how was I going to get them out of the swamp? It just so happened I met a pair of brothers with horses who were willing to get the logs out of the woods!  I cut over 300 trees, mostly Cedar, large white pine and a lot of white birch for flooring and cupboards.  I found a man with a band saw to shape and cut these trees. After the logs dried for 2 winters Jim and I started on the half-log-siding 3 car garage with a workshop. The building is about 24 x 90 ft. For a few years the workshop served as my kitchen. I made a bedroom over the workshop with a walkout porch. Of course there was a log outhouse as well!

In 1997 the house was started using full logs.  Jim was an expert for constructing the corners for they were tricky!  We usually laid one row a day. The log home was 24x30 ft. with a half loft for a bedroom and bathroom. We had a full lower level as well, fully finished and a 3rd. bathroom! I tell you, for a guy that never built a thing, peeling all those logs with a drawshave was a challenge! I must say I got quite good at it.  In 1999 I moved in.  I have to give a lot of credit to my son Mike as he worked for WE Energy and had contractors working for them. Mike talked them into letting him use the backhoe and truck for a weekend.  We moved tons and tons of soil and also did some of the driveway which was ½ mile long itself.  He also did the electrical and roofing.  He spent one whole night digging a trench to the road so we could bury the electric cable.  Thanks Mike!

In 2000 I met a girl transplanted from southern Ohio, Terrie Hollingshead Pralat. A warm bond developed between us, with only a few ups and downs. The more we experienced the more we realized what a good team we were and Love blossomed.

One winter day in early 2009 as I was walking the half mile to pick up my mail with snow up to my butt, I thought ‘what the hell am I doing here??’.  That fall   Terrie and I to travel ‘The Villages’ in Florida.  I had seen their on TV; it looked good so we went to see what was available. I was so impressed on 4th day we made an offer on a house.  That November 2009, we closed and I moved to Florida determined to spend my winters there.  In the mean time I sold my log home to my daughter in 2011--- a big time city gal, who now has two gardens and raises chickens!

I wanted to spend all year there, the golf was great, card group 3 times a week, all golf cart accessible, weather great, etc. But Terrie was unable to spend much time away from family.  I finally realized life without Terrie was just not right so I sold the Florida home in 2015.  Again, we needed to get back to the water.  In 2012 as luck would have it an 11 acres with a home and 2600 feet of frontage on the South Branch of the Little Wolf came on the market.  As we drove onto the property we couldn’t believe it was exactly what we were looking for.  I was so determined to purchase this property that we did not leave until a full priced offer was written.  A new adventure began!  There was so much brush to cut it kept me busy for 5 years. At first you could possibly see 500 feet of the river as you walked beside it.  Today you see every foot of this beautiful stream. We have enjoyed every minute of it!  Terrie and I started planting trees and 3 large flower beds, and a fenced 90 x 60 orchard.    Of all the 100’s of trees and 100’s of flowers we planted I dug every dam hole but Terrie was on her hands and knees planting ever dam one with tender loving care.  Survival rate was 98-99 percent.  In 2017 we were approached by a Master Gardner from Waupaca Co. Gardner’s who asked if we would consider being on their Master Gardner Walk.  We felt it a privilege to be asked.  Our flower beds were only 1, 2 and 3 years old, more like toddlers than established beds. We were most pleased with all the fine compliments from over 150 people who enjoyed our hard work.    

Memorial service for Bob will be held  11:00 AM on Saturday December 30, 2017 at VALLEY FUNERAL HOME with Chaplin Brian Iverson from Heartland Hospice officiating. Visitation will be at the funeral home Saturday morning beginning at 9:00 until the 11:00 AM service.

A special Thank You to Carl and Pat Danke who have remained the best of friends and served as witnesses to our wedding. We also have so many family members, friends and caregivers to thank. THANK YOU!   We Love you all so much!

“There is something calming about sitting beside a river. I cannot put my finger on what, nor want to!”  


 Service Information

Visitation
Saturday
December 30, 2017

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Valley Funeral Home
2211 N. Richmond St.
Appleton, WI 54911

Memorial Service
Saturday
December 30, 2017

11:00 AM
Valley Funeral Home
2211 N. Richmond St.
Appleton, WI 54911


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