Robert Marshall Brackbill

August 2, 1919May 15, 2020
Obituary of Robert Marshall Brackbill
After 100 wonderful years, Robert Marshall Brackbill, affectionately known to many as Brack, passed away peacefully on May 15th, 2020 of natural causes. Brack was born on August 2, 1919 in Detroit, Michigan to Chester Harnish and Alma Louise Heubach Brackbill. He spent his childhood in Kirkwood, Missouri, where he and his two older brothers were active outdoorsman, participating in sailing and other sports. When the Great Depression hit, his family was broke. At age 12, Brack worked to help his family survive by mowing lawns and selling bicycle accessories, boy scout uniforms, and magazines. Brack was also active in Boy Scouts, where he was the youngest in his district to achieve the honor of Eagle Scout. After graduating from Kirkwood HS in 1937, he enrolled in the Petroleum Engineering program at one of the top engineering schools in the country, the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in Rolla, Missouri (now called Missouri S&T). He graduated in 1942. He loved Rolla and continued to be a strong supporter of the university and his Sigma Nu fraternity for the rest of his life. He served as president of the alumni association board and as a member of the Academy of Mines and Metallurgy. He was a trustee emeritus and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1983, at which time he also delivered the commencement address. One of his greatest joys was reading the letters from recipients of the scholarship he and his wife Cay established at Rolla. Most recently, he was honored to receive an Alumni of Influence award from Rolla in gratitude for his contributions to the university and the oil and gas industry. Post college, he had accepted employment with Shell Oil Company, but due to the outbreak of World War II, he chose to enlist with the Army Air Corps, the predecessor of the Air Force. He attended the cadet training program at Yale University, earned the rank of Major as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and, although restricted from flying, talked his way onto five bombing missions on a B-17, including two over Berlin. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his leadership in keeping planes flying continuously even after they had suffered extreme damage. After the war, he began a 23 year career with Shell Oil Company, focused on exploration and production all over the world. He quickly rose through the ranks to serve as an executive in Shell’s New York City headquarters. During his career with Shell, he moved 19 times, including stays in Holland, England and Nigeria. Between business and leisure travel, Brack visited all 50 states and 68 countries. It was during his time in New York that Brack met the love of his life, Catherine D’Amour (Cay). They were married in New York in 1962 and spent the next 47 years together, until her passing in 2009. In the mid 1960s, Brack was recruited by the Bronfman family at Seagram’s to join a newly acquired company, Texas Pacific Oil Company. When Brack joined Texas Pacific in 1965, he and Cay settled in Dallas. He spent 18 years at Texas Pacific, retiring as chairman of the board in 1984. After retirement, Brack maintained an active involvement in the oil and gas industry until the end of his life by co-founding and actively participating in several contract drilling and royalty and mineral acquisition companies. Shortly after arriving in Dallas, Brack and Cay became members of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, where they were active for the rest of their lives. Throughout their lives, they shared many common interests, including extensive travel, and were avid supporters of the arts and education. Brack served on several boards, including the Dallas Opera, St. Mark’s School of Texas, Petroleum Club, and Northwood Club. Together, he and Cay established the Catherine Brackbill Principal Cello Chair of the Dallas Opera and were also supporters of the Dallas Symphony and other philanthropic organizations close to their hearts. Another of Brack’s true loves was golf. He was a longtime member of Northwood Club and treasured the time he spent on the golf course with his dear friends. Remarkably, he shot his age 96 times, the last time being at age 93. He was also a jeweler by hobby whose beautiful pieces were highly coveted by his friends and family. And for many years, Brack’s handmade greeting cards were a highlight when his friends and family had birthdays, anniversaries or illnesses. Everyone was excited to receive a Brackbill Studio Original. Brack was a force of nature, who loved to regale his friends and family with stories of his long and interesting life. In his later years, he was blessed by his relationship with Caroline Rose Hunt. He was also immensely thankful, as is his family, for the care and friendship provided by Bruce Wright and Arnie Mercado. Brack was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Chester and Jack, and his beloved wife Catherine. He is survived by his son Marshall Brackbill and his wife Angie and his three daughters, Kathie Goode and her husband Buster, Bobbie Brackbill, and Mary Hargis and her husband Mark; seven grandchildren, Kristen Butler, Meegyn James, Lauren Pickering, Joshua Martin, Hillary Gerber, Sam Brackbill and Luke Brackbill; and nine great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his nieces Susan Jansen and her husband Steve and Jill Boaz and her husband Jim. A celebration of Brack’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to give a memorial gift are encouraged to consider the Catherine and Robert Brackbill Alumni Association Scholarship fund at Missouri S&T, 1100 North Pine Street, Rolla, Missouri, 65401 or at

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  • Catherine and Robert Brackbill Alumni Association Scholarship fund at Missouri S&T 1100 North Pine Street, Rolla, Missouri 65401


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