On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, following a brief illness, Robert Raymond Gruber, 91, was called home to his family. A descendant of Montana homesteaders, Bob was born in Townsend to Edward and Dora Gruber on Feb. 4, 1926.
The sixth of nine children, Bob attended Riverside School District 31, in Crow Creek Valley near Toston. District 31 was a one room school house with eight students. Six were Grubers. He graduated high school in Boulder in 1943, worked briefly for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, Calif., and enlisted in the Navy in 1944.
His service in WWII was on the USS Hammondsport, a freighter operating in the South Pacific. He was honorably discharged in 1946. Several years were spent on road construction in Idaho and Montana. It was while working on Highway 93 near Salmon, Idaho, that he met his first wife, Frances Joan Bartlett. They had four children; Terri, Cathy, Roger and Jeff.
In 1964 the family settled in Libby and Bob started up Granite Concrete Company. With longtime business partner George Oldham, he operated Granite Concrete until retirement in 1983.
Bob married Lois Ochsner in Kalispell in 1979. Lois owned and operated This ‘n That in downtown Libby and Bob assisted as unofficial Maytag delivery man for many years. A lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Lodge, he also enjoyed the motor home, skiing, antiques, garage sales and was a regular at the Sater Auction in Bonners Ferry. An engineer at heart, Bob remained a highway superintendent, bridge inspector and mechanic of all moving parts his entire life. His last years and days were lived in the home and wildlife sanctuary he created in Libby.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ed and Dora; brothers Jack, Donald, Bill, and Ted; sisters Alice and Dorothy; and wife Lois.
He is survived by brothers James (Barney) of Newcastle, Calif., and Frank of Helena; children Terri Gruber, Spokane, Wash., Cathy Gruber Anderson (Jim), Boise, Idaho, Roger Gruber, Havre, and Jeff Gruber (Doreen), Libby; grandchildren Evan, Sherri, Allan, Seth, Kelsey, Tyson, Trent, Thomas and Emma; and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. with rosary following at 7 p.m. Funeral mass will be held by Father Richard Kluk on Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, with interment and military honors immediately following. Arrangements are by Schnackenberg & Nelson Funeral Home in Libby. Online condolences and memories may be shared at www.schnackenbergfh.com.