Robert Frank Schneider, 94, formerly of Walker, Minn., died Friday, July 16, 2021, at his home in Kingman, Ariz.
A family memorial service will be held at a later date.
Bob was born Dec. 29, 1926, in Randall, Minn., to Frank and Frances Schneider, the first of five children.
The family spent 1935 in Seattle, where Bob attended a parochial school and “wandered the city in a manner that would seem impossible or even outrageous in these times.”
During the train ride west the 9-year-old woke to “a very different landscape, somewhere in Montana, the rising sun showing huge rolling mountains in the distance,” he wrote in a “Seattle Sojourn” memoir. “I believe it was at that point that I fell in love with the West — and never got over it.”
The family would return to Randall a year later, at the behest of his mother, where he attended grade school and high school in Little Falls.
During World War II he served in the Army in the west Pacific, Okinawa.
Bob and Shirley Miller were married March 6, 1948. Their first home was in Flint, Mich., the couple returning to Minnesota a year later.
As a young man, he worked as a farm hand, ranch hand, truck driver, cab driver and in the shipyards in Oakland, Calif.
A highway crew constructing a thoroughfare into Randall had intrigued him as a teen, prompting him to take correspondence courses in highway engineering. He began his career in engineering and surveying in 1949 as a chain man for the Minnesota Highway Department in Brainerd. His first project was the construction of Highway 64 from Motley to Leader.
Courses in engineering continued and he became registered as a highway engineer in 1957 with a subsequent promotion to project engineer.
He left the highway department to take employment with a surveying and engineering firm in Brainerd. He became registered as a land surveyor in 1963 and started a practice, moving his family of wife and four children to Walker in 1964.
The family built a home on Long Lake in 1968, where they lived until 1980, subsequently moving to Tampa, Fla., where he worked for an engineering firm on site development projects. He also owned and managed a frame shop/art gallery.
In 1985 he accepted employment with the Arizona Department of Transportation as resident construction engineer at Kingman.
During this time, he and Shirley would head off to explore national parks in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico.
He was up at dawn to walk miles nearly every morning.
During his tenure, he was promoted to assistant district engineer with headquarters in Prescott. He was responsible for all Arizona Department of Transportation maintenance in the western third of the state, from the Grand Canyon to the Mexican border. He found the considerable travel excursions through the deserts and mountains “interesting and enjoyable.”
Bob retired from the ADOT in 1992 and he and Shirley moved to Cochiti Lake, N.M., a “settlement” near Sante Fe. During this time, he became fluent in Spanish and began carving. His notable works are treasured by family members.
Bob and Shirley moved back to Walker in 1997. But the West beckoned in 2014, when they returned to Kingman. Daughter Mary Lee and husband Randy had preceded their arrival.
Bob was a registered highway engineer and land surveyor in Minnesota and a civil engineer in Florida, Arizona and New Mexico.
In the last few months, he was lovingly cared for by grandson Taylor Bank.
Bob was preceded in death by wife Shirley in 2017; and his sisters Verde Ann Mahling and Carmen Powers.
He is survived by daughters Jean (Tom) Ruzicka, Joey (David) Collins, both of Walker, Mary Lee (Randy) Beck of Kingman, and son Robert Schneider of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; sister Mary (Al) McKeown and brother Bill Schneider of Dryden, Ontario; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
A family memorial service will be held on the north rim of the Grand Canyon where Bob, Shirley and family members “spent many good times in the awesome splendor of this most beautiful place on earth.”