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Life Story / Obituary
Robert “Bob” Wiley fixed cars, flew an airplane, built masterpieces out of wood and was a world traveler. Needless to say, he was greatly admired for his skills. Bob could do just about anything, yet it was his incredibly kind heart that made him the man people were proud to know. With faith as his guide, he accomplished much in life, and loved abundantly. Bob will be fondly remembered as a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend to all who knew him.
1931 found most of the United States deep in the Great Depression. Many people were without jobs and life was very difficult. Despite the economic hardships of the era, George Wiley and his wife, Myrtle (Mullens), of Logan, West Virginia were keeping their spirits upbeat by focusing on the newest blessing in their lives with the birth of their son, Robert, on May 30, 1931. Bob, as he was called, was one of twelve children in his family, and like so many in those times, he left school after the 8th grade in order to find work.
In 1952, Bob left his hometown of Logan along the Guyandotte River and moved to Holland, Michigan, where he found work in the Service Department at Montgomery Ward. It wasn’t long before a pretty co-worker named Marian Van De Lune stole Bob’s heart, and they began dating. Hopelessly in love, the two were happily married in the Immanuel Church in Holland in 1953, and then honeymooned in sunny Florida. Over the next few years, Bob and Marian were blessed with four children: Robin, Ron, Rhonda and Bob, who brought them great pride and joy.
Having a strong family was important to Bob, and he worked hard to provide faithfully for his loved ones. He was a talented businessman and put his skills to good use as Vice President of Product Support at Thermotron. His job required extensive traveling, both internationally and around the United States. Bob made many friends throughout his travels, and held a special rapport with those in the Asian countries. Eventually, Bob left Thermotron to work at Espec Corporation for a while before becoming Vice President at Sexton Industries, where he remained until retiring in 1993.
Most people think of retirement as slowing down and taking things easy. Not for Bob. He saw it as a time to switch gears and do what he loved most – helping people. Bob volunteered his time, his effort and his love working at Grace Youth Camp, Lake Ann Baptist Camp and with the Habitat for Humanity. After retiring, he and Marian began wintering in Alamo, Texas at Bibleville, and often times Bob would cross the border to Mexico to help in any way he could at the local orphanage. Although there were many fascinating places to see around the world, Bob’s favorite place to visit was Nashville, Tennessee, where he loved to take in all the dinner theatres. At home in Michigan, Bob and Marian were members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Holland, but after retiring, they joined Hart Baptist Church at Silver Lake.
Bob was certainly a dedicated man with many talents. A real jack-of-all-trades, he could fix just about anything, and sometimes with the most unusual “thingamajig.” Once Bob’s car fan belt broke while he was traveling, and he used a hair tie as a temporary fix until he made it to a service station. Armed with nothing more than ingenuity, Bob took his family on a business trip with him in 1970, and they were out in the desert and everyone was hungry. So, Bob pulls over, puts an iron skillet on the hot engine and cooks hot dogs from the cooler for the kids. They just thought that was the coolest thing ever! Bob’s brother even said that if he had to be stranded somewhere, the only person he wanted with him was Bob – cause there was no doubt he would figure out how to get them home.
Always active, Bob enjoyed a plethora of activities, including anything from woodworking and construction to hunting, fishing, camping, golfing to flying his Cessna plane (he was a licensed pilot). He loved dogs, country and southern gospel music and watching John Wayne movies. One of his favorite songs was Country Road by John Denver. Bob was also a big gun collector and had quite a collection. For several years, he enjoyed being involved with the Boys’ Brigade, and helped build many Pinewood Derby race cars, which quite often finished first.
Life will never be the same without Bob, but the memories he leaves behind will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of many.
Robert G. Wiley, age 81, passed away on Friday, January 11, 2013.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marian; daughter, Robin/Neil Braly of Daytona Beach, FL; son, Ron/Mary Wiley of Holland; daughter, Rhonda/Kerry Wheeler of Holland; son, Bob Wiley of Anoka, MN; nine grandchildren: Matthew, Brooke and Brittany Braly, Tara Salas, Tyler, Blake and Bethany Wheeler, Joseph and Skyler Wiley; three great-grandchildren, JJ, Taten, and Tripp Salas; brothers, Ken/Donna, George; and sisters, Phyllis Atkinson, Juanita/Ken Van Slyke.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, at Immanuel Church, 325 104th Avenue in Holland with Rev. Robert Terpstra officiating.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 16, at Immanuel Church.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Immanuel Building Fund or Grace Youth Camp Mears, MI.
Arrangements by the Downtown Chapel, Dykstra Funeral Homes, www.dykstrafuneralhome.com.