Robert “Bob” L. Hilbert passed away on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at St. Agnes Hospital. He was 87.
Bob battled congestive heart failure and kidney disease in recent years in which he showed his courage facing life. Even though a failing heart took him from this world, his compassionate character was a beacon of light for those who were open to see it.
He was the pride and joy of the late August and Mildred (Rauch) Hilbert born on June 23, 1934, at St. Agnes Hospital, in Fond du Lac, WI. Bob’s grandparents were rooted in Ashford Township in Fond du Lac County, as the Hilbert’s were members of St. Martin’s Parish and the Rauch’s went to the Lutheran Church in Wayne. He was proud that his people had their own place of burial (Rauch Cemetery) south of Lake Bernice. Bob was a devout Catholic who lived his faith by reaching out to others in need of assistance or encouragement. He also had the sincerity to listen to others no matter their beliefs.
Bob was the only boy in the last 7th grade class at St. Mary’s Springs Academy (SMSA) who returned for high school and graduated from SMSA in 1952. He entered St Norbert’s College at De Pere but was quickly redirected into the United States Marine Corp. It was in his service to our country where he qualified to be a United States Navy pilot. Despite being accepted into the United States Navy pilot program, he ended his career with the military and followed his true passion to care for animals. So he entered into Veterinarian School at UW Madison while also working there.
Life had other plans, and he chose to commit to family life. Bob married the love of his life Rosalie A. Rady on April 19, 1958. Accordingly, they decided to move back home to help out the Rady family farm in Byron. Although Bob never achieved a collegiate degree, his knowledge was unmistakable by his military comrades as they revered him as “Doc”.
Bob’s work ethic was instilled as a child when he obtained his first job as a newspaper delivery boy. He was very proud of that job and was able to purchase many things for his mom and dad. His first car was bought with money from tossing Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporters. When he left his paper route, he briefly worked at the County Highway Department where his dad worked. Bob was a wing man on the snow plow. After he left the Rady family farm he and Rose bought their family homestead which he remained there the rest of his life. He tilled the land and had beef cattle and pigs. In the mid 70’s, he worked at Giddings & Lewis, FDL. When the strike hit, he met Orville and Shirley Batterman who employed him on their farm to earn extra money for our family to survive during those years. He was offered $2.00 an hour and he bargained for $2.50 an hour. Through this, our families became forever friends. It is a great reminder how Bob felt two sides could always come to reasonable agreement. His career morphed into a machinist at Gruno, Price Erecting, and Industrial Erecting, all of which were in Milwaukee, WI.
Bob was shaped by tragedy but not deterred by it. He lost his daughter Kay, his wife Rosalie, his 2nd wife Rita and his infant grandson Shane. Bob admitted these events taught him to prioritize his parenting skills.
Bob Hilbert just enjoyed life. Simple pleasures in living brought great joy to Bob. He had a passion for the air, and took flying lessons at the Fond du Lac Airport. He also built and flew a gas powered airplane. He helped Dave Brenner get started in the bowling world as Bob connected him with Frank Hilbert who owned bowling alleys. He routinely stopped by and bowled at Brenner’s Bowl of Eldorado, WI. Bob also enjoyed the time spent fishing and hunting with his children and friends. He had a passionate affair with popcorn, ice cream, cookies and any other sweet treat. He also loved going to church dinners. His decision at the end to maintain dialysis by choice and without complaints was evidence of his optimism.
We all have to pass the torch of life and he did it gracefully. He left this world in body with a continuing spirit of optimism for the future of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
He is survived by his furry friend, Mia; seven children, Michael (Marlene) Hilbert of Fond du Lac, Patrick (Valerie) Hilbert of Fond du Lac, Susan (Tom) Ennis of Fond du Lac, Julie (Paul) Haase of Malone, Kris (Jay) Nerenhausen of Oshkosh, Tracy (Pat) Ryan of Oakfield, and Ryan Hilbert of Fond du Lac; 17 grandchildren, Amber (Scott) Wiese, Ethan Hilbert, Brandon Mason, Carissa (Jeff) Spaulding, Megan (Neil) Johnson, Ryan Ennis, Cheryl (Casimir) Armstrong, Alyssa Ennis, Heather (Joe) Goldapske, Cassey (Brent) Krueger, PJ (Luke Tautges) Haase, Joshua (Savanah Buchberger) West, McKenna (Bryce Vogt) Ryan, Madelyn (Holden) Serwe, Megan Ryan, Rosalie Hilbert, and Sophia Hilbert; 22 great grandchildren; two siblings, Sharon Hilbert of Fond du Lac and Mary (Rick Shell) Froehlich of Fond du Lac; brother-in-law, John (Kai) Rady; step brother-in-law Randy (Norma) Schoenberg and two step sisters-in-law; Frannie Odekirk and Nancy Graf; nieces, nephews, and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wives, Rosalie and Rita; daughter, Kathryn Hilbert; grandson, Shane Ryan; and sister, Bernice (Karl) Manowske.
The visitation will be held Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 5:00 – 7:00 PM at Uecker-Witt Funeral Home and again on Wednesday from 9:00 – 10:00 AM at church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 10:00 AM at Our Risen Savior Catholic Church in Woodhull. Entombment with military honors will follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Services are in the care of Uecker-Witt Funeral Home, 524 North Park Avenue, Fond du Lac, WI, 54935. Additional information and guestbook can be found at ueckerwitt.com