Robert Gene Broberg died Dec. 31, 2017, from sudden cardiac arrest. He was 85. Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Beverly Mae Broberg, on Oct. 28, 2017. She was 84.
Bob was an honest, generous and fun-loving man whose death leaves a void in the lives of his family and friends, but his passing ended the deep pain of losing Beverly after 65 years of marriage. Those who knew Bob and Bev take comfort in the thought their separation was brief and they are together once again.
Bob was born on March 28, 1932, in Aneta, N.D., to Olaf and Helen Broberg. Bob was about 5 when the family, including older siblings Annabelle and Edward, loaded all their belongings in a truck, left their farm and moved to Washington.
The family built a simple home in Des Moines – simple as in indoor plumbing would come later – where Bob attended elementary school, roamed the beach like Huck Finn and played in the newly built Des Moines Fieldhouse.
After the family moved to Seattle, Bob briefly attended Franklin High School before landing at Cleveland High School. Bob graduated from Cleveland in 1950 – but not before returning to Aneta for a year after his dad bought a café there. That experience provided fodder for stories Bob would tell – and retell – for the rest of his life.
Bob stepped off the train in Aneta just in time to join the basketball team for the state playoffs. He played six-man football, flipped burgers, pitched hay bundles and drove a team of draft horses – which farted in his face with every step.
Back at Cleveland, Bob lettered in football, basketball and baseball and was featured as a Seattle Post Intelligencer high school athlete of the week. A reproduction of his newspaper caricature was a treasured possession that now hangs proudly in his son’s rec room.
Bob ran with a rowdy crowd, but after locking eyes with Bev in the halls of Cleveland, he happily took the fork in the road that led to love, marriage and life as an extraordinary family man.
Bob attended Everett Junior College for two quarters and played on the football and basketball teams before dropping out to join the aircraft mechanic apprenticeship program at Boeing. Bob and Bev were married on May 2, 1952.
Over the next few years Bob and Bev welcomed a son, Brad, and a daughter, Robin. During that time Bob served in the U.S. Naval Reserve as a member of a submarine crew.
The family lived in various Seattle neighborhoods before eventually moving from South Park to Federal Way in 1967. By that time Bob had traded his mechanic overhauls for a shirt and tie to join the industrial engineering side of Boeing, where he became a supervisor before retiring after nearly 40 years.
Bob and Bev lived in a cul de sac in Marine Hills where many of the neighbors became friends for life. The home was where the Broberg/Bullock family gathered for holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. Bob made countless “old lady runs” in which he ferried elderly relatives to and from the celebrations.
Bob was a Mr. Fix It who finished the family’s basement, poured a large patio/sports court, built a koi pond and helped many friends and family members with various repairs and projects. He camped, fished, played golf – recording a hole in one at the age of 79 – and ran two half-marathons. As he approached retirement, he became a skilled woodworker with a garage full of tools and equipment.
Bob loved sports and was a longtime Husky football season ticket holder – and tailgater – before passing the tickets on to his son. Bob and Bev spent countless afternoons and evenings in the bleachers at their grandchildren’s sports events. When grandson Aaron earned a basketball scholarship to Seattle University, they bought four season tickets for every home game so they could bring family and friends.
Bob’s dream of owning a large piece of land came true in 1997 when he and Bev moved to 10 wooded acres in South Prairie in rural Pierce County. Land was cleared, a cozy cabin built and a sprawling outbuilding constructed that included a mother-in-law apartment, family room, spacious loft and expansive workshop.
Nothing made Bob happier than climbing aboard his John Deere tractor to mow, haul and grade from one end of the carefully tended property to the other. He loved to share vegetables from his bountiful garden and was in his glory presiding over pig roasts after building a cinderblock barbecue pit.
Bob was a man of many colorful expressions, which grew less and less filtered over the years, much to Bev’s dismay. Example: “Couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle.” The printability went downhill from there.
Bob and Bev returned to Federal Way in 2015 to live with daughter Robin and her husband, Arnold, after Bev was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Bob provided loving care to Bev throughout her illness – a demanding act of devotion that none who witnessed will ever forget.
Bob was preceded in death by granddaughter Deminica Broussard. He is survived by: brother Edward; brother-in-law Dennis Bullock and his wife, Kathy; son Brad Broberg and his wife, Julee; daughter Robin Broussard and her husband, Arnold; grandson Joshua Broussard, his wife, Ashley, and their two children, Jaxton and Kamden; grandson Aaron Broussard, his wife, Katie, and their three children, Aiden, Maiya and Mason; and granddaughter Rachel Broberg.
A memorial celebration of Bob’s life will be held June 9 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Des Moines Beach Park Event Center.