Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 244-2121
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Robert L. Oppold

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Robert L. Oppold Obituary
Robert L. Oppold


Robert L. Oppold, 88, died Saturday at Covenant Medical Center,Waterloo, of respiratory failure.

Bob was born February 11, 1925 in Ackley, IA, son of Robert and Gertrude Lamm Oppold. He married Patricia (Pat) Boehler on September 2, 1950 in Des Moines. She died November 8, 2010.

He was a U.S. Army veteran, serving in WWII in the Army Medical Corps in Colorado Springs caring for wounded veterans that were sent stateside. Bob graduated from San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, and was employed at Dunn's Funeral Home in Des Moines following graduation. He came to Waterloo in 1954 and purchased the Hurley Funeral Home on W. 8th and Washington St. In 1959 he moved to W. 3rd and South St. with the purchase of the former Knights of Columbus hall in which he then became owner/operator of Oppold Funeral Home. In 1982 he acquired O'Keefe and Towne Funeral Home.

In 1990, Bob and Pat retired. The Oppold Funeral Home business, which included the W. 3rd and South and W. Ridgeway locations, was sold to the employees: Louis Hagarty, John Waychoff, and Paul Grarup. The proceeds of the sale were placed in endowment trusts for the benefit of Waterloo Columbus High School and Gilbertville Don Bosco High School. The value of the gift exceeded $1.25 million. In their 1990 announcement of the gift, Bob and Pat said that they never forgot the value of their sons' educations at a Catholic school.

Bob was also known widely as the "one eyed pilot". He had lost sight in his left eye in a childhood accident, but that did not prevent him from pursuing his love of flying. He would pick up remains in locations poorly serviced by the airlines and return them to their loved ones for burial. He also provided an ambulance service that included transporting children to the Shriners' Burn Hospital in Cincinnati at his cost. From 1964 to 2010, Bob amassed over 8,000 hours of flight time. He did not fly alone, and would offer the co-pilot's seat to anyone who would like to go on a trip. One retired gentlemen told Eldon Ebert on his morning radio show about his trip to Rapid City. Mr. Kemp had homesteaded South Dakota but the life was too hard for his family. He sent his family home to Waterloo by train, and he drove the team and wagon home. It took him 45 days to drive home in the wagon but only three hours flight time with Bob.

He was past president of I.F.D.A. (Iowa Funeral Directors Association), past president of Flying Funeral Directors of America, a 4th Degree Knights of Columbus, Knight of the Equestrian Order of The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, member of the Elks, Lifetime member of Kiwanis, and a member of the ALO Quietbirdman hanger. His fellow pilots jokingly named the air strip "Oppold International" because he flew each year to Canada … to fish.

He is survived by two sons, Robert (Kathy) of Overland Park, Kan. and Joseph (Marion) of Melbourne, Fla.; six grandchildren, Nathan Canastero, Paul Oppold, Thomas (Lauri) Oppold, Peter (Vanessa) Oppold, Gregory (Kelly) Oppold and Elizabeth "Liz" (Denny) Lammert; five great-grandchildren, Emma, Cara, Patricia, Briley and Callum Oppold; a brother, Joseph (Gladys) Oppold of Waterloo; two sisters, Evelyn Lawless and Ruth Scallon, both of Iowa Falls and two sisters-in-law, Agnes Mary Oppold of Iowa Falls and Mary Ann Oppold of Raleigh, N.C.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife and four brothers, Francis, Melvin, Edmund and James Oppold.

Services will be 11 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, with burial in Mt. Olivet Cemetery both in Waterloo. Full military rites will be conducted by Waterloo Amvets Post 19 and Evansdale Amvets Post 31, assisted by the Iowa Army Honor Guard. Public visitation will be from 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Hagarty-Waychoff-Grarup Funeral Service on South Street, Waterloo, with a 7 p.m. 3rd and 4th Degree Knights of Columbus rosary and from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday with a 4 p.m. Catholic Order of Foresters rosary and a 7 p.m. vigil service. Visitation also one hour prior to services Friday at the church. Memorials may be made to the Oppold Endowment Fund for Columbus High School and the Bosco System.

Online condolences may be left at

Published in Des Moines Register on July 17, 2013
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