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Robert “Bob” Eugene Lowder passed away on March 5, 2023, with family at his side.
He was born July 26, 1934, in rural Lovington, IL to Thelma (Brown) and Dallas Lowder. Bob grew up in the family farmhouse, where a typical day involved milking cows, walking beans, and gathering eggs—plus a healthy dose of shenanigans with his siblings. Bob’s parents, as well as his brothers Kenneth and Charles, preceded him in death. Bob is survived by his sister, Sheralyn Ritter, and her husband Tom, who live in Mattoon, IL.
Bob went to Arthur High School, where he was the manager of the football and basketball teams, and he excelled in science, math, and industrial arts. His industrial arts teacher noticed his natural skill and helped him start as a draftsman at Progress Industries in Arthur.
He sat in front of Ruth Ann Arganbright during one of his math classes, and he would often turn around in his chair to chat and help her with assignments. During his junior year, with snow blanketing the ground, he took Ruth on their first date. He drove to her parents’ house to pick her up, and on their way to the school play, his car broke down! Bob and Ruth walked the rest of the way in the snow—the first of many memorable moments in 70+ years together. On March 28, 1959, Bob and Ruth were married at Vine Street Christian Church in Arthur, IL.
Bob was part of an Operation Gyroscope unit in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—a program that rotated divisions of servicemembers out of overseas service together, rather than individually. He “gyro’d over” to Germany in 1957, where he spent 18 months building roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. He picked up many German phrases while there, and he loved to break into German to entertain (and mystify) his children and grandchildren.
When Bob returned from Army service, he went back to work at Progress Industries for 30+ years. He was a born engineer who could create, deconstruct, or rebuild almost anything, and he worked hard to earn his engineering degree.
In 1986, Bob and Gery Conlin started Mid-State Tank in Sullivan, IL. Mid-State started with ~8 people, and it grew to employ more than 150 people. Bob retired in 1999 and continued to serve on the Board of Directors for Mid-State Tank for many years. Bob was very proud of Mid-State, and as his coworkers used to say, “We built this in Ruth’s kitchen!”
Bob is survived by three wonderful children: Robert Allen Lowder of Irvine, CA; Marilyn (Kevin) Maffett of Bloomington, IL; and Marcia (Greg) Stiff of St. Peters, MO.
Bob’s kids nicknamed him “MacGyver” for his remarkable ability to build or fix anything. After dinner, you could usually find him in his garage workshop. He built many custom elements of their family home on Illinois Street: a laundry chute, a secret liquor cabinet, large sliding doors with hand-painted lettering, and a Frosty the Snowman figure with a motorized top hat. He took apart a VW bus to create a family camper that they took on trips to Yellowstone, Florida, Colorado, Turkey Run, and more, often singing “Indiana Wants Me” from the driver’s seat along the way. On a nice day in Arthur, you could see Bob taking Ruth, his kids, or his grandkids on a ride in the 1952 MG convertible that he built.
Bob was an active member of Vine Street Christian Church. He taught Sunday School classes for many years, watched Ruth play the piano and organ every week, and he quietly did handyman projects around the church whenever he saw the need.
Bob has seven grandchildren: Andrew (Angela) Maffett of Flower Mound, TX; Kelsey Maffett (Marissa Diekhoff) of Murphysboro, IL; Paige Maffett of Chicago, IL; A.J. and Ace Lowder of Irvine, CA; and Brady and Kailynn Stiff of St. Peters, MO. He loved to treat his grandkids to lunch at Yoder’s, take trips to the Pumpkin Patch, and attend their concerts and school events. When he fell asleep in his recliner, usually with a Western movie or a ball game in the background, they would leave little notes on the bottom of his boots for him to read when he woke up, usually calling him a “rascal!”
Bob was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who is deeply missed by his family and friends. Ruhe in Frieden.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at Vine Street Christian Church in Arthur, IL. The Edwards Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements.
Memorial contributions may be made in Bob’s name to Vine Street Christian Church and Centennial Christian Church.
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