ROBERT (BOB) G. HENSLER
Bob was born in West Bend, Wisconsin on June 28, 1936. He went to St. Mary’s Elementary School and graduated from West Bend High School in 1954. Upon graduation he went to the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, graduating eventually from Michigan in Forestry. While in College he married his high school sweetheart, Patricia Klein in 1957. He went on to get his master’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Michigan. Bob started his professional life with the Montana Department of Fish and Game, as it was called when he worked for them. With a growing and expanding family Bob went to work for the USFS and started working in many places in Montana and North Dakota. During his career he formed many friendships as he moved, some still exist today.
Bob eventually retired after following his passion for wildlife issues his entire career, from the Flathead National Forest in 1992, having spent 36 years with the USFS. While in Kalispell, all five of his children graduated from Flathead High School. It was at this time his first wife Pat was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she passed away after 34 years of marriage.
After retirement he met the second love of his life Paula Darko from Libby and they were married on the hottest day of the year on July 23, 1994, and all anyone can remember is the candles melted. It was Paula’s first marriage at age 42. She once asked Bob, how did he know that she was the one. He said, “when I first met you on your doorstep”. Paula and Bob built their house together in 1994, on the Kootenai River with a full, beautiful view of the Cabinets. They have made their home there since and after Paula retired in 2005, had many adventures in the time following.
Bob was first and above all a devoted father and husband, a great friend and constant fixture at the Athletic Club, often being called the ambassador there. Fitness was always a challenge to Bob and at age 68, rode his bike for 3900 miles to his 50th class reunion in West Bend. Bob was an active hunter, spending many hours training his dogs for upland birds. He golfed, participated in MT Senior Olympics and ran in many road races. He belonged to the Lions, coached youth baseball, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, was active in Ducks Unlimited for over 30 years and was a member of the National Wildlife Federation. Montana Wildlife Federation and Flathead Wildlife. Until Bob’s diagnosis of Pulmonary Fibrosis in 2012 became severe, he served on the Northwest Community Health Center Board. That was a position he was passionate about and believed very strongly in the mission of the clinic.
Bob spent the last part of his life at the Libby Care Center. As with everywhere he was, he became a favorite and received the most kind, compassionate care from everyone. Bob passed away from his fibrosis and complications at the Libby Care Center with his wife, Paula, forever holding his hand. He is survived by his wife, Paula, his five children: Jan Suchon (Russ), Michael, Peter, Steven (Karen), and Barbara Van Fleet (Jeff), granddaughter Stacia Lugo and grandson Hunter Hensler, brothers Tom and Paul, great grandchildren Olivia and Leo and many nieces and nephews. He was proceeded in death by his parents Elmer and Lorraine, his first wife Patricia, sister Mary and daughters-in-law, Gwenn and Sheryl. Because Bob believed so strongly in the mission of the CHC, he requested that memorials be made to their voucher programs for necessary procedures not covered by insurance. Because dogs were a constant in his life, training them for his passion, hunting, memorials can also be made to Kootenai Pets for
Bob’s life was always an adventure and he carried all who were with him on that adventure----It was a life honest and well lived. He was loved by many and will be missed by more.
Services will be held on Thursday, June 15, 2023, 11:00a.m. at the Libby Methodist Church. Please join Paula, Patty and friends for a lunch reception at the Pondarosa Room after the service.
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