CMSgt (Ret) Robert "Bob" Quay SR.
Great Falls - CMSgt (Ret) Robert "Bob" Madison Quay, Sr., 82, of Great Falls, MT passed away on January 13, 2021 surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. Bob was born on November 5, 1938 in the family home in Spring City, PA where he was raised as a Mennonite by his loving parents, Harry and Lillie (McFarland) Quay and his sister Dorothy "Dot" (Quay) Reed.
During the course of his schooling, Bob attended country schools in the area because their house was two blocks outside the city limits. He even attended a private school in a mansion at Kimberton Farms for his fifth-grade year, but when he started moving backwards in grades, his father decided it best that he go back to public school. Bob had an amazing memory and after all these years could still remember where he went to school and all his teachers from kindergarten on up. In 1955, at the beginning of his 11th grade year, he transferred from Spring City High School to Williamson Trade School in Media, PA graduating in 1958 as a Machinist and was voted "Best Looking" in his class. Williamson set the groundwork for his success in life.
After graduating from Williamson, Bob and his roommate Joe Challenger worked together at Tatinal Measuring Systems. He then worked at Flags Company in Pottstown and Spring City Bleach and Dye Company, where his dad also worked. He knew he did not want to work in a factory for his career, so he looked towards the military. His brother-in-law, Claude "Dutch" Reed was a major influence in his decision to join the United States Air Force (USAF), as he had been in the Army/Air Force.
Bob entered the USAF on February 29, 1960. His first assignment was in Omaha, NE at SAC Headquarters with the 24th Refueling Squadron where he was involved with the Looking Glass operation from the start. This was a high-level operation to ensure key members of the military command could be up in the air in a short time in the event of an attack. Bob flew many reconnaissance missions and always remembered the tail numbers of both planes he flew on. The KC and RC 135 tail #514 and #465. While in Omaha, he met Marie Kiddish. They married in 1963 and spent the next 19 years moving from base to base, raising 4 children (Bobby, John, Sabra, and Brenda). He had numerous permanent assignments over his 30-year career including San Antonio, TX, Biloxi, MS, Omaha, NE, Fairbanks, AK, Lompoc, CA, Dover, DE, Kunsan, Korea, Great Falls, MT, Opheim, MT, Limestone, ME, Comiso, Sicily, and Mountain Home, ID. Temporary assignments included England, Japan, Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany, Taiwan, Philippine's, Guam, Mexico, Shemya Island, AK, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Bob himself noted that "I have been in all 50 states in the United States, all the provinces of Canada, and have driven the Alaskan Highway five times, once in winter."
During the Vietnam era, Bob was reassigned to Dover, Delaware to be close to home when his father became very ill. While at Dover, he volunteered for burial escort duty. Bob always went above and beyond in anything he did, as is evidenced in the story he told about one of the soldiers who didn't make it home. The wife came to him and said her daughters did not recognize their dad without his glasses. Bob immediately purchased a pair of military issued glasses and put them on the soldier which brought comfort to the family. He always said the hardest part was when he had to present the flag to a mother or wife. As strong as he was, he could never do it without crying.
In 1980, Bob was stationed at Malmstrom AFB, in Great Falls, MT where the family would permanently settle and Bob would meet his wife of 35 years, Sharon Johnson. After 30 years of service, he retired on February 28, 1990.
After retiring, he attended the Pennsylvania Institute of Taxidermy, managed the gun department at Big Bear Sports Center, and worked as a resident advisor for the Great Falls Prison Pre-release Center.
Following in his father's footsteps, Bob achieved the 32nd Degree Master Mason, Scottish Rite, was a member of Vincent Mennonite Church in Pennsylvania, and was a life member of the National Rifleman Association. Bob's hobbies included hunting, fishing, taxidermy, photography, traveling, classic cars and motorcycles. Bob also had a soft spot for animals and was extremely devoted to all his cats and dogs.
Bob's proudest accomplishments were his promotion to Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and his children and grandchildren.
Bob was "Larger Than Life" to all that knew him and will be greatly missed by his family, countless friends around the world, and his cat Lucky. He is survived by his wife, Sharon G. (Johnson) Quay; sons, Robert M. (Isabel) Quay Jr. of Clovis, NM, John F. Quay of Great Falls, MT; daughters, Sabra L. (Johnny) Wheeler of Great Falls, MT, and Brenda M. (Kevin) Bokovoy of East Helena, MT; grandchildren, Brandon D. and Isabella "Bella" Quay of Clovis, NM, Cody M. and Nathan L. Wheeler of Great Falls, MT and Christopher J. and Hayley E. Bokovoy of East Helena, MT.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Harry M. and Lillie M. Quay; sister, Dorothy E. (Claude) Reed; niece, Cathryn "Kay" (Reed) Borzumati; and numerous aunts and uncles.
A funeral service will be held January 26,, 2021 at 11:00 AM at Croxford Funeral Home with livestream available at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com
. Viewings will be held on January 25, 2021 from 12:00 - 4:00 PM and January 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM at Croxford Funeral Home.
Donations are suggested to the Great Falls Animal Shelter, 1010 25th Ave. NE. Great Falls, MT 59404. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.croxfordfuneralhome.com