November 13, 1948 – November 13, 2023
Robert “Bob” Zeiler passed away in Spokane, WA on November 13, 2023, his 75th birthday. He was born on November 13, 1948, in Spokane, the only child of Jacob Jr. and Ruby (Heimbigner) Zeiler. A lifelong resident of Odessa, Washington, Bob was a third-generation wheat farmer, farming southeast of Odessa.
Bob graduated from Odessa High School in 1967. He attended Spokane Falls Community College for two years and Eastern Washington State College (now EWU) before returning to Odessa to farm with his father. He met Debra Downing, a first year Odessa school teacher, on a blind double date in December 1981. A year later, they were married on December 18, 1982. Together they raised two children, Larissa and Matthew. Bob loved being a husband and father, and he took great joy in watching his children grow up.
Bob was a quiet man but he was also a complex, deep thinker. Both compassionate and patient, he was an excellent listener who always gave wise advice. He enjoyed reading, particularly history and Biblical topics. Baptized in 1988, Bob was a Church of God member for 35 years. He was frequently studying Biblical scriptures and learning about the Bible.
Bob had an especially close relationship with his daughter Larissa. They spent many hours talking together and he was a constant source of encouragement in her education and career.
When his son Matthew returned to the family farm after college, Bob spent the next few years mentoring him and teaching him all that he knew about farming. Upon retiring in 2016, Bob often joked that he was more active in retirement than he was while farming. Matthew kept him busy, sending him on errands to retrieve farm equipment parts and truckloads of seed wheat. For several years, Bob was also called out of retirement to drive combine during the summer wheat harvest. When Matthew married Alicia Mielke in 2021, Bob was overjoyed to gain a daughter-in-law.
Bob also enjoyed country living during his retirement years. Like any good farmer, he took pride in keeping his expansive lawn well-manicured and fertilized. He tended a large garden and fruit trees, sharing his harvest with family members. He was an avid Gonzaga boys’ basketball fan and rarely missed a televised Zag’s basketball game. Bob will be remembered for his quiet, gentle demeanor and desire to live a life serving God.
Bob is survived by his wife of 40 years, Debra, and his children Larissa Zeiler (Josh Clark) and Matthew (Alicia) Zeiler; mother-in-law Carol Downing; brother-in-law David Downing; as well as eight Zeiler cousins. He is preceded in death by his parents, Jacob Jr. and Ruby Zeiler; a special cousin who was more like a sister, Beatrice (Zeiler) Lyon; and father-in-law Eugene Downing.
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, November 21 at 1 p.m. at the Odessa Cemetery, followed by a coffee and dessert reception from 1:30-4:00 p.m. at the Odessa Community Center (21 E First Ave). Memorials may be made to the Odessa Alumni Association’s Scholarship Fund, PO Box 482, Odessa, WA 99159.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.strate-funeral.com for the Zeiler family.