Robert Ross Bangs

November 9, 1920 ~ November 11, 2013

Bob was born in Reno, Nev. heir to a line of pioneers who settled in both California and Oregon in the 1800s. Bob, along with his mother and sister, lived through the Great Depression and spent much of their lives as itinerant workers, scratching out a living where they could find work. Bob often spoke fondly of living with his grandparents from time to time who worked on a large cattle ranch in Fresno, Calif. and the responsibilities he was given by his grandfather even before the age of 10.

Bob was known as a straight-forward, humble, and honest person who nobly and honorably represented and personified so many of his generation today now referred to as "the Greatest Generation." He was a veteran of both W.W. II and Korea.

At age 17 Bob joined the U.S. Navy primarily to support his mother and sister who had moved to Santa Ana, Calif. After graduating the Navy Metal-Smith school he was assigned to the USS Maryland BB-46. On December 7, 1941 he was standing watch when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. Bob was one of the first sailors called to aid his fellow shipmates aboard the USS Oklahoma which had capsized in the berth next to the Maryland. He spent the next three years aboard the USS Maryland supporting the Pacific Campaign and at age 22 became the youngest Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy at the time.

On January 13, 1942 Bob married Marlene Swain in Bremerton, Wash. who was the daughter of his Chief on board the USS Maryland. The children of their 35 years of marriage are Diane Hansen, Robert Bangs Jr., and Deborah Bangs.

After the war he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was sent to language school and became fluent in Japanese. During the Korean conflict he was a prisoner of war interpreter and was awarded the Bronze Star for his service. While stationed in Japan after serving in Korea he earned a black belt in Judo from the prestigious Kodokan School of Judo in Tokyo. He remained in the Army Military Police and retired in 1960 as a Major.

Bob met Batty Grant Wolfe in Anchorage, Alaska and they were married at Elmendorf Air Force Base in February of 1980. After making their home in many places in the Northwest, they have spent the last nine years in Oregon's Rogue Valley.

Bob was a man of many trades. He was in industrial security expert who, for a time, was in charge of security for the Alaskan pipeline. He owned and operated an ornamental iron workshop for several years in Encinitas, calif. He was in real estate for many years in both Oregon, Hawaii, and California and he was an artist in his own right, adding wonderful framing embellishments to the artwork of his devoted wife, Betty.

Bob was an extraordinary man whose life work of 93 years would take many pages to fill and whose knowledge, wisdom, and sedate sense of humor will be missed by all who knew him. Shortly before his death, when told that he had accomplished more in one lifetime than most people could do in several lifetimes, he responded quietly and humbly, "Yeah, it's been a pretty good life".

Bob was a member of the Kor-Vets and the American Legion. He has served as the President of the Board of Directors for the Unity Church in Fresno, Calif. and Coos Bay, Ore. He and Betty have been active in the Center for Spiritual Living in Medford, Ore. during the later part of his life.

With Bob's three children and Betty's four children, their blended family counts 21 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.

Bob and Betty loved animals and adopted a number of dogs of advanced age through the years, giving them a loving home when they seemed to have no one to care for them. The family has asked in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to Friends of the Animal Shelter, PO Box 92, Ashland, OR 97520.

A celebration of life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 7, 2013 at the Unity Church in Medford, 540 N. Holly Street.

Share This Story