Robert O. Mantz
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Great Falls —Robert "Bob" Otto Mantz, age 91, passed away peacefully of natural causes on February 6, 2014. Bob was born to Gustav and Millie (Thom) Mantz on June 14, 1922 in Center, ND. He, his brother, Bud, and sister, Hilda "Toots", grew up in a stone house outside of Center. He only completed an education through the sixth grade because he needed to work, first for a local farmer, then later in Alaska as a miner's helper, camp cook assistant and the only one who could start the "garbage cat" and haul trash. He was unable to enlist in the Army but still supported the military by hauling supplies up the Alaska Highway in the bitter cold. Bob was known for being a top-notch truck driver and diesel mechanic.
Bob married Leda Swatzfigure in 1945; she later passed from emphysema in 1997.
He loved to play the harmonica, which he had learned at the age of six and played for anyone who would listen and at many school programs. He also loved to dance and in 1999 his friends, Gordon and Audrey Stach, introduced him to the love of his life, Phyllis Woods. They had an instant connection and went dancing at the Moose Lodge several nights per week. They traveled many times to Kimberly, Torrington, Canada and Alaska. One special trip home from Kimberly, Bob proposed to Phyllis and she said "YES!". They were married on August 20, 2005 among close family and friends with Phyllis' cousin, Coral, officiating. The reception was grand and everyone agreed it was a match made in heaven.
During this time, Bob was the crossing guard for West Elementary. He retired from that position after 14 years, but the corner is still called "Bob's Corner" by those who know him. He went on to be a bus aide for special needs students, retiring at age 84.
Bob and Phyllis were active members in the local chapter of Good Sam's and made many memorable camping trips with their Rambling Sams friends. Bob also attended Community of Christ Church and always asked that his chair be waiting for him whenever he couldn't attend due to multiple health issues.
He is preceded in death by his parents and brother, Bud. He is survived by his love, Phyllis; sister, Hilda "Toots" Ritter; nieces, Sheila (Corey) Schmidt, DiAnne (Frank) Pollard, Sheila (Roger) Marx; and nephew, James Mantz. Laos surviving at his step children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many more family and friends who loved him greatly.
A memorial to celebrate Bob's life will be held on his birthday, June 14, 2014 at 1pm in Gibson Park.
Memorial donations can be made in Bob's memory to the Community of Christ Church in Great Falls, Montana or the Great Falls Animal Foundation.
Condolences to the family may be shared at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Feb. 12, 2014