Robert J. (Bob) Durkee, 72, of Lake Odessa passed away on July 26, 2020 at his home surrounded by his family. He was born on August 24, 1946 to Ronald and Helen Imogene (Mutschler) Durkee in Lake Odessa.
Bob grew up on a family farm, he was the boy his dad was waiting for. He had two older sisters who helped raise him. He loved his cap guns.
He grew up farming, and had a natural ability at sports and fixing automobiles. He loved fishing and cutting wood.
While serving in Vietnam (driving a bulldozer) the Army taught him a few things.
1) He liked running a projector (going forward he became the family 8mm camera operator)
2) There is a limit to how much rice a farm boy from Michigan will eat, and he reached that limit. (We never saw him eat rice)
3) And even after offering to make him a helicopter pilot the Army life wasn't for him.
He came home and married Marian Benson and had three kids, he always worked hard and never turned down overtime. But he also never missed a gymnastics meet, baseball game, football game, softball game, wrestling meet, cross country, soccer game, choir concert, musical.
And he didn't just set in the stands, he coached Baseball (having played himself) coached wrestling (not really knowing how) but that didn't stop him from wrestling with his sons on the living room carpet (until two black eyes ended his living room wrestling career). He officiated freestyle wrestling, and so did all three kids, including his daughter! (Something rarely seen in the 80's and 90's)
He didn't have just a strong back he also played Chess. This would sometimes end with the board being flipped. He enjoyed playing Euchre and was a regular poker player in Marty Johnson's garage.
As Grandkids came along he followed them thru their sports and was more than happy to teach them how to take care of their cars.
He loved liver and onions (only his daughter will carry that on), and gizzards. (Some grandkids like them) Rocky Mountain Oysters (No one, and I mean no one will eat those).
His shop was his "work place" after retirement from TRW in Portland. Before it had been his weekend place, then it became is daily job.
He loved to hunt, and his Durkee Deer Camp is a thing of legends. Beer was drank (ok a lot of beer and maybe a shot or two), Stories were told, Chili was eaten and they might have bagged a deer or two. (As evidenced by the the antlers decorating the wall)
If the shop light was on, Bob was ready to tell you how you were not changing that wheel bearing the right way, often pushing you out of the way and doing it himself. (Which is what we secretly wanted him to do) He taught his daughter, sons, granddaughters and grandsons alike.
Changing your oil, or a wheel bearing should and could be done by anyone. (And if you needed a haircut he'd let you know that too)
When you were done the shop had to look like it did when you started. (You'd hear about it if a tool was out of place or left dirty)
The shop TV usually had MASH, Gunsmoke, John Wayne, College Wresting or Tiger baseball and for reasons none of us understood old gameshows. And we don't mean classics, he'd watch reruns of Steve Harvey's Family Feud.
While he could be a taskmaster, we also watched him lovingly care for his wife's broken bones, and in the last few months he grew quite attached to his great grandson. Even holding him as his arms grew weak from the ALS that may have bent him, but never broke his spirit.
The family offers a special thank you to Heather Rush (delivering groceries and spending time talking) and his granddaughter Christi (his minute by minute care giver in his final months and this allowed him to pass at home on the family farm) for all their extra effort.
And to all the people who have made dinners, checked in, and offered so much support we could not have done it without you.
He will be lovingly missed by: wife of 52 years Marian, children; Kevin (Amaya), Jan (Joey) Jackson and Kyle (Heather), grandchildren; Darrin (Margaret), Kyle, Brandon, Gabriel, Elias, LaReina, Christi, Joey III, John (Patrice), Cole, Remington, Kayli, Karli, Great-Grandchildren; Apollo, Cadance and James, sister Carolyn Mayhew, step father Stan Strickland along with many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Preceding him in death are: father Ronald Durkee, mother Helen Strickland, sister Lois Jackson, brother in law Bob Mayhew.
According to his wishes cremation has taken place and celebration will be held at the family farm 3425 Durkee Rd, Lake Odessa, MI 48849 on August 22, 2020 from 1pm – 5pm. Donation to the Lakewood Wrestling Club in Lieu of flowers would be appreciated.
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