Robert “Bob” Sturdevant, amazing friend and father, passed away at his home surrounded by his family after a brave and courageous battle with brain cancer on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, at the age of 71.
Bob was born August 16, 1949 in Brookings, SD, to Clarence and Verna Sturdevant. He was the second child (by 10 minutes) in his family along with his older twin brother, Bill, and younger siblings Diane, Ray and Mark. Being born second saved him worlds of trouble because he wasn’t the oldest child! Bob cherished time with his siblings and there are many great memories and stories from his younger years.
Following high school graduation, Bob moved to Aberdeen, SD, and enrolled at Northern State College. He self-admittedly reports paying tuition with little to no attendance of classes. After his twin brother died in Vietnam, Bob enlisted in the United States Navy in January, 1969. He served as a Submarine Sonar Technician Petty Officer 3rd Class on the USS Aspro during the Vietnam War. Bob was honorably discharged from the Navy in December, 1972.
Always entrepreneurial, Bob became a partner in a new business, M&S (McClemans and Sturdevant) Land and Cattle. They had no land to speak of, but started out with purchasing three bottle fed calves (one of them blind) which were transported 150 miles in the back of his Ranchero. The operation grew to 8 cows, 10 sheep, 25 ducks and 50 chickens. M&S would occasionally declare a dividend but it was spent at the local watering hole in no time. Business finally closed with a $500 loss to each partner but wow, the memories they made! After managing the Safari Bar and Lounge for two years, Bob got serious about a lasting career. He enrolled in the Optical Technology program in Anoka, MN and graduated third in his class in 1976.
Bob married Marie Anderson in 1975 and together they had two children, Troy Robert in 1977 and Tiffany Marie in 1980. Although they later divorced, they remained lifelong friends. As parents, Bob and Marie ensured their children always came first. Bob loved being a father and worked hard so that Troy and Tiffany could have the life he wanted for them. He enjoyed spending time with his kids hunting, fishing, jet skiing, canoeing and riding three-wheelers. Bob was always available to rescue Troy and his friends in the mountains and jumped in to help Tiffany and her friends with whatever dilemma they had. He was the first to lend a hand with his children’s projects and saw to it that they were done right. Bob’s home was open to all of Troy and Tiffany’s friends and many of them considered him a second father.
Bob spent 40 years as an optician at Montana Eyecare although his roles at work far exceeded just being an optician. He was a “go-to-guy” and his motto was, “Treat the customer like you own the place” and often said, “It’s never a job when you enjoy what you do”. He prided himself on providing great customer service and made lasting friendships with his fellow employees and customers. Bob retired in 2015 but that didn’t stop him from continuing his involvement at Montana Eyecare.
In 1980, Bob joined the Optimist Club to help local youth. As a club member, he enjoyed working several annual events such as the Optimist Taco Booth at the Last Chance Stampede and Fair, bookshelf building, and the Headstart Christmas Program. In the earlier years of his Optimist membership, Bob spent many Christmas Eves dressed as “Santa Claus” while his children and other members dressed as Santa’s Elves, delivering presents to many families. One special Christmas in 1997, a little boy sat on Santa’s lap and had only one Christmas wish: to be able to see his Dad. Bob made sure this became a reality and on Christmas day, this young boy left for Michigan to see his father for the first time in five years. Bob was a valued member in the club and attended his last meeting less than a week prior to his passing. He established many close friendships with club members.
“BBQ Bob”, as he was known to many, originated with him roasting a pig in a homemade spit in his backyard for yearly neighborhood barbeques. Every year he improved upon the previous barbeque and this passion eventually turned into an unintentional side business with a logo of “Have Spit Will Travel”. Among weddings, birthdays, and other celebrations, he looked forward to barbecuing pork, turkey, and even buffalo for an annual car show on Memorial Day where his meat was always a hit.
Bob was known by many nicknames. “Lucifer” being the first one, given by his high school shop teacher for the pranks and troubles he caused in class. This was later shortened to “Lucy” which has stuck with him his entire life. Bob is known as “#1” to his siblings so it was only fitting that they honored him with a plaque as the only non-presidential face on Mt. Rushmore. “Captain Bob” originated from his pool league where he made many friendships and always had a good time. This name became his preferred name when aboard the pontoon, where he enjoyed entertaining friends over the last few years. To the youngest generation, he was known as “Uncle Bob” and “Papa Bob”.
Bob enjoyed taking trips to see his buddies on the West Coast, having cocktail hour with the Backyard Boys, neighborhood competitions (Bob won the lawnmower race), weekend trips to the Holmlund’s Cabin, brewery road trips, walking with his buddies in what he referred to affectionately as the Forced March, pouring wine at the Festival of Trees, participating in the yearly Eagles Easter Egg Hunt, and many card/cribbage games with great friends and neighbors. It wasn’t uncommon to find Bob out in the garage fabricating some great new invention or working on a new project. Bob found love again two years ago with an amazing woman, Yvonne. He had a spark in his eye when he was around her and they enjoyed life together.
Bob could have taken a trip around the world, but he preferred to vacation back in South Dakota. Some of his favorite times were visiting his siblings, nieces and nephews where cards, magic tricks, garage projects, barbecuing and late nights of storytelling were plentiful. Bob looked forward to the fall pheasant hunt with his cousins and uncles and stopping to see all of his relatives in Faulkton. He enjoyed card games with his mother when she was in assisted living and you could count on him to fix the residents’ eyeglasses while he was there. He sought gatherings with friends from high school and college and always made it a point to stop in and see Marie’s family while he was back in South Dakota. Even if it was a couple hours out of the way, Bob would make sure he got in a few burgers from Nick’s Hamburger Shop in Brookings. Oftentimes Troy and Tiffany would accompany Bob on these trips and last year he was able to introduce his South Dakota family and friends to Yvonne.
Bob’s fun-loving nature and humorous optimism landed him many friends throughout his life and he treasured his friends and family. Bob was a one of a kind man, father, brother and friend and his death will leave an incredible void in the hearts of those who loved him.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence “Sturdy” and Verna Sturdevant, twin brother Bill Sturdevant, former wife Marie Sturdevant, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
He is survived by his #1 son Troy (Shannon) Sturdevant, favorite daughter Tiffany Sturdevant, siblings Diane Rolof of Rapid City SD, Ray (Donna) Sturdevant of Watertown SD, Mark (Deb) Sturdevant of Mitchell SD, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and his sweetheart, Yvonne Hartze and her family.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in memory of Bob to the Optimist Club of Helena, 418 Butler, Helena MT 59601. The family would also like to thank the staff at the Fort Harrison VA, Denver VA, University of Colorado Health, and St. Peter’s Cancer Treatment Center for the amazing healthcare he received.
In honor of Bob’s naval service, love of boating, and love for friends, please raise a glass and join in Bob’s favorite toast: “Here’s to big ships, here’s to small ships, here’s to ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they ever be.”