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Robert Steven Searles

Bob's Memorial Service - Tribute from Kent Kauffman

Donna, Frannie, Stevie, Bill and Michael, it's tough to lose a 'Bob'!! He loved his family so much. Over the last few days it's been a lot easier to focus on the big hole Bob is leaving behind than on the great memories we all have of him. But it's those memories and good times that will comfort us in the coming months and years.

Bob and I have been best friends for over 20 years. It was unlikely that I should have ever had a friend as close as Bob, as I travel for a living and am out of town far more than I'm home in Bozeman.

But we met at the bridge club about 25 years ago and it didn't take long to become good friends and eventually fairly regular bridge partners. When I was in town I would go over to Bob's to watch the 10:00 news and eat popcorn. When he was going through a tough time back when he worked at Irving School we would often go walking during his lunch hour and talk things through. Bob was not a big sports fan, but he knew I followed the MSU Bobcats. So when I was out of town during Bobcat football games he would listen to, or watch, the game and call me with score updates. A few years ago he found an MSU Bobcat watch and bought it for me. I've worn it ever since.

He's the reason I have short hair. Until recently my hair was longer than this and he cut my hair for years with scissors and did it meticulously. Several years ago he came home with a new set of hair clippers and was so pleased with himself. The first time he used them on me he put on an attachment and started up the side of my head. He said, "Oh no! I used the shortest attachment! Now I have to cut it all short." He did and I ended up liking it so much that from then on he has had to cut my hair every 4 to 6 weeks with the short attachment on those clippers. It's getting pretty long again now. Another incident happened when he was making rice crispy bars for his students while he was cutting hair. When he was done, he turned the pan upside down on the counter to take them out, not realizing the counter was covered with fine hair. The students got the treats and started complaining about hair and soon they were throwing the rice crispy bars all over the room.

Bob rarely spoke ill of other people and didn't enjoy it when others did. I'm a little more hot-headed than Bob was and he used to chide me if he thought I was out of line. Sometimes he'd say something like, "You can't say that...." In more recent years he often did it non-verbally. Those of you who know him well will know what I mean. When I'd say something he didn't approve of he would make an almost imperceptible movement of his head and eyes that spoke as loudly as if he had yelled at me. He was so dour. Sometimes he'd say something funny in that droll voice, so that people who didn't know him wouldn't realize at first how funny what he said was. He also loved to tease, but there again people didn't know whether to take him seriously or not.

Bob was kind of quirky and had some funny contradictions. On the one hand he tended to be frugal, but when he wanted something, he thought nothing of spending whatever it took. He was a vegetarian for health reasons, but he used to smoke. I always warned him it wasn't good for him to eat that healthy stuff all the time! Several years ago he decided to quit smoking and bought a big-screen TV to reward himself. He insisted it was on loan, and if he started smoking again he would have to give it back. It worked - he stopped smoking and loved his TV. When I would come home from my tours, I would always give Bob a CD with the pictures from the trip. He would put them on his big-screen TV and run them like a slide show. He often boasted that he had been all over the world thanks to those photos. In 2004 he did get to go on one of those trips with me to Southern Utah and the Wave. He loved being at the Wave and was like a kid in a candy shop, scrambling all over the rocks.

You all know how much Bob cared about his students and his school. I like to go to garage sales and Bob would always have me watch for things for his classroom like great, big cushions for the kids to sit on. On the back table you'll notice his Sweet Pea button collection. That's another thing he had me watch for at garage sales. He gave me a list of the years he needed, and finally just two years ago we found the last one to complete his collection from the first one in 1978 to the present. He was so proud of those buttons and had them on his wall.

Last Saturday the Bobcat watch Bob gave me stopped working. I tapped it and made it start going again, but it wouldn't keep going so I just put it away. When Bob didn't call to tell me about the game I tried calling him several times, but he never answered. Finally I just sent him an email saying, "How 'bout them Bobcats?" He never opened the email.

I can't imagine life in Bozeman without being able to go over to Bob's. He is leaving behind an enormous hole in the lives of many people. He loved his family and friends so much.

In closing let me remind you not to expect his family and close friends to 'get over' the loss of Bob. You never get over a loss like this. The most important thing you can do to comfort the family for a long time is to remind them how much Bob meant to you. Do it a month from now, do it a year from now, five years from now. Bob gave us all many wonderful times. Remember them yourselves and remember them with the family.

Robert Steven Searles (1957 - 2010)

Robert (Bob) Steven Searles, 52, died of a heart attack Oct. 9, 2010, at his home in Bozeman.

Bob was born Dec. 29, 1957, in Great Falls to Donna and Bill Searles. He spent his youth in Great Falls, graduating from Charles M. Russell High School in 1976. Following high school, he moved to Bozeman, where he met Heidi Hickes. They wed in 1983, had two children, and were married for 17 years. Bob graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor's degree in education. His passions were teaching, bridge, and his family.

Bob taught several years at Irving Elementary and later transferred to Chief Joseph Middle School. He had a very special way of connecting with students, and teaching kids to read was his specialty. Bob was loved and admired by his many students and colleagues. He will be sorely missed.

Bob was an avid bridge player. He was a Life Master, and managed the local bridge club. He frequently attended national-level bridge tournaments, and was well known throughout the bridge community.

Bob loved his family. He was so proud to become a grandpa. His new grandson was truly a joy in his life. He loved spending time on Henry's Lake with his family.

Bob is survived by his mother, Donna Searles; daughter, Fran Searles; son, Steve Searles; brothers, Bill and Michael Searles; one grandson, Miles; and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Oct. 15, at 4:30 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church (2152 W Graf St, off S. 19th Ave. Bozeman, MT), with reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob's honor to the Chief Joseph Middle School Needy Student Fund, 4255 Kimberwicke, Bozeman, MT 59718.


As it turns out, Bob had a massive heart attack. The coroner said it was a miracle Bob lived as long as he did and that this could have happened ten years ago! The arteries to his heart were blocked to a needle-diameter flow of blood. The main artery was completely blocked and the plaque was so hard the scalpel wouldn't cut through it. Bob will leave a big hole in our lives, but I'm grateful we enjoyed his company as long as we did.

Robert Steven Searles