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Robert's Story

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Robert Leroy "Bob" Rutenbeck, 96, a long time Clinton resident, died peacefully on May 17 in his home in Port Townsend, Washington, with his loving son Tom at his bedside.

Bob was born August 6, 1920, in Lost Nation, Iowa, the first of three sons of Harry and Leta Rutenbeck. Bob was born with the love of words and a song in his heart (his father played mean ragtime piano, his uncle played with John Philip Sousa, and his Aunt Rica was the editor of the Lost Nation News). At thirteen, he was recruited to be the drummer for the Lost Nation High school band which then won the national championship!

Bob studied journalism at the University of Iowa where he covered the Arts for the campus Daily Iowan. But World War II interrupted his collegiate career. He joined the Navy after Pearl Harbor and was recruited to play the drum in the Navy Pre-Flight Band, among others.

Bob married Marjorie Harrington of DeWitt, in 1943. They lived in Iowa City where they started a family and from which he made various tours of duty. At war's end, Bob returned to UI to finish his B.A.

In 1950 Bob and Marge moved to Clinton where Bob became a popular realtor and insurance agent. He was very active in the Lions Club, the Summer Band and the Clinton Symphony. He loved playing with the small combo, the Mellow Tones, bringing joy to groups of seniors all over the area. He was a founding member of the Unitarian Fellowship, helping them acquire a permanent home. Bob was a lifelong aficionado of golf, fishing, gardening and "bon mots."

In 2000 "Iowa Bob" and Marge followed their son, Tom to Port Townsend, Washington, where he made many friends, all of whom enjoyed his encyclopedic knowledge, his wit, his kindness and his sense of humor. Bob loved playing pool with his buddies, feeding birds and exploring neighborhood and community. And, of course, he became the oldest member of the Port Townsend Summer Band.

Wherever he went, Bob's greatest love was engaging with people, often sharing his knowledge, curiosity and humor. He would frequently introduce himself as "Bob with one 'O'!"

"Iowa Bob" is survived by his loving wife of 73 years, Marjorie; his brother Harry "Bud" (Jackie) Rutenbeck of Clinton; son Tom Rutenbeck (Joanna Sanders) of Port Townsend; daughters Heidi Mulac of Iowa City and Vicki Stollmeyer (David) of Glen Ellen, California; 7 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his brother John William and Heidi's husband Jim Mulac.

There will be a celebration of Bob's life at Quimper UU Fellowship in Port Townsend on July 30th at 2 PM.
Published on May 30, 2017
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