Robert Lynn Kirchmeier, son of Ellen (Dettmann) and A.H. Kirchmeier, passed away peacefully on June 15, 2019 in Clermont, FL where he resided with his wife Nancy (Bannon). Bob was born in Portland, OR on April 25, 1942. He moved to Missoula, Montana at a young age and grew up loving the mountains and wilderness. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and spending time at their family cabin at Lake Mary Ronan.
While looking through some of Bob’s things, his family uncovered a brief autobiography he penned for the Missoula County High School class of 1960 50th Class Reunion book. Below you will find Bob’s story in his own words, intermingled with memories from his family.
“Shortly after graduation, I enlisted and spent four years in the Air Force in various parts of the world including Texas, New Haven, Connecticut, Texas again, Okinawa, Japan, Hawaii, and Spokane. In 1964 I returned to Missoula to attend the University of Montana. I received a B.S. degree in Chemistry there (1968) and went to work for what used to be known as the Atomic Energy Commission at the National Reactor Testing Station in Idaho Falls, ID. In December of 1969, my sister introduced me to Nancy.”
Bob’s sister Mary brought her friend Nancy home for Christmas. He greeted them at the Idaho Falls airport and drove them home to Missoula for the holidays. Bob told the story that Nancy never left him alone—she chased after him (and he didn’t complain!). Three months later Bob popped the question. Nancy said yes, and in three more months they were married.
“We were married in Morocco, Indiana (Nancy’s home town) in June of 1970. The following year, we moved to Moscow, ID and the University of Idaho, where I earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1975. From 1975 through 2005, Nancy and I followed employment opportunities for me from: Pfizer Quality Control Research in Groton, CT 1975 – 1979; Parke-Davis Production Research in Holland, MI 1979 1981; Founder, CEO, Chief Scientist, Head Bottle Washer and Janitor for West Analytical Laboratory in Holland, MI, and Bozeman, MT 1981 – 1987; and finally back to the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID, as an Associate, then Assistant, and then Full Professor of Chemistry 1987 -2005.”
Bob’s mother Ellen died in 2001. With the inheritance, Bob and Nancy decided to buy the best most run-down cabin near Plummer, ID (much to their children’s chagrin).
“Since my retirement from the University of Idaho in 2005, Nancy and I spend our summers in a small cabin on the southern end of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Heyburn State Park, and winters at our home in Kissimmee, FL. We enjoy driving across the country twice a year, exploring different routes when we can, and seeing friends and relatives along the way.”
Bob never boasted about the time and talent he put into restoring the cabin. He restored the cabin like so many projects he completed, one step at a time. He installed new windows, lifted the structure so it wouldn’t slide off the hill, installed new plumbing including a washer and dryer, built a workshop from the ground up, rebuilt and extended the deck, and many other small unnoticed tasks making the cabin home.
Throughout his life Bob always cherished the time he spent with his friends and family.
“Nancy and I have now been married for 40 years, and are the proud parents of three wonderful children (two boys and a girl, although they are no longer young enough to be called boys and a girl), in-laws to terrific spouses and one significant other, and even prouder grandparents of a two-year old girl and a less-than-one-year old boy.”
Today Bob leaves behind 5 grandchildren whom he charmed with his Donald Duck impressions, bet with on Super Bowl Games, and FaceTimed with as often as possible. He instilled in them a love of Cloverdale Summer Sausage, lazy mornings watching cartoons and afternoons watching old movies, and hunting for morels. He trained them to scratch his back often and fill his cup (both literally and figuratively).
“Our forty-years together…have gone by way too quickly. For the most part, these years have been great, although there was at least one year that was more like… What the hell was that? …! I am very fortunate to have experienced many great times (as well as some not-so-good ones) over [my life].”
Bob accomplished so many things in his life that it’s impossible to address them all. He left behind a loving family—children who had become friends, friends and students who had become family, and the love of his life (who he was married to for 48.9863 years).
Bob is survived by his wife Nancy (Bannon); son and daughter-in-law Benjamin and Barbara (Cooper) and their kids June and Jacob; son Samuel; daughter and son-in-law Katherine and Jacques Bouchard and their kids Evangeline, Willhelmina, and Heloise; sister and brother-in-law Mary (Kirchmeier) and Craig Burton; nephew and wife Mike and Zanne (Klinger) Burton; and nephew and wife Dan Burton and Erin (Kiel) Burton.
Bob has donated his remains to the University of Central Florida College of Medicine for medical education. A memorial service will be held for him later this year.
In lieu of flowers the Kirchmeier family suggests making a memorial donation to the Malcom and Carol Renfrew Chemistry Scholarship Endowment at the University of Idaho. More information on how to donate is available at https://www.uidaho.edu/giving/make-a-gift/.