Robert D. Bilby

December 30, 1941August 27, 2013
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Robert D. Bilby, age 71, of Kewadin, passed away Tuesday, August 27, 2013. He was born December 30, 1941, in Muncie, Ind., to Claude and Virginia (Rankin) Bilby. Bob graduated from Cadillac High School in 1959; he then went on to complete a tool and die apprenticeship program at Ferris State University. While there, he joined the men’s tennis team, playing number one singles and doubles. On November 4, 1961, Bob made the best decision of his life and married Carole Raisanen. For more than fifty years they made each other laugh and, in the process, raised three beautiful daughters: Kristin, Tara and Kimber.

Young and armed with boundless energy and determination, Bob started his own tool and die business Uptilt Inc. in Lansing. He ran the company for more than twenty years, never caving to the labor unions. He sold the business and, at the ripe age of 42, he went after his bucket list with gusto. First up: Build a winning race-car team. He made tracks in USAC Midget racing, then set his sights on the big leagues—NASCAR. He came to Winston Cup in 1989 with his own team, Automotion, then partnered with legendary racer Bobby Allison to form Bobby Allison Motorsports the following year. Not one to sit in the stands and admire his car from afar, Bob rolled up his sleeves and got his elbows dirty in the pits, working as the team windshield washer. He was truly “one of the guys,” even though he was still a Yankee from Michigan. From soapbox derbies in the back alleys of Cadillac to bumpin’ n’ rubbin’ with the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip, Bob accomplished so much in his life on and off the track.

After his last lap in racing, Bob turned his attention and craft homeward. One would often find him in his pole barn tinkering with hot rod engines or building souped-up model airplanes. He could make just about anything with his hands. But what brought him the most joy in life was spending time with his grandchildren. Whether is was a shared joke over breakfast, a cheer of support from the sideline, or a little coaching to help them along their way, he was there for all of them—wholeheartedly. He looked forward to hearing about their summer jobs and new adventures, their upcoming classes, or their new cars, but above all, he just loved to hear from them. They meant the world to him.

He will be profoundly missed by his loving wife of more than fifty years Carole Bilby; three daughters: Kristin (Christopher) Lutz of Traverse City, Tara (Don) Nedanovich of New Orleans, and Kimber (Robert Prust) Bilby of Traverse City; five grandchildren: Wyatt, Sophie, Isabel, Max, and Henry; and his beloved pet Millie.

Besides his parents, Bob was preceded in death by his brother Jim Bilby.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, September 7, 2013, at 1p.m. at Covell Funeral Home in Traverse City with a visitation one hour prior. Arrangements have been entrusted to Covell Funeral Home.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, September 7, 2013

Robert D. Bilby

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Lanette VanWagenen

April 29, 2014

Carole, I don't know that you would remember me, but I worked for Bob from 1976 to 1981, then on and off after that for a few years, at Uptilt. I often think of those years, all that I learned, and the great opportunity Bob gave me with that job.

You were always so gracious to me and I will never forget that. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a charming man, a great salesman and always very kind to me.

I remember the morning I had to come in after our new puppy had been hit by a car. We were devastated. I was red eyed and could not function. I broke down in tears expecting he would not "get it". But he absolutely did. Telling me about his love of dogs and about one he could still cry about. I had been so embarrassed to burst into tears in front of him. He made me feel OK about it. Lanette Schupbach van Wagenen

Lanette Schupbach Van Wagenen

April 29, 2014

Carole, You may not remember me, but I think of my experiences working at Uptilt often. I don't know what made me decide today to Google Bob, but I did it and was so saddened to see this news.

You were always so gracious and kind to me, and I loved watching your girls grow as I worked at Uptilt. You are in my thoughts. Lanette Schupbach Van Wagenen

Keith Almond

October 17, 2013

Carol sorry for our loss Bob was a great guy,great car owner,& windshield washer.I enjoyed our time togeather @ Bobby Allison Motorsports,had a lot of good times.God bless , take care ,

Paco Vallina

October 7, 2013

Dear Bilby family, for some reason today I thought about you, and googled your name, and unfortunately found your husband/father obituary. I am Paco from Mexico, we met at a cruise in the caribbean in 1984 or 85.And after that we also met in Acapulco on Christmas time.
I send you my condolences and best wishes to all of you. I will keep you in my thoughts.
I would love to hear from you in the near future.

Erika Lyne-Hillier

September 7, 2013

Dear Mrs Bilby, Kristin, Tara and Kimber,

I am so sorry for your lost. I thought your dad was great, so involved with all of you and just very nice. I had the most stylish and speedy rides to high school whenever Tara drove :)
Sending you love and light at this difficult time, you are all in my thoughts.

September 7, 2013

Wishing you all heartfelt comfort during this difficult time. Many fond memories for you to cherish from a well loved husband, father and grandfather.
Thinking of you,
Sarah and Steve Trippe

Heather Falting

September 7, 2013

I'm so sorry for your loss! Mr. Bilby came in every day to pick up a coffee for his wife and to give me a time about remembering Millie's name. He was funny. We all at Elk Rapids Shell enjoyed his visits, and will miss them.

September 6, 2013

To Bob's family and loved ones:

May God's Grace and Love surround and support you. I was Bob's classmate at Cadillac High School and always had high regards for Bob's creativity, humor and friendship. Eternal Rest grant unto him O'Lord and let perpetual light shine on him. He was a special gift to all. fr. pat cawley

September 6, 2013

Dear Carole and Family, So very sorry to hear of Bob's passing. It was nice visiting with the two of you are our last reunion. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Judy Linn Chipman (class of 59)

craig silliven

September 5, 2013

(Chris and Christine),
So very sorry to hear about your Grandpa Bilby. I know from our short Food Rescue times that you loved, respected and admired him.
Craig Silliven