WEST LIBERTY — Robert “Bob” Louis Stevenson, 94, of West Liberty, died Saturday, April 15, 2017, in Simpson Nursing Home in West Liberty.
Henderson Barker Funeral Home in West Liberty is assisting the family.
Mr. Stevenson was born May 9, 1922, at Blue Lake in Onawa, the fifth of nine children of Fred and Myrna (Beigel) Stevenson. He married Bonnie Hime of Blencoe in June 1945.
His early years were spent in and around Onawa, until age 19 when he and three friends went to California and worked for the McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation. With the coming of World War II, he signed on with the Army Air Corps. He was shipped to Foggia in southern Italy and flew 35 missions as waist gunner over Germany, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and northern Italy. USAAC casualties over Europe for 1944 and 1945 numbered some 27,000. His heroism earned him five Bronze Star Awards. He was always reluctant to talk about his war experiences, and only toward the end of his life seemed to want to share these experiences. During his time in Italy, he kept up a correspondence with his future wife, Bonnie. After their marriage, the couple farmed but were twice flooded out by the Missouri River. He then took a job with Blue Cross of Iowa until his retirement. He and his wife and family lived in several places in Iowa, finally settling for 38 years in Washington. After spending many years living a retired lifestyle, they decided to move back to their hometown area of Blencoe/Onawa. This was a very happy time, back in the area and countryside that they loved, and among family and old friends. He was known as a kind and gentle person, a great comfort and support to his family and friends in later years, and was still doing Meals on Wheels at the age of 85. He was a gifted fisherman. His other great passion was for gardening. He and his wife grew, canned and preserved huge quantities of fruit and vegetables until the end of their lives. He was a great and secretive forager of mushroom patches. He was also known for his love and knowledge of nature and the outdoors. His knowledge of the animals, birds and flowers of his native Iowa was considered encyclopedic.
Surviving are five children, Larry and wife Nancy of Fort Scott, Kansas, Beth Ham and husband Phil of Lancaster, England, David of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Mark of Iowa City, and Mary of Iowa City; five grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Bonnie, last year; one grandchild; seven brothers and sisters; and 35 in-laws.