Robert D. Rodenbarger, age 79 years of Edwardsburg, Michigan, handyman, traveler, outdoorsman, and honorable Veteran died unexpectedly, but of natural causes Sunday morning, September 17, 2023 at his home. His family is grateful for the resuscitation efforts of the first responders, and for their kindness.
He was born on August 25, 1944 in Frankfort, Indiana to Robert D. and Iola Jean (Stoops) Rodenbarger, and was graduated from Niles High School in 1962. That summer, he enlisted for four years in the United States Air Force where he was stationed at Syracuse (New York) University to learn the Russian language. He became an “Airborne Russian Voice Intercept Processing Specialist,” was awarded the Air Medal for acts of heroism or meritorious achievement while in aerial flight, and was honorably discharged from the 6949 Security Squadron of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Bob returned from the service, and continued his education at Michigan State University (East Lansing) earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He began his career at Michigan National Bank in Lansing, moving up through the departments and responsibilities, and after five years in the office, he took a year to travel throughout Europe and Northern Africa. After a few more years in the office, he returned to Michigan State to take graduate courses in accounting and finance.
In 1979, he established his own business: THE Handyman, engaged in home remodeling, light construction – both commercial and residential – and painting, plumbing, and electrical work. As a tradesman, he retained the same careful and exacting eye and mindset for detail as banking and finance require.
Bob was a member of the American Legion Post #365 in Edwardsburg. He enjoyed the outdoors through many activities including caving, having explored fifty wild caves throughout the United States and Mexico, becoming adequately proficient to include some cave dives underwater. He had a boat, large enough to attempt the Mississippi River voyage down to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, only to be interrupted by engine failure.
He had a great story about a motorcycle accident resulting in a full-length leg cast, making entering – and driving – his yellow Corvette challenging, but not impossible. He removed the T-tops to allow adequate headroom, and used a crutch to operate the pedals. More recently, he has been pleased to spend time in his woods . . . with a chain saw.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Rodenbarger, and Iola Rogers. He is survived by Jurene Ann Murphy who has been his significant other for thirty years; and by Bob’s sisters, Frances (& William) Welling of Sarasota, Florida, and Jeanie Scott of Worthington, Ohio; and a nephew, Rob Welling.
Those closest to Bob Rodenbarger will gather privately to honor his life and to share some memories . . . that weren’t published here. They intend to gather in his woods, probably with a – now quiet – chainsaw.
Arrangements were completed at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles. Online memories, tributes, and condolences may be left at:
Bob – as everyone knows – was a big guy, checking into the Air Force at 6’2” and a lean 190 pounds, but he also lived a big life with many successes and even more satisfaction. He served his country in a remarkable manner, and then took-on the world of banking and finance. In his handyman business, this big guy painted corners with the finesse of a fine artist, and tightened screws in electric fixtures like a watchmaker. In caving, he pushed-through and succeeded the worst of the ”Fat Man’s Misery”. More important than all of this was the personal relationships with each bank client, each handyman homeowner, his family, and Jurene.