Bob was born July 4, 1920, to Frank and Effie Bovee on the family farm in Powell. He grew up on that farm north of town with his parents and two brothers, Les and Caroll. A third brother, Melvin, drowned in an irrigation ditch at the age of 18 months.
He graduated from Powell High School in 1938 and joined the Army Air Corps in May 1944.
Bob met his wife-to-be, Margaret Dieter, in Sioux City, Iowa, prior to his deployment during WWII. His military unit was housed in the dormitories at Morningside College where Margaret was a student. She waited tables in the cafeteria and caught Bob’s eye and his heart. They were married March 12, 1945, and enjoyed 67 years of marriage until her death in 2012.
Bob served in the Army Air Corps with the Third Photo Reconnaissance group. He was flight qualified as a B-24 pilot, but most of his service was as a B-29 co-pilot. After marrying Margaret, he was stationed on Guam where he served in the Pacific theatre. He flew several reconnaissance missions, one of which was aboard the Tokyo Rose, a superfortress bomber.
Bob and Margaret began married life in Powell, where son Ken was born. They moved to Iowa to farm Margaret’s parents’ farm where daughters Barb and Bev were born. After six years of “praying for it to rain or for praying for it to quit,” they loaded all their worldly possessions on the back of a ’39 Chevy truck and moved back to Wyoming. At this time, Bob began his custom farming business which included plowing, windrowing, baling and stacking hay, beet thinning and combining.
In the meantime, Margaret started a private kindergarten housed in the detached garage, which Bob remodeled into a classroom. He constructed all of the tiny tables and chairs as well. He served as her instructional aide, custodian and handyman. He was a talented carpenter who helped build many of the homes around Powell.
When Margaret began directing the bell choir for the Presbyterian Church, Bob built stands for the largest bells and, along with a couple of other husbands, helped the bell choir haul bells, tables and all the accompanying bell paraphernalia to performances. He videotaped many bell concerts from the balcony of the church.
In 1968, he bought his first hay cuber, eventually adding five more machines for a family operation, which spanned two decades. His three children were among his first drivers while Margaret kept the books. He employed numerous local youth who came to know him as more than just a boss. They grew to love him as a second father.
He had an endless fan club of neighborhood children, many of whom he taught to ride bikes. He always had time for any child. His love of animals was obvious to Margaret when she first visited the family farm. When she saw how kind he was to his animals, she knew he was a good man whose marriage proposal she could accept, despite a fairly short courtship.
He is survived by his son Ken (Sheryl) of Fort Collins, Colo.; daughters, Barb (Tucker) Fulton of Powell and Bev (Craig) Leeper of Las Vegas.
Also surviving are seven grandchildren: Kirsten (Dr. Eric) Dodson of West Chester, Ohio; Robin (Dr. Sam) Hoffmann of Sheridan; Katie Fulton of Billings; Dr. Erin (Ty) Pedersen of Cody; Kelly (D.J.) Mooneyhan of Casper; Ryan Leeper of Las Vegas; and Ken (Jennie) Leeper, currently stationed in Mountain Home, Idaho. Bob was the loving great-grandpa of eight great-granddaughters and one great-grandson.
In addition, he is survived by his two brothers, Les Bovee of Powell and Caroll Bovee (Judy) of Kingman, Ariz.
Survivors range in age from 2 months to 95 years. Four generations have been touched by his gentle, giving nature and will miss those bright, blue eyes and his playful outlook on life. We have lost yet another of “The Greatest Generation.”
Preceding him in death were his parents, his infant brother, and Margaret, his wife of 67 years.
The family would appreciate memorial donations in Bob’s name to the Powell Hospital toward the “OB Newborn Project.” Checks may be made out to the Powell Medical Foundation with “OB Newborn Project” noted on the memo line.
Memorial services will be held at a later date.
Arrangements are being made by Thompson Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.thompsonfuneral.net or to P.O. Box 807 Powell, WY, 82435.