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Obituary: Robert P. (Bob) Nelson - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Obituary: Robert P. (Bob) Nelson

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Longtime Madison and Gallatin County resident, Robert P. (Bob) Nelson died on Friday, May 26, 2017, at his sister's home in Draper, Utah.  He was born on a farm in Caro, Michigan, on August 2, 1927.  He was the third oldest of seven children born to Anna and Alfred T. Nelson.  His mother was a homemaker and his father was a minister.  After moving west with his family, Bob grew up in Fairview, Phillipsburg, and Missoula, Montana, where he began school in 1933 at the Lowell school. 

Bob joined the Army in 1946 where he served in different parts of the U.S. and was sent to Japan to serve in the Occupation Forces.  After he returned home, he met a young woman from Wyoming named Ruthie who would change his life forever.  He called meeting her, "the most significant event of his life."  Bob and Ruthie were married on May 4, 1950. 

He was later recalled to active duty during the Korean War and was stationed at Camp Roberts in California.  His new bride became the personal secretary to the Commanding Officer and because he liked Ruthie so well, Bob was granted special privileges that allowed him to compete in rodeos throughout California.

In November 1952, Bob and Ruthie welcomed their first daughter, Mary, who was followed shortly by the birth of their second daughter, Barbara, in December of 1953.  The family settled on a ranch in Harrison, Montana, in 1959 before moving to Ennis in 1968, where they renamed and remodeled the Wheel Bar to become the Longbranch Saloon.

In later years, Bob and Ruthie traveled throughout much of the United States, Canada and Mexico.  When not driving to all points domestic, they loved to cruise together.  Their favorite cruise destinations were the Caribbean, South America via the Panama Canal and Hawaii.  They also toured Asia, Europe and Africa.  

Retirement brought Bob three grandchildren, all of whom have fond memories of hours spent on Canyon Ferry Lake, fly fishing all over the Gallatin Valley, learning to ice skate on the pond behind his house and cross country skiing up and down his street.  He helped his grandchildren explore the U.S. by taking each grandchild on a special trip for their 12th birthday and a cruise with all the grandchildren through the Inside Passage in Alaska.

Throughout his life, Bob was a rodeo cowboy who competed all over the West and in Canada, a nightclub owner in Missoula, Montana, a motel owner in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, a building contractor in three towns in Montana, manager of the Bozeman B.P.O.E (Bozeman Elk's Club), a turquoise jewelry and Indian artifact gift shop owner at Big Sky, Montana, and a Real Estate Broker, who owned Rawhide Realty businesses in both Bozeman and Helena.  His last job in life was appearing in national TV commercials and as a movie extra in Westerns.

Bob is survived by his two daughters, Mary (Bill) Bridger and Barb (Ken) Tonn of Bozeman; three grandchildren, Katrina (Lonne) Andersen of Belgrade, MT, Mike (Lisa) Storey of Windsor, CO, and Katie (Brad) Pierson of Denver, CO; five great-grandchildren, his sister, Ruth (Lee) Fuller of Draper, UT; brothers, John Nelson of Lolo, MT and Charles (Adele) Nelson of Albuquerque, NM.

He was preceded in death by Ruthie, his mother and father, and his three brothers, Jim, Dave, and Paul.

A private family service is planned.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.  www.dokkennelson.com

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