Robert Samuel McWilliams ("Bob"), born March 27, 1936, was raised up on eagle’s wings on April 9, 2022, at his home in Redlands, California.
Bob grew up in Sidney, Montana, where he attended school, and in Sidney High School he honed his basketball skills under Coach Toby Kangas who led the Eagles to second place in the state championship game Bob’s junior year.
After graduation, Bob began work at Holly Sugar Factory, but soon decided that was not a career path he wanted to follow and using his powers of persuasion convinced a friend to join the army on the buddy system.
Bob was stationed in Germany, and while there he was recruited to play for the army basketball team. After completing his three year stint, Bob came back to the states and went to college on the GI Bill, first at Montana State in Bozeman and then on to Eastern Montana College in Billings where he played for the Yellow Jackets. He and lifelong friend Ward Fenton also played for and traveled with the City of Billings Recreational Basketball League.
At Eastern, he earned his teaching and coaching degree, but more importantly, he met JoAnn Marinkovich, a pretty little brunette who became his wife and the mother of his two precious daughters, Lisa Renee and Loi Ann. Once again Bob took the path less traveled and decided not to teach. Instead he became a sales representative for Johnson and Johnson and literally took his show on the road as his territory was all of Eastern Montana and much of Wyoming.
Throughout his career in sales, Bob and JoAnn moved their girls all over the US, living for a time in Billings, MT; Missoula, MT; Albuquerque, NM; Los Angeles California: South Bend, Indiana; Upper Marlboro, MD; Southern California; Washington state; and finally back to California where he eventually retired as Regional Sales Manager for Pfizer Inc. Not a bad overall record for a kid from the sticks.
Bob, always the family man, returned to Sidney as often as possible to visit his mom and dad Bess (Varner) and FW McWilliams as well as his five sisters and many friends in the area. Tragedy struck Bob’s little family when JoAnn died after a heroic battle with cancer throughout which Bob, Lisa, Loi and JoAnn’ s mother Edith helped care for her.
In 1990 Bob proved lucky once again as he married Sandy West expanding his family by two adullt stepsons, Kirk and Scott Rector. Sandy and Bob lived in California for several more years until Bob retired from Pfizer and Sandy retired from Kaiser Permanente. They then moved to Fort Mohave, AZ; and Bob, the Montanan at heart, along with the adventuresome Sandy and Sandy’s folks Jeannie and George Turner, was able to split his time between the Arizona desert in winter and Red Lodge, Montana, in summer for several years.
In 2018 Bob’s health began to decline, and the two packed up their homes in Red Lodge and in Ft Mohave and moved to Redlands, CA, to be closer to family. There Sandy and Bob enjoyed the California sunshine and the closeness with the girls until once again Bob bravely faced a new path. Bob kept his signature sense of humor that got him into and out of a few (make that a lot) of scrapes right up until the end. He leaves a family bereft of a hero but better for having have had him in our lives..
Bob is survived by his wife of 31 years, Sandra Jean McWilliams; his daughter Lisa and her husband Mark Kring and their children Karley and Kaden Kring; his daughter Loi McWilliams and her daughter McKenna Rae Levison; stepson Kirk and Shelly Rector and their children Hanna (Jared) Ekstrom and Ava Rector; and stepson Scott Rector; three sisters LaVerne Jones, Lynn Lokken and Kathleen Waller.
He was preceded in death by his parents Bess and Francis McWilliams; two sisters Jean Pfau and Patricia Slagle; brothers-in law, Dan Pfau, Albert Jones, and Dennis Lokken as well as niece Donna Slagle, nephew Robert Jones and grandniece Amber Jones. He was also preceded in death by members of his extended family Edith and George Marinkovich and Jeanie and George Turner.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Memory of Bob to Carbon County Disaster Relief Fund helping those affected by flooding in Red Lodge, MT.
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