It was Monday, July 13, 2020, a bright Summer morning, when Robert Henry Van Buskirk slipped the surly bonds of earth and was welcomed into his eternal home by his dad and mum, Dewey and Eleanor Van Buskirk, his special niece Kathy, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends gone before. Our family just received the sad news that our brother Tom Van Buskirk of Greeley, CO passed away this afternoon July 14, 2020. No doubt Bob took Tom’s hand and together they joined mom and dad in heaven.
Bob was born on January 29, 1933 in Oconomowoc, WI. It is there his earthly remains will rest in peace surrounded by his parents, paternal grandparents and great grandparents.The creator of the universe must have been quite unhappy with mankind when the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s was let out of the box. Bob was on the Alzheimer expressway and cared for at home by “baby sister” Karen for the past 6 years but what took him away was a brain hemorrhage in the last few weeks of his life. He remained at home until June 29 when the brain bleed was found and from there he was transferred to Brookdale, Appleton and was tenderly cared for by their staff and Aseracare hospice. Thank you is not a big enough word for the gratitude felt in our hearts for their care and attention to Bob.
Bob is survived by brother David (Margaret) New London, and sisters Joan Pekel, Menasha and Karen Van Buskirk – Kaas (Roger) Sherwood and his loyal and very special friend Larry Miller, Menasha. He is further survived by nieces and nephews, children of Tom, David and Joan.
Also children of his nieces and nephews who created a conundrum as Bob couldn’t decide if they were his Grand nieces/nephews or his Great nieces and nephews.
Bob was a 1951 graduate of Menasha High School and was proud of the fact he was a standout athlete in flying over the hurdles. He took 3rd in the State his senior year and has the newspaper clippings and pictures to prove it! Those years also found him riding his Harley Davidson along with his buddies who have, in their latter years, renamed themselves the “Too Tired Gang.”
Robert’s life work followed in the footsteps of his father Dewey, who in 1940 established Van Buskirk and Son nursery in the Town of Menasha. In addition to landscaping, Bob plowed snow in the winter often referring to it as “white gold.” Snow plowing required much focused concentration and heavy snowfalls would easily result in 24 plus hour long days. Sitting atop his backhoe he also dug countless graves year round in both St. Mary and St. John cemetery. Bob was a perfectionist and he put much pride, care and respect in ensuring each grave was level and many a time I saw him jump off that backhoe and hand scrape the side walls to ensure it was perfect.
For those of you reading this who knew Robert Henry, you know how vast his knowledge was of ALL things and his willingness to share it and “teach” others. His verbiage was sprinkled with Bob-isms such as “and so forth and so on” or “zimbo zambo” or “so to make a long story short” (it never was) and woe be onto those who incorrectly stated the regions of the country! He was powerless not to correct you: “it’s UP North, DOWN South, BACK East and OUT West.” And don’t ever say that you were done eating. “No, you are finished eating. A cake is done.” He’s right – can’t argue with those last two examples.
Bob was a simple, hard working man. For all his, at times tough and opinionated exterior, Bob was a gentle, caring and kind guy who would do whatever he could to help another human being or animal. An example: The year was 1972, and Neenah High School’s annual prom was approaching. The students had a theme which called for an enchanted forest but weren’t having any luck getting local nurseries to provide the evergreens for the dance. A call went out to Bob and he not only came to their rescue by bringing all the trees and evergreens in pots, he also set up the whole scene for their special evening. I have seen him speak tenderly to a new born kitten that didn’t survive, gently wrap it and shed tears as he buried it. I’ve seen him go out of his way to help someone in need. He was a good man. One that will be sorely missed.
Each sibling and friend has their memories and stories of Bob and he will never cease to exist in our hearts.
I thank Bob for always being there for me and assuring me he would support me in anything I chose to do. I thank him for teaching me to drive a tractor, hook up chains and pull out buckthorn. I thank him for trying to teach me how to plow snow and it wasn’t his fault it wasn’t my bailiwick. The memory of getting up in the predawn hours and jumping in his truck with a bag of cookies and bananas, listening to the 3 Tenors on CD while he plowed snow can never be taken away from me.
I thank him for the road trip out to Colorado to pick up a commercial lawn mower that is in use to this day. My journal of the trip is a prized possession.
I thank him for being my big brother and sharing his life with me… and so forth and so on…
God speed my brother and friend. See you later. I love you.
Funeral services for Bob will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 2020 at the Kessler Funeral Home, 304 S. Commercial St., Neenah with Pastor David Skarsten officiating. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services. Bob will be laid to rest in the family plot in Oconomowoc.
The family respectfully requests social distancing and face mask protection while attending the visitation and service. Bob’s funeral will also be live streamed on the funeral home website simply by clicking on his obituary page, or you may also view it on the Kessler Funeral Home and Cremation Service Facebook page. For online condolences or to share memories of Bob, please visit: www.kesslerfh.com.
To send flowers to Robert's family, please visit our floral store.