At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes, Inc.
PO Box 805
Grandville, MI 49418
This group supports special projects and functions for members of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.
The Opera House
PO Box 95
Cheboygan, MI 49721
Life Story / Obituary
Robert “Bob” Livo was larger than life. He accomplished great things in his career, but more important to those close to him was his loving and always optimistic character. Bob was the sort of person who wasn’t afraid to do things his own way without a care of what others thought as he was a man who knew what he wanted. Although he will be missed, Bob will never be forgotten.
In the 1930s, the Great Depression covered our nation and much of the world like a wet blanket. Jobs were scarce, the unemployment rate soared, and countless Americans were left without homes. Despite the hardship around them, Walter and Myra (Gedert) Livo were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Robert Charles on March 11, 1935, in Detroit, Michigan. He was the fifth of eight children in his family. His brother, Dick died as a child and sister Joanne died as an infant. Bob was raised in the family home in a small neighborhood community alongside his sisters, Myra “Sue,” Pat, Rosemary, Judy, and Anne Marie. The Livo family was part of a very closeknit group of friends and neighbors. On any given day you could find the parents keeping an eye on the kids as they played outside and ran from house to house. The Livo family held fast to the Catholic faith, and Bob attended St. Alphonsus Catholic Church where he also attended school.
It was during this time that Bob made many of his lifelong friends.
In many ways, Bob was a typical young boy. He played baseball and football, and during the summers he enjoyed visits to his grandparents’ farm in Toledo. The family also rented cabins on Black Lake in Northern Michigan, which gave him a love for Northern Michigan and spawned love for fishing as well. Bob was a lively boy (some might say a rascal) who was known to get into a bit of mischief at times.
As a young man, Bob was eager to see all that life had in store. He spent some time working as a sheet metal apprentice at Ford Rouge Plant with no intention of continuing schooling until he learned that working in an iron foundry can be hazardous to your health! Bob then enrolled at Henry Ford Community College and joined the Navy Reserves. Bob was activated from 1956 through 1958, serving in Norfolk and on the U.S.S. Vulcan as an electronics technician. After being discharged, he enrolled at the University of Michigan. Determined to succeed, Bob worked several jobs to put himself through college including working in a sorority house where he earned meals. He also worked as a guard at the Alumni Memorial Hall Art Museum. Always a free spirit, after graduating Bob went to the Bahamas as a first mate on a sailboat. This was a unique, joyful, and completely unforgettable experience.
In 1962, Bob married Patricia Wilks. In search of work, they moved to San Francisco for a short time before returning to the Detroit area where he worked as a claims adjuster. Bob later worked for Michigan Consolidated Gas Company for a time. Although his marriage ended in divorce in 1968, Bob was grateful for the births of their two sons, Thomas and Paul.
It was also during this time that Bob started going to law school at night, earning his JD from Detroit College of Law. He moved to Cheboygan where he practiced law for nine years. During this time, Bob met and married Kaye Penoyer, and together they welcomed their daughter, Kate, into their hearts and home.
Throughout his life, Bob enjoyed being there for his kids. He primarily saw his sons during their trips in the summer. His sons looked forward to staying with him in the "Boat House,” and they also frequented the park, made craft projects, and went to drive-in-movies. Bob always encouraged his sons to pursue their interests and supported them in whatever they took on. He and Kate enjoyed many trips together, including regular drives back to Dearborn to see family where they had long talks. He was a loving and supportive father for Kate too, and he was there when she needed him in ways both great and small.
Bob continued to experience a rewarding career. He was elected judge for the 53rd Circuit Court in 1981 and remained in the role for 17 years. Interestingly, Bob never used a gavel, rather, he used his palm instead. Bob retired from the bench in 1997, but he did dabble in law for a few friends and former clients.
During his time away from work, Bob kept busy with his many interests. While in Cheboygan, he loved fishing with his friends, and for a time he had a boat, the Salmon-Ella. He always enjoyed being active in local clubs and organizations, with a particular passion for music and theater. He loved performing, and it was a natural fit for his outgoing personality. Bob got tremendous joy from being part of the Rivertown Follies. With this group he performed in a variety of roles including a particularly notorious male drag line. Throughout his life, Bob was a proud Wolverine and an avid fan of U of M football.
What made Bob’s life and the things he loved even better was sharing them with his family and friends. Although he wasn’t able to see his grandchildren often, he enjoyed sending them things and was always so proud of them. At times Bob traveled with friends and family, seeing places like Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Bahamas.
Eventually, it became apparent to others that Bob needed extra care and so he moved into the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. Although he never stopped plotting an “escape”, he took part in various activities there including as the master of ceremonies at the member talent show, and counsel representative where he provided a calm and steady presence.
The heartbeat of wherever he was, Robert “Bob” Livo was an extraordinary man to know and love. He had a commanding presence about him and a contagious zest for life coupled with a great sense of humor. Bob could be a bit stubborn at times, but he was also one of the kindest people around. He was much loved and will be fondly remembered.
Robert "Bob" Charles Livo, age 80 passed away November 13, 2015 in Grand Rapids. Raised in Dearborn, he then lived many years in Cheboygan where he served as the Circuit Court Judge for 17 years. He was preceded in death by his brother and sisters Richard, JoAnne , and Rosemary Livo and Myra "Sue" Murphy. Bob is survived by his sons, Tom and Paul Livo; daughter Kate (Alex Low) Livo; grandchildren Christian, Samantha, Eleanor and Walter; great grandson Kaleb; sisters Pat Livo, Judy (Dennis) Sutton, Anne Marie Livo and many nieces and nephews. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Saturday, December 5 at 10:30 AM at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Dearborn, 13540 Gould Street. Interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield. For those who wish, Bob's family suggests memorial contributions be made to either the Friends of Michigan Veterans Homes Inc or The Opera House in Cheboygan, Michigan. To read more about Robert's life, to share a memory, to sign his guestbook, to view address for the contributions, visit www.lifestorynet.com.