Robert J. Lieb “Bob”
Age 82 years and 2 months, formerly of Kenyon, MN and Eden Prairie, MN, died peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. He is survived by daughter Tracy (Scott) Goodwin of Minnetonka, MN and son Steve (Dawn) Lieb of Cologne, MN. Also grieving are his six young-adult grandchildren; Kate Goodwin, Julia Goodwin, Anton Lieb, Colin Lieb, Anna Lieb, and Isabel Lieb.
Bob was born in Hanska MN to John and Estella Lieb on February 12, 1936. The 5th of 6 siblings, Bob is predeceased by both parents and his sisters and older brother. He is survived by his younger brother, Tom (Helen) Lieb.
Bob grew up in Kenyon, MN, enjoying an impressive high school career, full of athletic success and developing leadership skills and a quest for exceptionalism. Along the way, he found time to woo the homecoming queen and band majorette, Marilyn Hope. He was a skilled baseball player, garnering interest letters from both the Yankees and Royals, but it was football he truly loved, accepting a full-scholarship to the U of MN in 1954. Unfortunately, his promising start there was cut short by a severe concussion after which he enlisted in the US Army.
Following enlistment, he and Marilyn married, starting their future together in DeRidder, LA. After his service ended, they moved to Richfield, MN and began their family with the birth of daughter Tracy in 1961. The young family suffered a blow with the death of son Douglas only a day after his birth in 1964. Refusing to be discouraged by this tragedy, Bob and Marilyn moved to Eden Prairie, MN and adopted son Steven in 1967. The young family flourished through involvement in the community, neighborhood, and Lion’s club. Bob played a formative role on the city council in 1969 - an administration whose foresighted plans laid the groundwork for many of the features enjoyed by residents now 50 years later.
Bob was a career salesman, beginning in high school with a part-time job at the men’s clothing store in Kenyon. Daytons department store followed, but soon moving on to act as an independent furniture rep for high-end companies such as Rembrandt Lamps, Trend Clocks, and Sligh casegoods. This independent role offered him flexibility, and in the early 70s the family said a sad farewell to great friends, moving back to Kenyon where they could raise their children in their home town while being closer to now-elderly parents.
This flexibility also allowed Bob to pursue a passion for community service in the Lions Club that would become a characteristic aspect of his life. He was deeply involved in the local Lions Club, eventually reaching the post of Governor for District 5M5. Bob then continued working extremely hard at the national and international level, being involved in conventions and programs worldwide. He was extremely proud of Lions and the programs and clubs that flourished on his watch.
He carried this work ethic and abiding love for Lions International when the family moved back to Eden Prairie in 1990, joining the EP club and as a Past District Governor mentoring the club and its members to attain their own positions of leadership in the organization, always guided by his tireless goal of service. He was instrumental in forming a junior EP Lions club (LEO) and strongly supported the inclusion of women as Lions (and not the subsidiary organization Lioness). His support for Eden Prairie wasn’t limited to Lions, as he was also part of the group that began the Eden Prairie Foundation - another service organization going strong in Eden Prairie.
Finally, the pinnacle of his involvement with Lions was the securing of the 1993 International Convention Bid for Minneapolis. This was a huge event, years in the making, in which tens of thousands of Lions from all over the world arrived in the Twin Cities for conclaves, meetings, expositions, shows, and parades. The smoothness of the event and the comprehensive planning have been used as a model for subsequent conventions. The success of this major event earned him Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Bureau’s first ever “Coppertop Award” for bringing the convention and its related spending to the Twin Cities. He would later enjoy playing a chairman emeritus role for the return of the convention in 2009.
Eventually, after both Tracy and Steven had moved out and begun families of their own, Bob and Marilyn found a quiet happiness together when they moved to Hopkins in 1994. Close enough for enjoying the grandchildren and family gatherings, but independent enough to enjoy some adult friendships too.
He continued his sales career as a sort of semi-retirement, selling real estate in Chaska and working part-time in the Men’s Department at JCPenney. It was in this final position hearkening back to his high-school part-time job, he was somewhat surprised to find how fulfilling this role could be. Helping men look their best: “Standing Tall” and “Looking Sharp” became his watchwords, and he never let a young man go away uninformed, providing tie-tying instructions on the back of his business card, the characteristic “Bob Knot”.
But an easy, effortless retirement were not in the cards. In 1998, Bob was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma cancer with a small likelihood of long term survival. Never one to quit, Bob volunteered for what would be one of the U of MNs early stem-cell transplant efforts. This was a grueling endeavor in which he lost all his hair and more than 100 lbs. The results were nothing short of a miracle, resulting in the restoration of a full head of dark hair and the clinical report of being ‘completely cured’ by 2004.
Bob and Marilyn celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in January of 2007. Unfortunately, Marilyn’s cancer diagnosis came suddenly afterward, and the disease progressed brutally quickly. She passed away, the love of Bob’s life, in May 2007.
Life without Marilyn was difficult, but Bob was never one to succumb to sadness or regret. He continued working at JCPenney until Thanksgiving 2008 when a massive stroke left him near death and paralyzed on his left side. Doctors were astonished at the continuing vitality of this man, who never accepted his care-center stay would be anything but temporary.
Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy did much to help Bob regain his independence, but his physical needs required professional care which he found in the staff at Augustana Chapel View Care Center, where he lived out his remaining years. Advocating for others as the Resident Council President. Bob created and instituted a Gold Star program whereby the residents could nominate a staff member who showed exceptional concern, respect, and gentleness in the duty of their jobs.
Social outings continued as best the family could manage, including weekly breakfast at Hoagies on Main Street in Hopkins, annual State Fair visit, Sunday night dinners at Chapel View, and attendance at Graduations, Award Banquets, Concerts, and Shows in support of the grandkids.
The family is extremely grateful to everyone at Chapel View who provided Bob with a true sense of home in his later years. Everyone from the receptionists who allowed Bob to position himself at the front door as unofficial greeter, Kitchen staff who catered to his every whim, dear Chaplain Nancy who kept feeding his faith after physical nutrition failed, and of course the nurses and aides who handled Dad’s numerous medical needs.
Bob also leaves behind a large extended family of sister’s in-law, Barbara Hope, and Doris Hope Beyer-Meyer plus dozens of Nieces, Nephews, and friends.
A memorial service for Bob will be held on Friday, April 27, 11am at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 715 Minnetonka Mills Road, Hopkins, MN. Visitation one hour prior to the service at the church.