Robert "Bob" Eugene Unruh
December 20, 1927 – March 26, 2021
Robert Eugene “Bob” Unruh, born December 20, 1927, passed from this life on March 26, 2021, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Funeral services will be held at 1 pm on Wednesday, March 31 at Saint Matthew United Methodist Church in Midwest City. The service will be live-streamed at www.Facebook.com/StMatthewMWC and available at www.stmatthew.org Born on a farm northwest of Meno, Oklahoma, to Tobe Burnett Unruh and Minnie Unruh, Bob was the fifth of ten children in this Mennonite family. The family moved to Enid, Oklahoma in 1936 where Bob attended school and worked in several grocery stores, including Safeway. He met Melva Fae Allen of Lahoma on a blind date. The couple married on October 19, 1946, in Wellington, KS. They made their first home together in Lahoma, moving to Enid the following year. Bob continued to work for Safeway Stores, Inc., and after several years of full-time work, he was promoted to store manager. In the mid-1950s, the family moved to the Oklahoma City area, settling in Midwest City, where they joined Saint Matthew Methodist Church in 1956. Bob and Melva team-taught a Sunday school class for four-year-old children for many years. The couple raised their daughters in that church, remaining good and faithful members until death.
Bob was promoted to District Manager for Safeway in about 1962. During his career he oversaw stores in many towns in Oklahoma and Kansas, and also spent three years supervising stores in and around Austin, TX. Altogether Bob directed operations for 125 different Safeway stores. He enjoyed management and built an impressive knowledge base of retail business from practical experience over time. He especially loved working with the employees of these many stores. He drove over 1,000 miles weekly during his career as a District Manager, visiting all his stores frequently.
The couple and their four daughters took a two-week driving trip every summer, seeing much of the country. It amazed the family that Bob—who drove so much every week for work—loved to get in the car and drive for vacation, too! Those long car trips provided many stories told repeatedly at family gatherings, bringing smiles to all.
After 43 years in the grocery business, with much of it involving his solo travel, Bob retired in 1987. He and Melva were almost never separated after his retirement and began several completely new activities: traveling the world, operating a booth at craft shows all over Oklahoma, and organizing annual reunions for both sides of their large extended family. Bob became a skilled woodworker and Melva sewed and embroidered quilts and other textile items. The two of them operated a large quilting machine, with Melva designing and assembling the quilts while Bob operated the needle and template for the quilting pattern. They were a great team, sometimes assembling four quilts in a day.
Between craft shows, Bob and Melva traveled extensively. They took two long summer road trips, driving across western Canada and exploring Alaska and then across Canada to the east, visiting its eastern most provinces. They also joined a retiree travel club and took extended trips with that group to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and many of the 48 contiguous United States.
Every June, Bob and Melva organized a potluck family reunion, one Sunday for the Unruh extended family and one Sunday for Melva’s Allen clan. Held in Enid, these gatherings were enjoyed by all and included Bob serving as emcee on a small portable sound system. He and Melva loved presiding and collected “door prizes” all year. Especially prized were the couples’ homemade gifts for the children, and those children then grew up and brought their own little ones. Bob was the unofficial contact person for both families, maintaining detailed contact lists updated frequently until just a few months before his death. He also maintained an annual line item in his personal budget for birthday cards and stamps, sending a card and personal letter to many, many extended family members.
After Melva’s health brought their travel and craft show attendance to an end, Bob began volunteer work at Midwest Regional Hospital and the Mid-Del Food Pantry. Ultimately, he gave up those activities to become Melva’s full-time caregiver. She was a born teacher, and he was a willing learner as she taught him the housekeeping and cooking skills she could no longer manage. He became an accomplished cook and was known for baking great pies and quick breads. Bob was truly a life-long learner.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Melva, his wife of 66 years, three sisters (Phyllis (Ersel) Dixon, Viola (John) Friesen, and Lily (Edward) Dunn), and two brothers (Elmer and Edwin). He is survived by brothers Gerald (Norma) of Yukon, Leslie (Mary Ann) of Odessa, Texas, Claude of Enid, and Bill (Donna) of Enid. Surviving daughters are Connie Blakney and Deborah Allison of Edmond, Pamela Brown and husband Terry of Stillwater, and Robin Smith and husband Joe of Parthenon, Arkansas. Also surviving are five grandchildren: Helen (Robert) Kotson of Bellaire, Ohio, David Blakney of Edmond, Tobie Cunningham of Edmond, Holly (Mark) Hamilton of Bixby, and Donald Brown of Stillwater. Bob is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Kevin and Brian Coughlan, Bennett “Dash” Cunningham, Tucker and Piper Anderson, and Logan and Paige Hamilton. Pallbearers will be sons-in-law Joe Smith and Terry Brown, Grandson Donald Brown, Grandson Brian Coughlan, Great-grandson Dash Cunningham, nephew Jeff Unruh.
- Joe Smith
- Terry Brown
- Donald Brown
- Dash Cunningham
- Jeff Unruh
- Brian Coughlan
The Pumpkin Patch, St. Matthew UMC
300 N. Air Depot Blvd., Midwest City, Oklahoma 73110
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Robert "Bob" Eugene Unruh
Mark & Sharon Allen
March 29, 2021
There was no one like our Uncle Bob. The only time I remember him getting a little testy with me was the one time he tried to teach me to golf when I was little. I still can't golf. Our boys thought he was the best. At the mention of his name, they would confirm with "The uncle who makes us toys and gives us quarters?" Sharon always referred to him as a genuinely kind soul and good man. We are all saddened by the loss of this great man and he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.