Robert Arthur Green, “Bob”, aged 93, passed away on Friday, August 16, 2019 in Webster, Texas, a Houston suburb. Born the third of five children to Clark James Green and Anna Hayes Green, March 17, 1926 in Birmingham, MI. Bob was the loving husband of 70-years to Maurine (Fitzgerald), dearest father to Karen (Ken) Sutera, Kevin (Dee Brewster), Ken (former-spouse Gail Geersens/Green), Kristopher (Barb Flores), Kyle (husband John Dames), Bruce and Shelly Falls; proud grandfather of Bryan (Amber), Heather (Ben), Sean, Courtney (Sean), Brittany, Michael, Jared, Shane and Connor, plus seven great-grandchildren.
Bob learned to drive a truck at age 12 so that he and his brother Jim (15) could deliver newspapers in a geographically wide rural area of Oakland County. Their earnings added to the family income during the remnants of the Great Depression. Driving at such an early age, Bob had his Michigan driver’s license before he was 15. This came in handy in 1946 when he secured his first professional job after his Army service following World War II. Bob dropped out of Pontiac Central High School in 1944 to join the Army during WWII. This was at the end of his junior year and he had recently turned 18. Bob explained to his children that he joined “hoping that a married man with children would not be drafted,” which was common at the time.
Bob raised his hand during basic training when the recruits were asked if anyone knew how to snow ski? The 10th Mountain Division Skiing Troops was an elite winter-warfare Army unit founded in 1943 for fighting on snow skis in the European mountains. The Army had a mindset that only recruits raised in the Northeast States or amongst the Rocky Mountains would know how to snow ski, certainly not a skinny kid from Michigan. Bob’s parents owned a cottage in northern lower Michigan and he grew up skiing Michigan’s snow hills. To prove himself, Bob had to ski down nearby sand dunes, securing him as part of the 10th Mountain Division. Everything the 10th had, wore, carried and skied with was white to avoid detection against the snow by the enemy. Bob became snow blind at one point with recovery confined to a completely dark room for approximately one-week.
Bob barely survived an ambush attack during a battle one-month after turning 19. He spent a night alone freezing and dying in the snow of the Italian Alps, too injured to move out with his troop. A U.S. medic found him the next day and carried his almost lifeless body down the side of the mountain to a U.S. triage unit. Bob earned a Purple Heart for his injuries but never learned the name of the medic in order to thank him for saving his life.
Bob returned to Michigan following the war and landed a job as a truck driver for the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors Corporation. It was while driving trucks that Bob met Maurine Ann Fitzgerald – a dark haired beauty who worked in the Pontiac Motor dispatch department. They were married on May 28, 1949 and resided in Pontiac. In 1958, they moved 11-miles north to Lake Orion where they lived for over 42 years and raised their family.
Bob and Maurine were members of Saint Joseph Catholic Church for 42-years and Bob was a founding member of the Lake Orion Knights of Columbus, Father Thomas R. Carey Council #4764. He also served as the Chapter’s Grand Knight. Bob retired from the Pontiac Motor Division dispatch department after 34-years with the company. His responsibilities evolved through the years; before retirement, he investigated and solved transit problems of vehicles damaged on train cars and car carriers.
Following his retirement, Bob and Maurine enjoyed a number of trips to Europe and Great Britain as well as across most of the United States. They eventually settled on Galveston Island, Texas to be near their daughter Karen and her family.
Like many World War II veterans, Bob never finished high school. One life event or another kept interrupting Bob’s plans to finish school and he was embarrassed he never did. Working with the Pontiac (MI) School Administration, his children took advantage of the 2001 Michigan Act 181, which grants high school diploma’s to honorably discharged WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans who didn’t complete their degree. They surprised Bob with his diploma for his 90th birthday during the June 2016 Pontiac School System board meeting. Bob, Maurine, their daughter Karen and her family participated in the ceremony via Skype, while remaining in Texas.
Bob and Maurine happily celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on May 28, 2019, less than three-months before Bob’s passing.
Bob is survived by his wife Maurine, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, their spouses, as well as one remaining sibling Patricia Conklin. He is also survived by many Green family nieces and nephews and their children, as well as Fitzgerald nieces and nephews including goddaughter Judy (Fitzgerald) Stroze, and godson and family friend David Rose. He is preceded in death by siblings Clark James Green, Margaret Wimmer, Nancy Meyer and daughter-in-law Dee Green.
A funeral mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 715 N. Lapeer Rd., Lake Orion. Visitation with the family will start at 10:00 a.m. in the church lobby preceding the funeral. A luncheon in the St. Joseph community hall will follow the funeral. Burial will be held the following day, Wednesday, September 4 at 10:30 am at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Gary Sinise Foundation www.garysinisefoundation.org or the Semper Fi Fund www.semperfifund.org. Both programs aid veterans and military families in need.