To have known Bob Bertolas was to love him. A genuine gentleman in all respects, Bob added much to the lives he leaves behind. Never far from memories reach, he will be long remembered and fondly missed.
The year 1945 was quite a year in American history and abroad. Strides were being made with the discovery of Penicillin and the Detroit Tigers won 4-3 in an upset over the Chicago Cubs during the World Series. Most memorable was the end of World War II. With the surrender of Japanese and German forces, victory celebrations were a welcome relief after years facing the hardships of war. For Rudolph and Mary (Melanson) Bertolas of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the year brought forth not only celebrations but blessings as well. On July 4, 1945 they welcomed the birth of their baby boy, Robert Michael. His father Rudy earned his degree in special education and taught for the Milwaukee Public School System from which he also retired. His mother, a homemaker, looked after Robert, the second oldest, and his siblings, Antoinette, Richard and Mary.
With a childhood of stability and security, Bob was raised in a happy home filled with love. An important part of their family was their rich heritage. Proud of their Irish ancestry on his mother’s side, they also lived by the customs and traditions on his father’s Italian side. His extended family was particularly strong as his paternal grandparents lived nearby and maintained a boarding house. Part of a large network of other family members and Italian immigrants, Bob’s family was quite close and relied upon each other greatly. Life for Bob was never boring as he shared many adventures with family and friends alike. He especially enjoyed drawing, loved going to the movies and read a great deal.
Devout in their Catholic faith, Bob spent the early years of his education attending St. Rita Catholic School before graduating from St. John Cathedral High School. He excelled in his studies and attained good grades. For the most part, Bob’s social life revolved around his close friends and other acquaintances from high school and he held the memories and associations of these years close. Following high school Bob attended the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater graduating with a bachelor degree in Business. He was always open to new friends and had several international friends he met during this time as well. After college Bob joined the U.S. Navy and served during the Vietnam War, a fact he was rightfully proud of. With his high moral and ethical standards, he made for an excellent sailor.
Bob found many topics interesting and was involved in much throughout the years such as politics, social issues and world events. He enjoyed the movies, a good restaurant and had an undeniable love for animals. Family, as always, was very important to him from his siblings to cousins. Loyal and trustworthy, Bob was someone with whom family and friends could rely for an honest opinion or a positive word of encouragement. An introspective fellow, Bob was extremely intelligent and held high to his moral standards. The only thing Bob truly detested was closed mindedness. Particularly critical of hypocrisy and sugarcoating the truth, Bob was appropriately vocal yet respectful concerning his viewpoint. With his positive disposition, Bob looked on the bright side of life and thoroughly enjoyed his relationships and the beauty around him.
Having moved to San Diego, California when he took a position with the U.S. Navy, Bob worked for the last 15 years at the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center (NETPDTC). He served as an office assistant for over ten years but later became an illustrator during the last years of his Navy career. As an employee, Bob was simply the best and his contributions to Navel training were outstanding. Had it not been for Bob, even his supervisor would not have worked at NETPDTC for as long as he did! There were countless times when Bob took on jobs that were rather tedious and boring, but never one to complain, he completed the task at hand and did so exceptionally well. All in all, Bob made everyone’s job much easier and more enjoyable!
One aspect of Bob’s personality that will be forever remembered was his genuine interest in others. He never ceased in inquiring about the lives of others and their activities. When Bob retired those who knew him greatly missed his candor, wit and humor. In turn, he so enjoyed his co-workers that he often shared stories regarding them with his own family when visiting. Bob enjoyed new cities, exciting places and was always interested in learning about them. He particularly loved visiting his many friends and family.
After experiencing some health issues, Bob was diagnosed with cancer. Originating in his pancreas, he knew his time was short. Being the organized person that he was, Bob began instantly preparing for his eventual death as he didn’t want to burden his family. With the wedding of his niece Sara approaching, Bob looked forward to her happy day and his wish to attend the celebration was fulfilled on August 21, 2010. Bob decided to remain in Milwaukee near his family instead of returning to his beloved San Diego. There surrounded by his loving family, Bob died on Monday, August 23, 2010, peacefully, at the age of 65. He will be fondly remembered and tremendously missed by those who knew and loved him.
Preceded in death by his parents, Rudolph and Mary Bertolas, Robert Michael Bertolas was a dear brother to Antoinette Bertolas (Anthony Jeske), Richard (Rita) Bertolas and Mary (Ronald) Suminski; the proud uncle of Sharon (Marc) Borie, Steve (Amy Doke) Bertolas-Jeske, Joanne (Peter) LaJoice, Sara (Max) Ekesi, Kate (Matt) Schmidt, Maggie Suminski, Ryan (Cari) Bertolas, Jon Bertolas and Michael Bertolas; loving great-uncle of Ella Schmidt and a fond nephew of Dorothy Bertolas. He is further survived by many relatives and friends.
The Mass of Christian burial for Bob will be held Saturday, August 28, 2010 at Three Holy Women Parish St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Avenue at 9:00 AM. If inclined, please make a donation in Bob’s memory to an animal shelter in remembrance of the many animals he so loved. His family extends special thanks and much appreciation to Jan and Dave Hughes for their loving and tender care, and to Bill Bertolas for his spiritual support. Please visit www.lifesotrynet.com to leave a favorite memory, submit a photo or to sign his online guest book. Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Suminski/Weiss (414) 276-5122.
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