Robert "Bob" John Elliott
November 4, 1946 - December 31, 2013
Robert John "Bob" Elliott, 67, a lifelong Battle Creek resident died at Heartland Health Care Center on Tuesday, December 31, 2013, after a long illness.
Bob thought he owed a lot in life to two things: his cardiologist, and Tang. You know, Tang, that tasty orange drink. Bob helped make the stuff for many years at Post, during the drink's heyday in the 60s and 70s. It's not as popular nowadays, but back then, they couldn't make it fast enough. Neil Armstrong and the astronauts even took it to the moon with them in 1969. You may not know Bob's cardiologist, Dr. Peck, but if Bob never met him, well, his life would have been much shorter. This is Bob Elliott's story.
Bob was born an only child on November 4,1946, right here in Battle Creek, one of that famous Baby Boomer generation. His family lived in the "Post Addition" of Battle Creek, which was a residential development built by Post Cereal. Post was always a big part of his life, he even went to Post Elementary School. He had a great childhood, he and his dad were very close as Bob grew up. They shared a love for the outdoors, and his Dad took him hunting for ducks and geese, keeping warm in their blind with a little charcoal heater. They also trapped muskrats and minks along the Kalamazoo River, and hunted pheasant, too. You'd have to shoot two or three pheasants to make a meal, though, and then pray you didn't get birdshot in your teeth!
Bob was a 1965 graduate of Battle Creek Lakeview High School. On July 12,1965, he went to work at Post. After receiving his Draft notice, he joined the U.S. Navy in April of 1966, and was stationed aboard the USS Hammerberg, a Destroyer Escort ship, and he traveled around the world. Bob saw the North Pole, the South Pole, and visited the Mediterranean Sea five times (among many other places). He stayed in the Navy until January of 1970. It was one of many experiences in his life that gave him a better perspective. When his four years of service ended, he returned home to Battle Creek and to his job at Post. He also met a woman, got married, and started a family, and was delighted to become a father with his son, Bob Elliott, Jr. His marriage didn't last, but Bob fell in love again … soon enough. It wasn't long before Bob met Suzanne, and this time it was meant to be. Suzanne brought three children of her own into their marriage, and Bob loved them, like his own. He was also proud of his grandchildren, who brought him so much joy over the years. His stepson, however, is listed by the Navy as MIA in Thailand, which has been very hard for his family.
His job at Post provided a pretty good life for his family and was a good career for him. Bob started out as the Tang Ingredients Operator. Here's a little secret from Bob about Tang. Tang is about 95 percent sugar! Post would get train car loads of Domino sugar delivered, and the bees would just swarm the cars! But in those days, they couldn't make Tang fast enough. In 2003, after 36 years at Post, Bob retired as the Chief Engineer of the Power House, running the high-pressure generators with super-heated steam. He took an early retirement from Post, thanks to some health problems. Enter Dr. Peck. Bob had heart trouble years ago, and the good Dr. Cagney put in a mechanical heart valve, as well as a pacemaker with a built-in defibrillator. His cardiologist, Dr. Peck, said that with all Bob's heart's been through, he was a medical miracle. Bob thought the worst part about it was, it put an end to his bowling hobby in the Post Bowling League. Bob loved animals and mother nature. Bob lived several years at Bickford Cottage and at Heartland Health Care Center the past three years.
Surviving are his wife Suzanne, who Bob married at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church on October 26, 1976; a son, Robert John Elliott, II of St. Joseph, MI; daughters, Christine (James) Elliott Skeen in Texas; Kim Williamson and Shannon Smith both of Battle Creek and seven grandchildren. Bob was preceded in death by his parents; and his son, Donald R. Smith, went missing in action, while serving with the U.S. Navy on January 23, 1989.
Memorial services will be held at Ft. Custer National Cemetery in the Spring of 2014. Arrangements are by the Farley-Estes & Dowdle Funeral Home. Personal messages for the family may be placed here at farleyestesdowdle.com.
to Dave Williamson and Jack Hubbard for memorial contributions.