He often called himself, with a laugh, “Lucky Bob.” He was a man of faith and always answered when asked his secret for reaching 100 years that “God has been good to me!”
Born in Joplin, Missouri, on January 19, 1918, Robert Leroy Sturmer spent his boyhood there. After graduation from high school, following in his father and brother’s footsteps, he joined the United States Coast Guard. On a leave, back home in Joplin at his home church, he met and fell in love with Mary Ellen McCrary, asking her to marry him one week later.
When he left the Coast Guard a year later in 1939, they wed and moved to Northern California to begin their almost 60-year marriage. Bob joined a machinist apprenticeship program, the basis for his future growth in the engineering field. Receiving his certificate, he obtained his first engineering department job as a draftsman, and this, combined with course work at UC Berkeley and Golden Gate College, enabled him to qualify for the Mechanical Engineers license under the grandfather clause.
He later held positions as designer, chief engineer and plant manager in several San Francisco Bay Area manufacturing firms. In 1967 he moved to Southern California joining Challenge Cook Brothers as senior vice president in charge of manufacturing, retiring in 1985.
Always active with many interests and hobbies, Bob was an avid golfer, boat skipper, pilot of gliders and small planes, CB radio operator, and woodworker.
A love of motorcycles from his youth was rekindled after Mary Ellen’s death in 1998. He was licensed and took several major road trips as an 80-year-old.
In 2000, Bob fell in love with and married Doreen Joy Lynch, a former neighbor. No more motorcycles; instead a long and happy marriage with Doreen, a new life in Pacific Palisades, and a return to his interest in woodworking, making furniture, chess sets and beautiful art bowls in his home shop.
Faith was the cornerstone of his life and he was active in Baptist churches in Missouri and Northern California, serving as Deacon, and a member of Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church for the last 18 years.
Bob passed away on Feb. 21, a month after celebrating his 100th birthday with his extended family.
He was dearly loved as “Papa” by those he leaves: his wife Doreen, daughters Barbie Draper and Carol Ann Bunch, sons-in-law Bob Draper and Bruce Bunch, step-daughters Rhonda Bennett and Kimberly Sizemore, step-son-in-law Sterling Bennett, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church on March 17 at 3 p.m.