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Bob G. Lewis, 91, of Mehlville, Missouri died January 8, 2024. Bob was born August 21, 1932 in Flat River, Missouri, to Jessie Lewis and the Rev. Lawrence Lewis. Bob was the fourth of five children.
In his younger years Bob lived on a farm in Germantown, west of Fredericktown. The family was mostly subsistence farmers while his dad was also a visiting preacher at various rural churches in the area. During elementary school they moved into Fredericktown where he grew up while his dad continued his ministry and worked at the local lead mines.
As a young boy Bob developed his values of compassion and unwavering dedication to family while helping his dad and siblings care for his TB-stricken mother….all while enduring the stigma during that time of being part of a household with TB.
In high school Bob was a proud Fredericktown “Blackcat,” lettering in football as a halfback and in basketball as a guard. As a halfback he earned the nickname of “Snake” and in 1949 was named most outstanding player in large part due to his role in trouncing Jackson. In that game he ran for nine touchdowns. As recently as last month Bob could still be seen proudly wearing his Blackcats ball cap.
Shortly after high school Bob married and started his family. For a time, they lived in St. Louis while he worked on the assembly line at McDonald Douglas. Later they moved back to Fredericktown, had three children and Bob worked at John Berry’s Mobile service station for many years.
Alas, the marriage did not last, but Bob’s dedication to his children never wavered. In the late 1950’s, with the help of his sister Tessie Kessler and his parents, Bob took on the unlikely 1950’s title of male single parent. Yet again shunning stigma for his commitment to his kids.
In the late 60’s Bob sought something better for his family. He moved his kids from Fredericktown……to New Orleans, Louisiana to eventually manage a successful foreign car parts franchise. With some adjustments he and the kids thrived and came to love New Orleans culture, community and of course the food. Bob worked at the store and the family lived above the store in a 3-room apartment. Life was good; the kids took the streetcar or electrified bus to school; they attended church at Valance Street Baptist for Sunday School, Training Union and Wednesday Prayer Meeting.
Soon Bob’s good friend and coworker got drafted into the Vietnam war. Bob stood up to help his friend by caring for his mentally disabled mother and brother while his friend was in Vietnam and while caring for his own three kids. Another incredible example of Bob’s compassion and commitment.
Bob’s kids continued on in their development; each successful in their own right in zoo/zoological management, nursing and IT management, validating their dad’s commitment to his values and to them. As they began to move on to school and building their own careers and families, Bob moved back to St. Louis. He worked for two parts stores then retired in 1995.
Upon Bob’s return to St. Louis, he met a very special friend, Shirley Arning. For almost 45 years they have been the best of companions. They have shared their lives and respective families and built an extended family beyond themselves. Again, what makes Bob….Bob.
So, upon Bob’s passing, look back on what make’s him “Bob.” If you are his friend or family….that’s it; you are his friend or family. If you aspire to be his friend or family….do not abandon or belittle any of them as you will fail; if you aspire to hear of his values or wisdom, be ready to hear it for you certainly will.
Bob is preceded in death by his parents the Rev. Lawrence Lewis and wife Jessie; infant sister Myrtle, brother Harold Lewis and sister Tessie Kessler.
Bob is survived by his Special Friend, Shirley Arning; brother Jerry Lewis; son John Lewis; daughter Colleen (and husband Norman) Biven; son Greg (and wife Maureen) Lewis; 8 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Bob, may God bless you in your passing as he has surely blessed us in your living.
Services for Bob were Monday January 15, 2024 at Heiligtag-Lang-Fendler Funeral Home in Arnold, Missouri.