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Robert “Bob” Nial Tidball, 84, Ellison Bay, passed away peacefully on Friday, November 24, 2023. He was born January 15, 1939 in Brookings, South Dakota to Nial Edward and Elaine Caroline (Linquist) Tidball.
Bob grew up in Aberdeen, South Dakota and graduated from Aberdeen Central High School in 1957. He attended South Dakota State University for one year before transferring to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962 with a B.S. Degree in Naval Sciences. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander during his seven years of service in the U.S. Navy. During his naval career, he served overseas onboard the Mitscher Class Destroyer USS Wilkinson (DL-5) which was classified as a “Destroyer Leader”. He later served in the Brown Water Navy Riverine Force working closely with the South Vietnamese Navy patrolling the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. After his service in Vietnam, he served as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA.
He received the following awards and citations during his service: Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V”, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Vietnam Service Ribbon, Vietnamese Citations with Award of Cross of Gallantry (Brigade Level) with 2 Bronze Stars and a Combat Action Ribbon. Following seven years of distinguished service, he was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1969.
Bob received an MBA degree from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business in March 1971, graduating 3 months early after accelerating his academic program. After graduation, he held various management/executive positions with Gould, Inc. in Lease Operations, as President of Tiger Financial Services and as Vice President and General Manager of North America Car Corporation (which became General Electric Rail Services Corporation). Bob then served as Executive Vice President of Hunter Keith, Inc. in Minneapolis, MN and as President of its Packer River subsidiary. Bob finished his business career serving as CEO and Chairman of the Board of PLM International, Inc. in San Francisco, CA. Bob also served on the Board of Directors of FreightCar America and served on the Board of the American Railcar Institute and Railroad Supply Association.
He married Barbara Ann Jun on September 21, 1963 in San Diego, CA. They loved to travel throughout the United States and to foreign countries during their marriage. They especially enjoyed attending various Winter Olympics with friends to support the US teams during the games.
Bob became a loyal Chicago Bears football fan since the only football games that were aired on the radio in South Dakota were Chicago Bears football games. He maintained season tickets for over 40 years and often traveled to the home games from California and Door County to support his team. He thoroughly enjoyed inviting other Bears fans to these games. He also attended Navy football games on occasion to support his alma mater.
Bob had a love for horses as his father owned and trained thoroughbreds and they co-owned a racehorse named Sunshot. He was always a competitive sportsman and was known to place bets on any athletic activity or a friendly game of cards. He enjoyed reading a good book, playing chess and board games with his grandchildren, watching his grandchildren participate in sporting events and singing along to good tunes. Barbara and Bob fell in love with Door County while visiting a friend and decided to retire in Ellison Bay. They purchased the perfect property for Bob to raise and ride his horses as both he and Barbara could enjoy all that nature provided. It was a magical time as they made new friends and shared love for their new community.
Bob was devoted to volunteerism during his retirement. He was an active member of VFW Post #8337 in Liberty Grove and served as the Post Commander from 2014-2016. He was elected to the position of Liberty Grove Town Board Supervisor in 2009. He served as the Chairman of the Parks and Properties Committee from 2009-2012 and Chairman of the Economic Sustainability Committee from 2010-2012 and also served on the following Liberty Grove committees: Finance Committee from 2009 – 2012 and 2017-2018, Health Safety and Welfare Committee from 2009-2011, Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Board from 2009-2012, Sister Bay Utilities Committee from 2017-2018, Liberty Grove Utilities District #1 from 2017-2018, Ellison Bay Harbor Sub Committee from 2011-2012 and Rowleys Bay Sub Committee from 2011-2012. He also volunteered time to the Sister Bay Lions Club since 2008, facilitated the bike program for the seasonal workers in Door County and sang in the choir of the Stella Maris Parish in Sister Bay. The highlight of Bob’s time in Door County was hosting Cowboy Church in his barn for seven years in which Pastor Lloyd Michalsen would preach and musicians and singers from Door County and across the country would share their talents with the 70 or more visitors attending the Sunday services during the tourist season.
He is survived by children, Ann (Tom) Gaeta of Whitefish Bay, WI and Susan (Patrick) Noble of Whitefish Bay, WI and six grandchildren; Michael (Maddie) Gaeta, Matt Gaeta, Andrew Gaeta, Elizabeth Gaeta, Harrison Noble and Robert Noble; brother, Tom (Kaye) Tidball; cousin, Jan (Anna) Stephens and other cousins.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara (Jun) Tidball and his parents Nial and Elaine (Linquist) Tidball.
“Thank you to Village Pointe Commons in Grafton, WI for the wonderful care and assistance that the staff provided over the past five years and a special thank you to Legacy Hospice for their loving care in recent weeks.”
A memorial service is being planned for the Spring and a date will be provided.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the St. Jude Childrens' Research Hospital, https://www.stjude.org or Objective Veterans' Smile in Madison, WI, https://www.objectiveveterans-smile.org.
Casperson Funeral Home in Sister Bay, WI is assisting the Tidball family with arrangements. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Bob may be shared with his family through his tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
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