Robert F. Burgess was born Sept. 25, 1930, in Conway, Ark. He grew up in Arkansas and Texas with his four brothers and three sisters.
As a young man, he found himself in California with a brother who needed a ride back east, and Bob's Indian Chief motorcycle was the best option to get them there. In West Virginia, he traded his brother for a much better backseat passenger, and in 1950, Bob headed back to California on his motorcycle with the woman who would be the greatest love of his life - his new bride, Lois.
In 1951, Bob became a U.S. Marine and was deployed overseas to fight in the Korean War
. While serving in Korea, he drew upon his background as a custom automobile upholsterer and helped develop the lower portion of the armored vest, for which he received a meritorious promotion to sergeant after only 14 months in service.
After the war, Bob and Lois continued to live in California, where their two sons, Rob Jr. and Earl, were born. In 1962, Bob and his family headed north to Alaska. Upon arriving in Fairbanks on the summer solstice, they knew that they were home. Bob spent the next five decades of his life enjoying all that Alaska had to offer to a true pioneer.
Bob's occupations in Alaska were as varied as one might imagine. He truly was a jack of all trades and a master of most. He was a logger, home builder, floor layer, contractor on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, gold miner, equipment operator, welder, fabricator, boat builder, bush pilot and hunting guide, innovator and inventor.
Bob's greatest passions, besides his family, were flying and boating as he explored and experienced the great state that he had made his home. Bob was a true neighbor, always willing to lend a helping hand but never asking for one, and always without any thought of repayment. His kindness and generosity have touched the lives of many. He had a gentleness and compassion for even the smallest of God's creatures.
In his later years, he especially enjoyed traveling around the country with his sweetheart, checking items off his "bucket list." He found the Colorado Rockies especially inspiring and beautiful. Bob and Lois were able to log more than 30,000 miles in his Cadillac El Dorado during their last winter of travel.
Bob is survived by his wife of 63 years, Lois; his brothers, Jim, John and Paul; his sons, Robert Jr. (Arleen) and Earl (Debbie); and his grandchildren, Shawny, Justin (Christel), Jason (Danielle), Trevor and Ryan. He was especially blessed with nine great-grandchildren, including a set of twin boys and a set of twin girls.
Bob was preceded in death by one brother and his three sisters.
Bob's family would like to extend a special and heart-felt thanks to the ICU nursing staff of FMH for the incredible care and compassion shown to Bob during his final days.
He went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 15, 2014, passing peacefully while surrounded by his family.