Robert Harwood "Bob" Strong was born August 30, 1915, in Sutherlin, Oregon, to Sidney and Lula Belle Williams Strong. The Strong family, including Bob's older sister Marian and his younger brother, Sidney, moved to the Mission Valley in 1917. Bob lived most of his 98 years within sight of his beloved Mission Range.
Bob, his sisters and brother attended school in St. Ignatius. He graduated from St. Ignatius High during the depths of the depression. He then 'rode the rails' to eastern Montana and, along with many other young men in similar circumstances at that time, worked on the Fort Peck Dam project. Subsequently Bob went to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, working as a janitor in a fraternity house at night so that he could take classes during the day. While he was not able to complete his degree, Bob learned enough to be hired as a draftsman at Boeings.
On June 8, 1941, Bob married Nina Lillian Jacobson. Lillian, whose family were neighbors of the Strongs back in the Mission Valley, had been working at a resort in Northwestern Washington. Bob and Lillian remained in the Seattle area – where their eldest son, Sidney James was born – for a couple of years before returning to the Mission Valley to work with his dad on his dad's ranch. Shortly after his return to the ranch, however, he enlisted in the army. After training in Maryland, Bob and many other young men were headed to Hawaii on the way to fight in the South Pacific. While the ship was en route to Hawaii, the first of the atomic bombs was dropped on Japan.
Bob and his dad ran a dairy farm for several years. During this time Bob developed undulant fever from the blood of a cow that was infected with Bangs. He fully recovered from this disease, but it took its toll, and so, in the mid-1950s, the dairy herd was sold, and Bob began driving a milk truck, picking up Grade A milk in the area and hauling it, every day, to the Community Creamery in Missoula. Then, during the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons, Bob would come home and care for his own 80-acre farm.
Polson became home for Bob and Lillian in 1979 where he worked as County Assessor and served as a one term County Commissioner. Upon turning 65, Bob announced that he must retire to make room for others in more need of employment. He then devoted his endless energy to the community he so dearly loved. For more than 20 years Bob delivered food from local grocery stores to Loaves and Fishes, a food pantry for those in need. He did not miss a day in this work and was so regular that when once late for a delivery, concerned friends checked his home and were considering calling the police when he suddenly appeared. It turned out Bob had been taken for a surprise helicopter ride for his birthday. He promised he would never be late again. He wasn't.
Bob and Lillian celebrated more than 64 years of marriage when Lillian unexpectedly died in December 2005. The careful planner he was; Bob had prepared otherwise, fully outfitting the house with new appliances so that Lillian could manage well in what he knew would be his earlier death. There was a bit of a learning curve. While a master at baling machine repair and just about anything else with moving parts, he struggled with the proper use of the automated washing machine. He eventually learned that a detergent worked much better on his jeans than Downey.
Bob was a fixture on his daily bicycle rides through the streets of Polson. He could be a bit possessive of his road rights and had more than one discussion with Polson police about his right to cross Highway 93 whether or not the crossing light was the correct shade.
Bob leaves six children: Sidney Strong (Seattle, WA), David Strong (Chicago, IL), Keith Strong (Great Falls, MT), Wayne Strong (Newburg, OR), Kenneth Strong (Goshen, CT) and Wendy Wilbanks (Aurora, CO). They, in turn provided him with 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. Bob Strong led a full life and leaves us with memories eternal.
Memorial Arrangements are pending.
Read Robert "Bob" Strong's Obituary and Guestbook on www.groganfuneralhome.com.