OBITUARY

Robert Burns Townsend Jr.

August 10, 1936April 10, 2018
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Robert Burns Townsend Jr., 81, of Waukegan, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. He leaves a large family and many dear friends from his youth and early adult years on Chicago’s West Side and from 50 years in Lake County as a founding faculty member at the College of Lake County in 1969. Bob was preceded in death by his mother Blanche Lucille (Masek) in 1976 and by his father Robert Burns Sr. in 1991. Bob is survived by his one sibling, little sister Janice Israelson of Pantego, TX, and also by his four children: from his “Kish” and youngest daughter Leslie Brueggemann and her husband Gary of Waukegan, to youngest son Peter of Mesa, AZ, to son Timothy and his wife Lisa de Lalla of Davis, CA, and to his eldest son Andrew of Rockford. Bob also leaves three beloved grandchildren – Zoey Townsend, Madeline Brueggemann, and Dustin Brueggemann, and one great-grandchild, Liam Cameron. Bob adored his sister Jan’s departed husband Rick Israelson and their departed daughter Sue Israelson, along with their sons Scott and Robbie, both living in Texas. He also cherished his departed former wife Patricia’s family, with one of Patty’s sisters, Carol Marker, still keeping tabs on Bob from Gurnee, along with his former brother-in-law John Jersild in Roscoe, IL, as well as his eleven other nieces and nephews from Patty’s siblings, most of whom are still in the Chicago area. Bob also leaves many cousins and their descendants from his Masek, Townsend, and Pascucci family lines around Chicagoland. Bob delighted in his lifetime calling as a teacher, first as a Chicago Public Schools roving substitute upon graduating from Illinois State, followed by long tenures at Fenton High School in Bensenville and as a sociology, social problems, and anthropology instructor at the College of Lake County in Grayslake – his career heart and home. Visitations will be held at the Marsh Funeral Home in Gurnee from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 15th and at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 16th at the Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee. A funeral service celebrating Bob’s distinguished life will follow the visitation hour at 10:00 a.m. at Joy Lutheran. All friends and old cronies are welcome. Bob’s ashes will be placed to rest soon thereafter with his parents and other family at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago. Bob was born in Chicago on August 10th, 1936, during one of the Midwest’s worst Dust Bowl heat waves. His first camping trip was taken inside his 8-months-pregnant mom, who, along with hundreds of other sweltering residents of the Lawndale district, began sleeping on the shaded and cooler grass of Garfield Park during a scorching two weeks of 100-degree days. As a youth, Bob became a talented accordion player, sharp student, artist, newspaper boy extraordinaire, and starting center for the Farragut High Admirals basketball team. With his Czechoslovakian squeeze box, he appeared on the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour radio show at age 13 to play the stirring “Tango Of The Roses” from the film Casablanca, and got to cut a square-shaped vinyl record of the performance as a family keepsake. His mad drawing skills landed him a semester at the Art Institute of Chicago. He loved Mad magazine! And about his high school hoop dreams, well, #35 may well have been the last 16-yr old, 6’ center in America, but even at age 80, he was still at the park coaching grandson Dustin on perfecting his shots and he could still recall in spectacular detail his Admirals’ admirable but unsuccessful season-long effort to upset their league rival, the renown Du Sable High Panthers. The Panthers turned heads across the country with their unprecedented and unscripted ‘run and gun’ offense, scoring 80 points per game at a time when 40 was often enough to win. Du Sable went on to play for the state championship, launched three future NBA and Harlem Globetrotters careers, and became a sort of model for Bob’s higher-angle reverence for sportsmanship and competition as a higher achievement than mere winning and losing. These experiences led to summer jobs as a counselor and coach at the Lawndale Chicago Boys Club, a time he reflected on with great gratitude because it inspired him to become a teacher and coach. Bob attended Illinois State, and with his History degree and a young family, began his teaching career in fits and starts. He accepted substitute teaching positions across Chicago and as far as Joliet, including a stint at a junior high for a teacher on maternity leave. This included the unpaid after-school bonus of assuming that teacher’s coaching job – for the girls’ cheerleading team! Then it got tougher. He took on a salaried job as a supervisor in the shipping and receiving department for retail giant Montgomery Wards, in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. He recalled grinding out unpaid Saturdays under the thumb of his retired Army Colonel boss, who forced him to do things nobody wanted to do, like doing painstaking inventories of things like ladies’ undergarments and firing hourly-based employees simply because they’d worked long enough to earn a raise. Soon enough, though, he landed on the permanent faculty for nearly a decade at Fenton High School in Bensenville, where he really hit his stride as a teacher and doubled as their track, cross-country, and basketball coach. It was at Fenton that Bob adopted the school’s mighty Bison mascot as his own animal alter ego. Navy and Orange Bison hoodies became Dad’s style, so they became everyone on his gift list’s style, and they would have remained the pinnacle of style forever if Bill Belichick hadn’t come along to single-handedly ruin hoodie attire. One of The Bison’s biggest thrills was getting to sit with Olympic hero Jesse Owens at a Fenton sports banquet. Another was suiting up one evening as a faculty representative teammate on the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. Years later, he was pleased to recall having “made the Globetrotters sweat a little bit,” prompting one Globetrotter to grab a sheet from the scorer’s table, scrawl “Mr. Enthusiasm” on it, and sneak up behind Bob and tape it on his back for comedic flair. What we’d all pay to have a moment like that on our bucket list! Win or lose, it was, again, that spirit of high sportsmanship, the Olympic ideal, that Bob brought to every contest. Bob later earned graduate degrees in Sociology from Northwestern and in Social Problems from the Illinois Institute of Technology, completed graduate coursework in anthropology from Northeastern Illinois, and even participated in a week-long field archaeology dig on Kaskaskia Island. In 1969, upon joining the new and not-yet-constructed College of Lake County, the Townsends made Grayslake their new home. He’d say his job was to “stamp out ignorance, one student at a time.” Faded Fenton Bison hoodies began sharing the rack with fresh blue and silver CLC Lancers gear. The second-hand car, none of its tires looking like its brothers, was a goner, mercifully making way for a gleaming new Ford Country Sedan wagon. Despite being good for his karma, Bob conceded his ancient push-reel mower wasn’t up to the task of mowing a sizable suburban yard, so after a quick run to Gamble’s hardware store for a power mower, the suburban transformation was complete. Over the next 30 years, Bob became a CLC icon and a popular instructor. He taught with his hands, he chalked up the board with huge, horrible handwriting, and he rarely lectured using the assigned reading material. He interacted, he played, and he used the students’ brains to inform the class. If there was anything he disliked about teaching, it was having to issue poor grades. He did his best to inspire students to want to plug in and feel good about their courses. He kept his class lists, remembered many names, kept in touch with students, and relished being greeted by former students and instructors and administrators anywhere he bumped into them around Lake County. At the school, some of his professional high-water marks included bringing speakers such as comedian and social justice activist Dick Gregory and anthropologist Margaret Mead to the young and expanding campus. CLC has been a civilian re-entry point for many returning veterans, and while Bob was never in the military, he sympathized with their post-war stress, and was honored when the Vets club asked him to represent them on campus as their faculty advisor. It was through this association that he helped student veterans such as Kenneth M. Kays (Troubled Hero: A Medal of Honor, Vietnam, and the War at Home) and the recently departed and heralded Chippewa columnist Jim Northrup (e.g., Walking the Rez Road, Fond du lac Follies) find their footing and their voice. His musical tastes were all over the map, but he once weaved a special lecture series about the sociology of music around the themes he found in his wide music collection. Movies. He liked war movies, and he liked heroes, so he kind of liked Westerns, too, but not all Westerns, because he found many of them to be stony demonstrations of empty machismo. With one exception. Hands-down, Bob’s favorite film was Shane. Remember that new Ford above? Like Chevy Chase’s chase for Wally World in Vacation, Bob once loaded up the tribe in that shiny green wagon just to see the Grand Tetons, because they were the scenery that Shane was filmed upon. It became a bittersweet memory. Having endured car breakdowns, skunks, and miserably hot and smelly days without air conditioning, the entire Teton experience was compressed into a 30-minute late-night drive alongside the Rockefeller frontage highway. Driving south under the moonlight, the Tetons were but a silhouette of their morning majesty. The only Bison was Bob, stealing sideways glances at the darkened mountain outline as he slowly rolled past the images of his youth. The Townsends and their skunky wagon spent the evening in the lot of a closed gas station, unable to motor any further until the pumps opened in the morning. “Shane, come home, Shane.” It was years before our parents revealed that the reason we didn’t stop at the Tetons was because they were running out of money and were afraid we couldn’t even buy enough gas to get home, let alone food, hotels, or Bison souvenirs from Wall Drug. In his elder years, Bob reveled in holding court with his “counter intelligence” crew over endless coffees at Lake County diners, where he would eat and enjoy literally everything on any menu (as long as it was soup). He was a big tipper. And while he was as wistful and nostalgic as anyone, he didn’t brag of his own achievements. Instead, his bullhorn touted the talents that he appreciated in his family and in esteemed colleagues, such as the departed Rick Orsinger and Rick’s entire family, who he treated as his own, as well as college roomie and author Ken Janda, among many others. Bob’s worldview was a cobblestone street, composed of bits and pieces of religion and philosophy he’d lay down as his personal brickwork every now and Zen. If statues are a measure of one’s deepest admiration, Bob had just three heroes: a dark wooden Buddha, a plastic model Bassett Hound he hand-painted to look like our dearly departed Moses, and an odd little clay monkey/Easter Island fusion sculpture his son Peter made in grade school. Those are the icons that kept watch on him from their perch on top of his refrigerator. In his later years, Bob’s mobility, like most of ours, was limited by grumbly hips and ankles and other such infirmities, but he became an exceptional armchair traveler. With his remote control, he was a big fan of National Park videos, of anything Ken Burns ever documented, and of the faraway places his family would vacation to. He was also glued to every White Sox and Cubs game, and like many Chicagoans, felt an upwell of relief and glee on behalf of the Steve Goodmans and Minnie Minosos and Ernie Bankses who never got to exult in a World Series victory. He was a fine writer, but he preferred to praise the columns of Royko, of Neil Steinberg, of Dan Moran. He admired Buddhists, but wasn’t one. He wasn’t Catholic and he wasn’t Hispanic, but he sure embraced the phrase “Vaya Con Dios.” He wasn’t Jewish, but he spoke a mish-mosh of Yiddish and wore the pain of WWII through his classmates’ families and through the Gold Star windows of his Bohemian family and those of too many of his Lawndale neighbors. He wasn’t a Quaker or even a Mennonite, but he liked them, too. He might have been the last Luddite. When he retired from CLC, his department secretary Peg was amused, perhaps exasperated, perhaps both, to see that in wiping his computer, there was an avalanche of some 2,000 unread messages. She asked him if he’d like her to delete them and he blanked. Of course he did – the concept of getting rid of something he’d never gotten just didn’t ‘compute.’ He was, however, a) astonished that she was even able to get the computer to work, something that had stopped him cold at the first password, and b) sort of impressed with himself that he had dodged 2,000 critical needs for information by simply unplugging the oversized box that blocked too much of his view of the campus. He did eventually warm to having a cell phone, though his favorite thing to do with it was to repeatedly open it up just to briefly see the screen saver image of his great-grandson Liam. He was a firm believer in yin and yang as the driving forces of balance to explain practically everything, and was quite possibly the only redhead who sported a Lao Tzu baseball cap in mid-winter while he slowly patrolled Lake County with the driver’s side window down, patiently awaiting each spring and the opening days of the Dog N Suds, the Sox, and the Cubs. Well played, Dad. Roam free, Bison. Just one other thing - as you were fond of asking your daughter when her family returned from church, “Did you put in a good word with the Big Guy for us?”

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, April 15, 2018
  • Visitation Monday, April 16, 2018
  • Funeral Service Monday, April 16, 2018
REMEMBERING

Robert Burns Townsend Jr.

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Dan Joyce

May 4, 2018

The measure of a legacy is the strength of a memory. Mr. Townsend's courses are literally carried around in the minds of those who had the fortune to experience them. He was a trove of personalized pop culture and opened many doors of thinking for generations of students.

Doroothy Dalan

April 30, 2018

My deepest sympathy to Bob's family. I worked the circulation desk at the CLC library for many years and Mr. Townsend always brightened our day, stopping by to chat and share a story or a joke. He was a wonderful man, I smile just thinking of him. Loved the well written obit, painted a beautiful picture.

Alan Cohen

April 28, 2018

Imagine a teacher who knows their subject well, has a passion for his field and for developing critical thinking in the context of their course, can make you laugh and be available to brainstorm this thing called life, and let know know you'e at the end of a run on sentence. That was Bob Townsend. I could go on (and boy he sure could), but you’re here and you likely know what I know of him or more.

Thomas Chiofolo

April 21, 2018

I did not know Robert Townsend so I have no memory of him to share per se. However, I am a believer that children are a reflection of their parents. Back what seems like ages ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Tim and his wife Lisa at a High Pointers convention which began a friendship. There are people you can get along with and those you never will. Tim was of the former variety. A very decent, gregarious, intelligent guy with a great sense of humor and uniqueness. From what I have read about “Bob”, I can tell that the “Tim-Apple “ didn’t fall far. I would have to think Bob was more than proud of Tim. To raise a great man is a true testament . Well done Bob.

Kate (Whiston) Colbert

April 15, 2018

Oh, Bob -- you were a source of great wisdom and joy for your students. I was roving the halls of CLC beginning in 1990, when I started working in the bookstore (still a high school student then), and earned my associate's degree in 1992 and 1993, where you taught me what sociology was all about, that professors could be approachable and inspirational, and that great laughter and friendship can bridge generations.

When people think of CLC, they will always think of founding faculty members like you. Seeing you in the halls or in Lancers was a source of comfort, even when times were busy or it had been a late night of studying.

For decades, my mom Sandy worked in your department, so I got to hear mentions of you long after I had left the college to finish my bachelor's degree and my first master's degree. And then, as luck would have it, I came BACK for a stint as a faculty member, where I could bump into you in the faculty lounge. No longer a student, I was suddenly your colleague. I was honored.

My friendship with Leslie and Gary allowed me to bump into you and think of you as a sort of "bonus dad" in a way that other students might not have enjoyed. I was lucky, indeed.

I will miss your insights and your warm smile. My heart is cracked wide open for your family, who loved you so very much.

Carol Marker

April 14, 2018

Fantastic obit!
Bob was always on the path to fight injustice in whatever form that appeared.
He was positive and always told me that he was so grateful for the kindness and love he received from his family.
I loved his Chicago lingo and his understanding of diversity and ethnicity.
He was a "big world" guy and will be sorely missed!!

Linda Petersen

April 12, 2018

My heart goes out to Bob’s loved ones at his passing. What a terrific man! One of my favorites. He always had a smile and kind words...as well as a story or two! Just thinking of him makes me smile. We both worked at CLC for many, many years. Bob touched many lives in such a positive way and he will be missed by all who knew him. He had such a great love and respect for his family. May God grant you His Peace that surpasses all understanding now and in the days ahead!

Linda Petersen

Charlie Nystrom

April 12, 2018

Please accept my condolences on Bob's passing. I had known him since I was hired at CLC in 1971. We often spent time agreeing and disagreeing with each other over the years, that continued after we both retired. After retiring we sometimes ate lunch together at Paragon. My prayers are with all in the family.

Richard Killen

April 12, 2018

I am so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing....I never missed spending a few moments with Bob while working with him at the College...although I was teaching in the Sciences, I always enjoyed his perspectives on the World. He always had an interesting look at the craziness in our World, and was hilarious in his responses to whatever was going on around us....

I remember him with fondness

Dr. Richard Killen

Peg Pawlak

April 12, 2018

Leslie, Pete, and Tim:
Please accept my sincere sympathy on the loss of your Dad.
I smile when I think of Bob. I worked with Bob at CLC for many, many years in the Social Science division. He was a wonderful teacher both inside and outside of the classroom and he became my friend. As you know, he had a story for everyone and everything. We shared a lot over the years, and I know he was so proud of all of you and loved you very much.
With sadness,
Peg Pawlak

Biography

Robert Burns Townsend Jr., 81, of Waukegan, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. He leaves a large family and many dear friends from his youth and early adult years on Chicago’s West Side and from 50 years in Lake County as a founding faculty member at the College of Lake County in 1969. Bob was preceded in death by his mother Blanche Lucille (Masek) in 1976 and by his father Robert Burns Sr. in 1991.

Bob is survived by his one sibling, little sister Janice Israelson of Pantego, TX, and also by his four children: from his “Kish” and youngest daughter Leslie Brueggemann and her husband Gary of Waukegan, to youngest son Peter of Mesa, AZ, to son Timothy and his wife Lisa de Lalla of Davis, CA, and to his eldest son Andrew of Rockford. Bob also leaves three beloved grandchildren – Zoey Townsend, Madeline Brueggemann, and Dustin Brueggemann, and one great-grandchild, Liam Cameron. Bob adored his sister Jan’s departed husband Rick Israelson and their departed daughter Sue Israelson, along with their sons Scott and Robbie, both living in Texas. He also cherished his departed former wife Patricia’s family, with one of Patty’s sisters, Carol Marker, still keeping tabs on Bob from Gurnee, along with his former brother-in-law John Jersild in Roscoe, IL, as well as his eleven other nieces and nephews from Patty’s siblings, most of whom are still in the Chicago area. Bob also leaves many cousins and their descendants from his Masek, Townsend, and Pascucci family lines around Chicagoland.

Bob delighted in his lifetime calling as a teacher, first as a Chicago Public Schools roving substitute upon graduating from Illinois State, followed by long tenures at Fenton High School in Bensenville and as a sociology, social problems, and anthropology instructor at the College of Lake County in Grayslake – his career heart and home.

Visitations will be held at the Marsh Funeral Home in Gurnee from 4:00-8:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 15th and at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 16th at the Joy Lutheran Church in Gurnee. A funeral service celebrating Bob’s distinguished life will follow the visitation hour at 10:00 a.m. at Joy Lutheran. All friends and old cronies are welcome. Bob’s ashes will be placed to rest soon thereafter with his parents and other family at the Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago.

Bob was born in Chicago on August 10th, 1936, during one of the Midwest’s worst Dust Bowl heat waves. His first camping trip was taken inside his 8-months-pregnant mom, who, along with hundreds of other sweltering residents of the Lawndale district, began sleeping on the shaded and cooler grass of Garfield Park during a scorching two weeks of 100-degree days. As a youth, Bob became a talented accordion player, sharp student, artist, newspaper boy extraordinaire, and starting center for the Farragut High Admirals basketball team.

With his Czechoslovakian squeeze box, he appeared on the Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour radio show at age 13 to play the stirring “Tango Of The Roses” from the film Casablanca, and got to cut a square-shaped vinyl record of the performance as a family keepsake. His mad drawing skills landed him a semester at the Art Institute of Chicago. He loved Mad magazine! And about his high school hoop dreams, well, #35 may well have been the last 16-yr old, 6’ center in America, but even at age 80, he was still at the park coaching grandson Dustin on perfecting his shots and he could still recall in spectacular detail his Admirals’ admirable but unsuccessful season-long effort to upset their league rival, the renown Du Sable High Panthers. The Panthers turned heads across the country with their unprecedented and unscripted ‘run and gun’ offense, scoring 80 points per game at a time when 40 was often enough to win. Du Sable went on to play for the state championship, launched three future NBA and Harlem Globetrotters careers, and became a sort of model for Bob’s higher-angle reverence for sportsmanship and competition as a higher achievement than mere winning and losing. These experiences led to summer jobs as a counselor and coach at the Lawndale Chicago Boys Club, a time he reflected on with great gratitude because it inspired him to become a teacher and coach.

Bob attended Illinois State, and with his History degree and a young family, began his teaching career in fits and starts. He accepted substitute teaching positions across Chicago and as far as Joliet, including a stint at a junior high for a teacher on maternity leave. This included the unpaid after-school bonus of assuming that teacher’s coaching job – for the girls’ cheerleading team! Then it got tougher. He took on a salaried job as a supervisor in the shipping and receiving department for retail giant Montgomery Wards, in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. He recalled grinding out unpaid Saturdays under the thumb of his retired Army Colonel boss, who forced him to do things nobody wanted to do, like doing painstaking inventories of things like ladies’ undergarments and firing hourly-based employees simply because they’d worked long enough to earn a raise.

Soon enough, though, he landed on the permanent faculty for nearly a decade at Fenton High School in Bensenville, where he really hit his stride as a teacher and doubled as their track, cross-country, and basketball coach. It was at Fenton that Bob adopted the school’s mighty Bison mascot as his own animal alter ego. Navy and Orange Bison hoodies became Dad’s style, so they became everyone on his gift list’s style, and they would have remained the pinnacle of style forever if Bill Belichick hadn’t come along to single-handedly ruin hoodie attire. One of The Bison’s biggest thrills was getting to sit with Olympic hero Jesse Owens at a Fenton sports banquet. Another was suiting up one evening as a faculty representative teammate on the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. Years later, he was pleased to recall having “made the Globetrotters sweat a little bit,” prompting one Globetrotter to grab a sheet from the scorer’s table, scrawl “Mr. Enthusiasm” on it, and sneak up behind Bob and tape it on his back for comedic flair. What we’d all pay to have a moment like that on our bucket list! Win or lose, it was, again, that spirit of high sportsmanship, the Olympic ideal, that Bob brought to every contest.

Bob later earned graduate degrees in Sociology from Northwestern and in Social Problems from the Illinois Institute of Technology, completed graduate coursework in anthropology from Northeastern Illinois, and even participated in a week-long field archaeology dig on Kaskaskia Island.

In 1969, upon joining the new and not-yet-constructed College of Lake County, the Townsends made Grayslake their new home. He’d say his job was to “stamp out ignorance, one student at a time.” Faded Fenton Bison hoodies began sharing the rack with fresh blue and silver CLC Lancers gear. The second-hand car, none of its tires looking like its brothers, was a goner, mercifully making way for a gleaming new Ford Country Sedan wagon. Despite being good for his karma, Bob conceded his ancient push-reel mower wasn’t up to the task of mowing a sizable suburban yard, so after a quick run to Gamble’s hardware store for a power mower, the suburban transformation was complete.

Over the next 30 years, Bob became a CLC icon and a popular instructor. He taught with his hands, he chalked up the board with huge, horrible handwriting, and he rarely lectured using the assigned reading material. He interacted, he played, and he used the students’ brains to inform the class. If there was anything he disliked about teaching, it was having to issue poor grades. He did his best to inspire students to want to plug in and feel good about their courses. He kept his class lists, remembered many names, kept in touch with students, and relished being greeted by former students and instructors and administrators anywhere he bumped into them around Lake County. At the school, some of his professional high-water marks included bringing speakers such as comedian and social justice activist Dick Gregory and anthropologist Margaret Mead to the young and expanding campus. CLC has been a civilian re-entry point for many returning veterans, and while Bob was never in the military, he sympathized with their post-war stress, and was honored when the Vets club asked him to represent them on campus as their faculty advisor. It was through this association that he helped student veterans such as Kenneth M. Kays (Troubled Hero: A Medal of Honor, Vietnam, and the War at Home) and the recently departed and heralded Chippewa columnist Jim Northrup (e.g., Walking the Rez Road, Fond du lac Follies) find their footing and their voice.

His musical tastes were all over the map, but he once weaved a special lecture series about the sociology of music around the themes he found in his wide music collection. Movies. He liked war movies, and he liked heroes, so he kind of liked Westerns, too, but not all Westerns, because he found many of them to be stony demonstrations of empty machismo. With one exception. Hands-down, Bob’s favorite film was Shane. Remember that new Ford above? Like Chevy Chase’s chase for Wally World in Vacation, Bob once loaded up the tribe in that shiny green wagon just to see the Grand Tetons, because they were the scenery that Shane was filmed upon.

It became a bittersweet memory. Having endured car breakdowns, skunks, and miserably hot and smelly days without air conditioning, the entire Teton experience was compressed into a 30-minute late-night drive alongside the Rockefeller frontage highway. Driving south under the moonlight, the Tetons were but a silhouette of their morning majesty. The only Bison was Bob, stealing sideways glances at the darkened mountain outline as he slowly rolled past the images of his youth. The Townsends and their skunky wagon spent the evening in the lot of a closed gas station, unable to motor any further until the pumps opened in the morning. “Shane, come home, Shane.” It was years before our parents revealed that the reason we didn’t stop at the Tetons was because they were running out of money and were afraid we couldn’t even buy enough gas to get home, let alone food, hotels, or Bison souvenirs from Wall Drug.

In his elder years, Bob reveled in holding court with his “counter intelligence” crew over endless coffees at Lake County diners, where he would eat and enjoy literally everything on any menu (as long as it was soup). He was a big tipper. And while he was as wistful and nostalgic as anyone, he didn’t brag of his own achievements. Instead, his bullhorn touted the talents that he appreciated in his family and in esteemed colleagues, such as the departed Rick Orsinger and Rick’s entire family, who he treated as his own, as well as college roomie and author Ken Janda, among many others.

Bob’s worldview was a cobblestone street, composed of bits and pieces of religion and philosophy he’d lay down as his personal brickwork every now and Zen. If statues are a measure of one’s deepest admiration, Bob had just three heroes: a dark wooden Buddha, a plastic model Bassett Hound he hand-painted to look like our dearly departed Moses, and an odd little clay monkey/Easter Island fusion sculpture his son Peter made in grade school. Those are the icons that kept watch on him from their perch on top of his refrigerator.

In his later years, Bob’s mobility, like most of ours, was limited by grumbly hips and ankles and other such infirmities, but he became an exceptional armchair traveler. With his remote control, he was a big fan of National Park videos, of anything Ken Burns ever documented, and of the faraway places his family would vacation to. He was also glued to every White Sox and Cubs game, and like many Chicagoans, felt an upwell of relief and glee on behalf of the Steve Goodmans and Minnie Minosos and Ernie Bankses who never got to exult in a World Series victory.

He was a fine writer, but he preferred to praise the columns of Royko, of Neil Steinberg, of Dan Moran. He admired Buddhists, but wasn’t one. He wasn’t Catholic and he wasn’t Hispanic, but he sure embraced the phrase “Vaya Con Dios.” He wasn’t Jewish, but he spoke a mish-mosh of Yiddish and wore the pain of WWII through his classmates’ families and through the Gold Star windows of his Bohemian family and those of too many of his Lawndale neighbors. He wasn’t a Quaker or even a Mennonite, but he liked them, too. He might have been the last Luddite. When he retired from CLC, his department secretary Peg was amused, perhaps exasperated, perhaps both, to see that in wiping his computer, there was an avalanche of some 2,000 unread messages. She asked him if he’d like her to delete them and he blanked. Of course he did – the concept of getting rid of something he’d never gotten just didn’t ‘compute.’ He was, however, a) astonished that she was even able to get the computer to work, something that had stopped him cold at the first password, and b) sort of impressed with himself that he had dodged 2,000 critical needs for information by simply unplugging the oversized box that blocked too much of his view of the campus. He did eventually warm to having a cell phone, though his favorite thing to do with it was to repeatedly open it up just to briefly see the screen saver image of his great-grandson Liam.

He was a firm believer in yin and yang as the driving forces of balance to explain practically everything, and was quite possibly the only redhead who sported a Lao Tzu baseball cap in mid-winter while he slowly patrolled Lake County with the driver’s side window down, patiently awaiting each spring and the opening days of the Dog N Suds, the Sox, and the Cubs. Well played, Dad.

Roam free, Bison. Just one other thing - as you were fond of asking your daughter when her family returned from church, “Did you put in a good word with the Big Guy for us?”