Robert Grant Tyler, Jr., age 77 years formerly of Niles, Michigan, father, grandfather, brother, teamster, blues fan, and always a Marine – “Ooh-rah!” died peacefully on Monday morning, June 28, 2021 with family gathered around his bedside at his home in South Bend, Indiana following an extended illness.
He was born on September 4, 1943 in South Bend, Indiana to Robert G. and Roberta M. (Singer) Tyler, Sr., and was always proud to be a member of the Singer family. He was graduated from Niles High School, and joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Military Police officer in Hawaii and was trained as a truck driver. He was honorably discharged as a Marine Lance Corporal and a Veteran of the Vietnam War Era.
Upon return to civilian life, he joined the Teamsters and drove trucks over-the-road in California, over-the-ice-road out of Anchorage, Alaska, and across the rest of the United States. Eventually, he returned to the Michiana area and completed his career driving for several local dispatchers including Preston Trucking.
Bob was a very spiritual person, professing a belief in God and faith in Jesus Christ, but doing so very privately as he was accustomed-to from all of those years alone on the road. Perhaps also well practiced on the road was a love for singing the blues, especially singing along with Mahalia Jackson and B. B. King and B.B.’s guitar, “Lucille”. While in California, Bob joined the Steelmen Motorcycle Club, and just as he was “once a Marine, always a Marine”, he was always a biker.
He was well-known for his physical presence, being taller than most, but also sturdy and strong, naturally earning the nicknames of “Big Robert T” and “Hercules”. Like the mythic giant, Bob used his attributes carefully and well, which also earned the nickname of “Fuzzy Midget”. But still, very few would ever cross a Marine or trucker or biker of Bob’s stature.
Bob was first married to the former Laurel Sommers, and later to Blonddeal Carroll Tyler, and was finally married to Theodora Watty Tyler who preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by his parents.
Surviving family includes his children, Babbette Kim Tyler of South Bend, Kanesha Lynn Tyler (& fiancé, Mike Blakley) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Keith Mitchell, and Andrew Davis, Jr. of Jamaica, New York; many grandchildren including Giavonna Tyler, Novi'ca Tyler, Anton Tyler, and Ne’Vaeh Tyler-Way; Bob’s brothers, Benjamin (& Sharon) Tyler of Gary, Indiana and Donald (& Martha) Riley of Terre Haute, Indiana; many nieces and nephews, and many “bonus” children and grandchildren who “adopted” Bob as a beloved parent and grandparent; Bob’s longtime companion, Jackie Straight and her daughter, Lucinda Pope, both of Midland, Texas; and Bob’s constant pet dog companion “B.A.” (a kinder version of its real name, “Bad Ass”).
The funeral service for Robert Tyler, Jr. will be at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, 2021 at the Halbritter-Wickens Funeral Home, 615 East Main Street in Niles with the Rev. Kevin Mitchell of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Dowagiac, Michigan officiating. The service will conclude in the funeral home parking lot with Full Military Honors by the United States Marine Corps Honor Guard and American Legion Post #51 of Buchanan, Michigan. Those who wish to witness the service via the livestreamed broadcast will be able to access it on the Halbritter-Wickens Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/halbritterwickensfuneralservices/.
The family will receive relatives and friends beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at the funeral home. Online condolences may be left at:
Bob clearly enjoyed being in-control of disorderly Marines, of the big trucks of his era with “Armstrong” steering, and powerful motorcycles on the open road. But more than all of that, he enjoyed family time, caring for those around him and sharing Fuzzy Midget hugs and Big Robert T laughs.
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