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Life Story / Obituary
Of all Bob's signature traits, probably the first to spring to mind was his love of people. Bob never met a stranger. Wherever he went, someone was always calling out his name, and due to extensive business travel he had friends all over the world. Bob lived fully and completely at every opportunity and loved nothing more than having his family by his side and good friends to keep him company. He was dedicated to his work, and especially fond of the vast number of colleagues he gained over the years. A special man in the hearts of many, Bob will be fondly remembered for leaving an indelible mark in the lives of those who knew and loved him best.
Bob's parents, William and Geraldine (Smith) Garlick met overseas when both were serving in the armed forces during WW II. They married and return to the States, settling temporarily in Iowa where both pursued advanced degrees from UI. Bob, their second son, was born on February 6, 1949, in Cedar Rapids, IA.
After receiving their degrees his parents moved their young family to McMinnville, Oregon, where his mother taught at Linfield University, his father was a medical technologist at the local hospital, and Bob and his older brother Bill grew up and attended the local schools. The brothers took full advantage of their rural environment, hunting, fishing, riding their horses, and indulging in hijinks best forgotten.
Education was a priority in the Garlick household, especially with his mother who also taught at Pepperdine University in California, then became a lawyer and later a judge in Oregon. Bob excelled in his studies, while plying his musical talents through choir, piano and guitar playing. During High School he was part of a rock band, gave guitar lessons, and was a popular student body president.
Bob went on to further his education at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where he received his BS degree. From there he attended the University of Oregon, attaining his Masters in Marine Biology, followed by a stint at the University of Texas, Austin, where he received his PhD in Zoology. For his thesis research he sequenced earthworm hemoglobin, and was probably one of few if any doctoral candidates to credit Uncle Billy's Worm Ranch in his acknowledgments.
While in Texas, Bob met the love of his life, Diane. She was working on the same floor as a lab tech and when her pH meter broke, she moseyed down the hall to find another one. Serendipitously she thus met another erstwhile Oregonian who just happened to also be tall, dark, and handsome. Thus blossomed a fun-loving relationship of Texan honky-tonking and outlaw coutry music concerts. Two years later, on August 4, 1979, Bob and Diane were married in the backyard of her parents' home in Portland, Oregon. Soon after the ceremony, they headed back to Texas where they quickly packed up and headed for Boston, Massachusetts for their honeymoon and Bob’s post-doctoral work.
Bob worked with Dr. Frank Bunn at Harvard Medical School in Boston, eventually becoming an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard, before departing Boston for midwestern pastures. He and his family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan when he accepted a position at Upjohn. His 30-year history there entailed various departments with stints at the Portage, Richland Farm, and downtown Kalamazoo locations, somehow surviving all the mergers and company reorganizations through 2016; at his death he'd been working for Zoetis in animal health as a senior research fellow. Bob loved his work in the lab and working alongside his many colleagues, most of whom became close friends. Over the years he traveled extensively, cultivating many a lasting international friendships at far-flung pharmaceutical outposts, especially those in Europe and Australia.
On the homefront, Bob and Diane were beginning their family. Shortly after their move to Kalamazoo, they settled in their country home in Augusta where they lovingly raised their two children, Niels and Liz. Bob was an enthusiastic father, happy even to change diapers and help with the ever-growing loads of laundry. Over the years he tolerated a veritable menagerie of critters including goats and chickens, dogs and cats, tortoises, frogs, guinea pigs, rats, and tank after tank of fish. (He was actually a great animal lover himself and a softy when it came to adding just one more to the zoo.) Although he built a viable chicken house, and was capable of all sorts of home repair, he was not exactly what you'd call a handyman, with the exception of projects involving builders' glue and a chisel . He deloped a great passion for gardening, planting enough vegetables each year to feed a small town. Bob’s children attended Kalamazoo Academy, where he served as a volunteer judge for the science fair for several years. In the process he also became known for the many fifty-pound lots of organically raised potatoes he contributed each year for the school fundraising auction.
Over the years the family spent much vacation time in Oregon, visiting members of both sides of their family. Memories were also being made much closer to home, with trips to Chicago (where the zoos, Shedd Aquarium, and the natural history museum were huge lures), Saugatuck, Meijer Gardens, etc.
Bob enjoyed life to the hilt and all it had to offer. He especially loved coaching both of his children in AYSO Soccer and GLYBA basketball during their elementary and middle school years and he absolutely loved the kids he taught. One might also say he was addicted to golf, avidly participating in mixed leagues at Eastern Hills Golf course, and taking full advantage of memberships at Gull Lake View, and Maple Hills. He was always up for a show at the Barn Theatre in the summers, and he liked attending events at Miller Auditorium and the Civic Theatre. Bob especially loved kayaking and canoeing, often at Fort Custer State Park in Battle Creek, especially when accompanied by his sidekick, Liz.
Bob was a gregarious socializer, enjoying a good party, pub visit, or drinks on the deck with friends. Bob also liked food and dining out as well as cooking steaks, Kielbasa and Italian sausage on the grill to perfection. To relax, Bob liked reading novels by Steven King and Robert Parker, gonzo sagas by Hunter S. Thompson, and considered A Confederacy of Dunces one of the all-time best novels ever written. His musical tastes covered the gamut from many classical ouvres to classic rock, outlaw country, folk, and many more. On TV he was into the Big Bang Theory and any type of sports, but he was always an avid football fan for his home teams and especially MSU where his son attended.
The consummate morning person, Bob began each day cheerful and wearing a smile. For Bob, the glass was almost always half full. Bob was a man who found balance (or at times, chaos) juggling his home, work and social life. He was known from early on for never lacking a corny joke. He and Liz enjoyed watching Keeping Up Appearances, from which he acquired a possibly tongue-in-cheek rep for being good in an emergency.
Although he will be dearly missed, Bob died doing what he did best. On Easter Sunday morning Bob set out for work, as he had nearly every Sunday morning for 30 years, to prepare for the workweek ahead. It was there that he suddenly and tragically passed away.
Robert Garlick, age 67, died unexpectedly on Sunday, March 27, 2016 in Kalamazoo. He was preceded in death by his father, William Garlick, his brother, Bill Garlick, and his infant son, Joey. Surviving are his wife of 37 years, Diane Garlick; two children: Niels and Liz Garlick; his mother, Geraldine Garlick; two nephews, and several cousins. Services will be held Thursday, March 31, 2016, 4:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive; 375-2900 followed by a reception in the Life Story Center. Please visit Bob’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial donations may be made to the Humane Society of West Michigan where Liz volunteered and where two of Bob’s favorite dogs were from.