Remembering the 50 years we traveled all over the United States fishing, camping, backpacking, touring breweries, and sampling beer. Along the way, when you mix being outdoors and drinking beer, crazy shit happens. This series will celebrate his life and allow me to share stories from our travels.
I have always been very proud to be named Robert John, III and named my first son Robert John, IV. He named his first son Robert John, V and we call him Junior or JJ for John Junior. We all loved and respected the man who gave us our name.
My Dad was my best friend. What he taught me – and showed me through the example of his life – has made me the man that I am today: husband, father, grandfather, business owner, and coach.
HE WAS A HARD WORKER
he lied about his age, so he could throw The Eagle newspaper, which he did for 10 years. Dad’s family was very poor, so he worked various jobs to pay for his school tuition. He sacked groceries. He was a cook at Wong’s Chinese Restaurant. He even cut glass for Sam the Window Man.
After graduating from Kapaun Catholic High School in 1963, dad hitchhiked to San Antonio Texas to attend St. Mary’s University. He wanted to become a doctor and cure Leukemia because it took his sister Bevy at age four.
for Cessna Aircraft as a Tool and Die machinist and attending college. It took him 8 ½ years to receive his Business Degree in Finance from Wichita State University. You would think he would want to walk across the stage at graduation, but he was too busy to stop for that. After college, He worked in Finance for Stephen’s Dairy and for Jack DeBoer.
In 1971 he opened Budget Tapes & Records which he later changed the named to Argus tapes and records and had several locations in the Wichita market along with stores in Lawrence, KS, Stillwater, OK, and even Jacksonville, FL.
together they added The Menagerie and sold paraphernalia, tapestries, and water beds. They added Argus Auto Sound Center and Rolling Thunder to install custom in-home and car stereo systems. In the 1980s dad started truck farming and had his family learning how to grow fruits and vegetables to sell. The first year we hand-planted 10,000 broccoli and cauliflower plants. Dad also sold satellite dish systems before cable TV was a thing. We were repositioning the dish to watch BBC and even Russian television shows. After my sister and I moved out, Dad started selling computer systems for Triad Corporation into NAPA auto parts stores in Kansas and Missouri. Dad loved taking the roads less traveled and he knew every NAPA auto parts store was in every small town and highway in the State.
Triad asked dad to relocate and cover the Missouri market. While they lived in St. Louis for 6 years, he attended the Aquinas Institute of Theology because he wanted to become a deacon while mom received her Degree in Music from the prestigious Webster University. Kansas eventually called them back home, so he never finished the program.
as a business consultant and later became a broker in the liquor and beer industry. He even worked with me at the liquor store training our sales staff.
My cousin Brian Miller summed up who my dad truly was:
“I often think about Bob and the days we worked at the old liquor store together. One thing he taught me was to always genuinely care about people and treat those in front of you like they are the only person in the room.”
HE LOVED HIS FAMILY AND COMMUNITY
In his senior year of high school, Dad fell in love with a beautiful “Hotty Blonde” named Carolyn Trezise. Being away in Texas at St. Mary’s only lasted a year – he had to come home and be with her. They were engaged on October 24, 1964, and they married on February 27, 1965. They were married for over 56 years. This marriage produced two children – my sister, Robyn, and me. We did almost everything together as a family – and we always knew that our family was the most important thing in the world to him. He was always there for us – any time of the day or night – from childhood through to our own adult lives.
I had to make a list of Dad’s activities and accomplishments for his obituary. This list was impressive. Dad was a member of the Conway Springs Knights of Columbus, Zoning Committee, Chamber of Commerce and Fall Fest. He was a member of the Wichita Independent Business Association. He was especially active when it came to his Catholic faith and the Church. He was involved in the Pilate, Serra Club, RCIA and PSR, Evenings for the Engaged, Crisario, the Totus Tuus youth program, Full Gospel Business Men’s Association and Rex. He even made time to invite friends into their home for weekly bible study.
Dad told Father John Miller that even though he regularly wore a business suit, he wanted to be buried in his overalls and 2 button long sleeve white t-shirt. Why? Because he didn’t want to be perceived as a spiritual zealot but as a humble man of God!
HE LOVED NATURE
and loved fishing and being outdoors. He loved spending summers in Hays, KS on Grandpa Joe’s farm and loved animals, especially reptiles. When Dad was but a boy, the family was under a tornado watch and his mother was ushering the family down to the basement. But not dad—she would not allow him to bring his pet snake, so he ran outside and hid in a tree.
and it was his heaven on earth. The first time he went to Dubois and backpacked he discovered why he landed in this town. After being in the mountains for almost 30 days he drove back to town to get a hotel and clean up. The Cowboy Café recommended that he go to the steak house restaurant for dinner that evening. He engaged in conversation with the waitress. As their conversation continued, they discovered that she was from Wichita. That they grew up on the same street. The waitress recalled her best friend Beverly had died of leukemia at a young age. Beverly, or Bevy as dad called his sister, was the friend she was talking about. Wow! I get goosebumps every time I tell this story. They did the math and discovered it would have been Bev’s 21st birthday the night they met. Dad feels that is why he was drawn to Dubois.
Stella the raccoon, Homer the boa constrictor, a ferret, a beautiful scarlet macaw parrot called Pepe, parakeets, hundreds of ornate box turtles, lizards, exotic fish, horses, sheep, cattle, and several different species of chickens. We even raised mice to feed Homer.
Homer the boa constrictor was always getting out of his cage and would roam throughout the house. Mom found Homer – one night at about 2 am when she had gotten up to use the bathroom. We all heard that mom found Homer! She reached up to turn on her lamp and discovered that Homer had wrapped himself around the bulb to warm himself.
that managed to crawl out the upstairs window. A neighbor called dad to inform him that they saw an iguana crawling down 6th street and they knew it had to belong to him.
Dad also had a pet rooster named Buddy. Buddy would follow dad around the yard as he tended to his garden. I wondered at times if dad had some Doctor Doolittle in his DNA.
HE HAD A BRILLIANT MIND
in St. Louis loved having Dad in the program because he gave the students a different perspective. Translation: he challenged their every belief and conviction. I mean he challenged every fiber of their being. An example: 3 Jehovah’s Witness fellas pulled into our campsite 35 miles outside of Dubois, WY one summer. Dad had them there for the better half of three hours. Now that I think back on that day, he might have been trying to convert them to Catholicism. They couldn’t get out of the campsite fast enough!
represented the mythical God Argus who was appointed by the goddess Hera to watch the cow into which Lo (Hera’s priestess) had been transformed, but he was slain by Hermes, who is called Argeiphontes, “Slayer of Argus,” in the Homeric poems. I mention this because Argus watched over a cow. I see this as a foreshadowing of Dad’s love of owning a farm and ranch
on the Westurban Baseball Board of Directors, and why I have done so for over 28 years. He wasn’t judging me but was challenging me to see to share my purpose for doing so.
He would challenge your religious, political, or personal beliefs by saying something to spark your emotions. You either engaged him in conversation, or you’d walked away from the conversation shaking your head. He liked to make people think – about their purpose, their passions, and their beliefs.