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Life Story / Obituary
Intelligent, witty, and warm, Rob Crabb lived a heart-centered life that touched, moved, and inspired all who were blessed to know him. A man with an insatiable call to the outdoors, fierce loyalty, and unwavering faith in others, Rob respected others and welcomed all into his heart and home. As a devoted husband and father, Rob embraced his roles with honor and integrity, consciously cherishing each day he shared with his wife and children. Rob’s steadfast calm, unconditional acceptance, and undauntable belief in the goodness of people will long serve as a powerful inspiration for many.
1951 proved a year of increased comforts and exciting new possibilities. While unemployment dropped to 3.3% the nation additionally celebrated the first direct dial trans-coastal phone call, easier travel in more comfortable cars and on newly paved interstates, and the premieres of “I Love Lucy,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” and “An American in Paris.” Nowhere was the sense of hope for the future more celebrated than in the Grand Rapids home of Robert and Margaret (Witter) Crabb as they welcomed their son Rob into their family on February 1st.
Growing up in the good company of his brother Fritz, Rob also enjoyed close relationships with his two older half sisters, Susan and Janice. Rob attended Beckwith Elementary and Grand Rapids Central where he played tennis and proudly graduated with the class of 1969.
After graduating from GRC, Rob attended Western Michigan University where he studied Earth Science in hopes of pursuing a career in education. While out with friends when he returned to GR to student teach, Rob had the good fortune of becoming reacquainted with one of his high school friends, Bev Brubacke. Despite the inherent challenges that came from the fierce loyalties they each felt for their alma maters; WMU and CMU respectively, Rob and Bev began dating and soon recognized their hearts were destined for one another. On January 26th, 1974, Rob and Bev, happily chose to embark on a marriage by celebrating their love in a Grand Rapids wedding.
Though Rob very much wanted to be a teacher, times were tough, and jobs were scant, so Rob returned to WMU where he pursued a Master's Degree in accounting. After graduating with his Master's, Rob began his long career with the Kellogg Company working in the Tax Dept. He was often involved with projects in various states and collaborated with other departments within the company. Rob proudly retired as Director of State Tax in 2010.
Without a doubt, Rob’s greatest joy was rooted in fatherhood. With the births of Brian in 1981 and Lauren in 1987, Rob’s heart and focus keenly centered around the challenges and rewards of parenting. Rob relished in sharing time with his children. An extremely active father, Rob enthusiastically created and participated in many adventures with his kids. He became involved in scouting when Brian was young and took particular delight in exploring the outdoors in the wonderful company of both Brian and Lauren. Many fond memories were created while hiking, boating, camping, skiing, and exploring nature. While many family vacations were spent in beautiful places like Florida and Colorado, Rob’s true center was the cottage in Pentwater. It was in Pentwater that Rob felt most at home, spending many hours sailing with friends and family. The beach and sunsets on Lake Michigan held a special pull for Rob.
Rob truly loved life and celebrated each day as a gift. His eclectic interests included a passion for listening to many types of music and National Public Radio. As an accomplished amateur photographer, he reveled in capturing the spirit of nature both in his backyard and on epic trips hiking his beloved National Parks with his favorite travel partner, Bev. Rob’s desire for health and fitness led him to participate in the Borgess Run Camp in his 50’s. Soon he was training for a half marathon and found friendship with many runners. Rob’s undeniable loyalty to WMU was evidenced in his strong support for all Bronco athletics.
At the core of Rob’s legacy is the belief that all people are of value and that taking the time to listen deeply to others is a necessary gift we give others and ourselves. Rob believed that his relationships were priceless and that mindfully nurturing them was of utmost importance. He honored those he loved by being on time, following through on his commitments, always giving his very best, considering the ramifications of his actions, and affording others their voice. In so doing, Rob powerfully taught by example and provided a lasting legacy of love, compassion, and understanding that will long live in the hearts of his family and friends.
Even in the face of his cancer diagnosis, and the speed at which the disease progressed, Rob cultivated a sense of calm and positivity, heartening all who shared his journey--inspiring family, friends, and care providers alike to lean into the goodness of each day. Clearly, navigating Life's uncertain waters feels less assured without Rob’s calm hand at the helm; may it afford deep comfort to know that Rob is exploring Eternity’s divine trails and tranquil lakes free of earthly limitations and with a smile of gratitude for his time spent with each of you.
Robert W. Crabb, age 66, of Kalamazoo died on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at Rose Arbor Hospice. Members of his family include his wife Beverly, son Brian (Jeni), daughter Lauren, brother Fritz (Cathy), niece Libby (Andrew Wahlstrom), two half sisters: Susan Loda and Janice Anderson (James), and two friends Dr. Robert and Colleen Barker, whom he regarded as a brother and sister.
A service to celebrate his life will be held at 10:30 am on Monday, June 19 at Kanley Memorial Chapel which is located on Michigan Avenue on Western Michigan University’s West campus. A reception following will be held at the Gilmore House located at 1219 Short Road. Please visit Rob’s personal web page at www.BetzlerFuneralHome.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guestbook. Memorial donations may be made to Paws with a Cause (https://www.pawswithacause.org/) or Western Michigan University.