Robert Gaffri


(Nov. 3, 2006)

Former area resident Robert (Bob) Gaffri, 78, lived a wonderful life.

He died Nov. 3 at the Cedarwood Villa nursing home in Red Lodge, Mont., where he lived the last few years of his life. He suffered from aphasia and dementia.

He was born in Mason City, Iowa, July 6, 1928, the second of three children of Fritz and Erna Gaffri. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force just before the Korean War. He graduated from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering.

While in college, he married Rachel L. Nielsen of Mason City, Iowa, who lives today in Sidney, Mont. They were married 56 years and had three children.

Bob’s work with Exxon for 30 years took his family to Bayway, N.J., Billings, Mont., and Benicia, Calif. In Montana, Bob and Rachel bought a cabin along the Gallatin River in the early 60s. He enjoy fly fishing, the outdoors and picking huckleberries during his frequent trips to the cabin.

Bob and Rachel purchased a farm/ranch outside of Powell in the early 70s. They retired at the farm for a few years in the early 80s, eventually traveling back and forth between Powell and Billings while he worked as a consultant for the petroleum industry. The farm is still active today, raising cattle, alfalfa and barley.

Bob and Rachel loved to travel, visiting family and for work-related projects around the world. They traveled to Alaska, Hawaii, Chile, Puerto Rico, Canada and most of the 48 contiguous states.

He was a member of the First English Lutheran Church in Billings and served as a church council member and president for many years.

He was active in the Heights Kiwanis and also spent many hours volunteering for the Special K Ranch in Columbus, Mont.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his children, Mark, who lives with his wife Selene in Sidney, Mont., Scott who lives with his wife Camille and daughter Codie in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Jay who lives with his wife Kathy and two children, Tom and Katelyn, in Billings; two sisters, Eleanore Beckman of Normal, Ill., and Marilou Paxton of Seattle, Wash.

Memorial services will be held Nov. 18 at 1 p.m. at First English Church, 1243 N. 31, Billings. For those who wish, the family would appreciate memorial contributions to the Special K Ranch, P.O. Box 479, Columbus, MT 59010.