OXFORD, IOWA — STOPKO– Robert “Bobby” Richard, 77, Oxford, Iowa, died Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, at his home surrounded by his family and friends. Robert was born in Windber, the son of John Stopko and Thelma (Yonish) Stopko. As the son of a coal miner and the church cook, he was raised in Windber and attended Richland High School. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the USAF, where he completed his basic training at Sampson Air Force base in Geneva, N.Y., in 1954. Robert served in many places, including Colorado, Illinois, Canada, Japan, Turkey, Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Wyoming, Iowa and Michigan. He also served two tours in Vietnam with 17 missions, and upon learning of his cancer prognosis, he was quoted as saying “I have done two tours and 17 missions and survived, I guess this is the 18th mission.” Robert retired in 1975 and moved the family to Iowa. Many jobs followed, ending with his retirement from the University of Iowa after 22 years. Robert was preceded in death by his parents; sister-in- law, Anna Stopko; and brother-in-law, Clinton Cahoon. Robert married Betty Jean (Gage), the daughter of Raymond and Beulah (Peck) Gage of Brimley, Mich. on Aug. 12, 1961, in Rudyard, Mich. He loved to go on cruises with Betty and play euchre on Thursday evening at the American Legion in Oxford, where he was a longtime member and served as the Legion commander in 1991, 1996 and 1997. Robert also was a huge Hawkeye fan, predicting out- comes till the end. He regularly attended Hawkeye football games. Robert also enjoyed watching all of his grandkids participate in different sporting events. Softball, basketball, volleyball, football, dance, he watched them all. Every year, Robert and Betty would head off to Florida to spend time with a special group of friends. Robert also enjoyed Minnesota and fishing with Sam. Robert was also “dad” to many others over the years – Judy Schwab, Martin Birley, Waneta Tomas and Jill Serrino. In June 2012, he was honored to become the first Vietnam veteran to attend the honor flight and see Washington, D.C., and all its monuments. The welcome home he received closed a long awaited chapter in his life. That was a very happy day for him. He is survived by his wife, Betty (Gage) Stopko of Oxford; four children, Michael Stopko (Lori Langenburg), and their three children, Nash, Mitchell and Lauren, all of Tiffin, Iowa; Melody Drewis (Tim Drewis), and their children, Kayla Morrissey (Travis Aldeman), all of Oxford; Moriah Williams (Brandon Williams), Tiffin; Kennedy and Lincoln Drewis, Tripoli, Iowa; Kevin Stopko (Amy Sass), and their children, Olivia and Peyton Stopko, all of Homestead, Iowa; Holly Poeschel (Jimmy Poeschel), and their children, Johnathan and Kara Poeschel, all of Riverside, Iowa; one great-grandson, Ryker William Aldeman (Kayla and Travis), Oxford; sister-inlaw, Dorothy Knudson, Walla Walla, Wash.; two sisters, Thelma Fetchik (Joe Fetchik), Washingtonville, N.Y., and Anna Deitz (Larry Deitz), Levittown, Pa.; brother, John Stopko Jr., Windber; many nieces and nephews; and his beloved dog, Lexi. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at St. Mary’s Auditorium in Oxford, where a parish vigil service will be held at 8 p.m. Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Oxford, with burial to follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery, where full military honors will be performed. Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service is caring for Robert’s family and his service. A memorial fund has been established in his memory. Online condolences may be sent for his family at www.gayandciha.com.
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