Robert Wayne Luchsinger, Sr,, Janesville, WI
July 21, 1921 - November 19, 2017
Robert Wayne Luchsinger, Sr., passed away on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, at Rock Haven in Janesville, WI. He was very proud to have lived independently until repeated heart attacks in Feb. of 2016 compromised his health. Bob, or Lucky, as he was known to many, was born at Mercy Hospital in Janesville on July 21, 1921, to Waldo and Nettie (Kleeb) Luchsinger. His brothers Walt and Nick were 18 and 14 years old when Bob was born. Walt was like a second father to Bob and was an important influence in his life. Bob was a child of The Great Depression, and his life was shaped by that experience. His father lost a leg in a work accident with the railroad, and in the days before Workers’ Compensation, the family suffered great economic hardship. Because of his programs that truly helped the American worker, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of Bob’s greatest heroes. Due to his academic ability, Bob was skipped ahead in school and graduated from Janesville High School at the tender age of 16. Bob served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. He was stationed in Boston, where he met Eunice Cavallo. Bob and Eunice married in Douglaston, Long Island on May 11, 1946. The couple had two children, Robert Jr., and Dierdre.
Lucky was a gifted athlete. He had a contract with the Chicago Cubs of major league baseball. He played basketball and baseball while in the U.S. Coast Guard and played professional basketball for the Boston Goodwins. After the war, Bob was offered a baseball scholarship to Valpraiso University. He deeply regretted that circumstances prevented him from pursuing his formal education. He became a talented handball player, winning city championships for over 20 years. He also coached Little League baseball for his son and grandsons.
Bob was a proud, caring, and involved father to his children, Robert Jr. and Dierdre. He was also a devoted grandfather to Nicole, Josh, Erin and Michael. He relished his role as great-grandfather to Ella and Vivian Sinnema, Presley and Charlee Golberg, Trystan Anders and Audrey Luchsinger. During his hospitalizations, stints in rehab and final years at Rock Haven, he was brightened considerably by frequent visits from Presley and Charlee.
While his main employment was at Fisher Body (later called General Motors), Bob also umpired baseball, refereed basketball (mainly with his great and good friend Ted Scalissi) and tended bar. He was a proud member of the United Auto Workers, and believed strongly in the importance of unions. He often spoke of the fight for workers’ rights and the strikes he participated in. He believed intensely in the power of education, and insisted both his children attend college so they would not have to endure the struggle of being a laborer. Bob was well known for his sense of humor. He had friends and admirers aplenty who loved his greeting, “Did you hear the one about?” He was a captivating story teller, but shunned the spotlight and declined to have anyone write down his experiences and exploits.
Those who knew him well were aware of Bob’s keen appreciation of nature. He was an animal-lover and champion of the environment, supporting the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The Southern Wisconsin Humane Society, Spirit Horse Equine Rescue, The Nature Conservancy and the National Wildlife Fund.
Besides his interest in and encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, basketball and football, Lucky thoroughly enjoyed handicapping thoroughbred horse racing. He frequented Arlington Park and fondly recalled his trips to Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky with his friends Orv Ellis and Bernie Barkin. In later years, he enjoyed his weekly trips to Beloit and Rockford for off track betting. When interstate driving became difficult, he appreciated riding with his good friend, Val Schole. One of the highlights of his later life was when his friends at off track betting threw him a surprise 92nd birthday party. Bob was a lifelong learner. He had a terrific vocabulary, read extensively and was very knowledgeable about U.S. History, politics and current events.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers; his wife; and many dear friends. He is survived by his son, Robert Jr. (Catherine); daughter, Dierdre (Jeff) Golberg; grandchildren: Nicole (Mycal) Anders, Erin (Shane) Sinnema, Michael (Kaitlin) Luchsinger and Josh (Jane) Golberg; great-grandchildren: Ella and Vivian Sinnema, Presley and Charlee Golberg, Trystan Anders and Audrey Luchsinger.
Lucky wished to thank all of his friends who came to visit him when he was at Rock Haven, particularly his good friend, Tim Cullen, who kindly agreed to do the eulogy at his funeral. Bob also wished to thank the staff at Mercy Hospice, especially Loren, Lisa and Sara, for their kind and devoted care. He also appreciated the care provided by those at Rock Haven, especially Myrna. At Bob’s request, memorials to Spirit Horse Equine Rescue (founded and run by his daughter) would be greatly appreciated.
A Funeral Service will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, at SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY. A visitation will be held on Monday from 4 until 6 p.m. at SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME. Interment will be in Oak Hill Cemetery. For on-line condolences and registry: www.schneiderfuneraldirectors.com