RONAN — Robert V. (Bob) Engels, 95, passed away peacefully Friday morning March 9, 2018, at his home in Ronan with his family by his side. Bob was born Aug. 16, 1922, to Henry and Rose Engels in Chicago, Illinois, where he was raised and received his primary education.
Like so many young people he left high school during the Depression years, getting any job he could find. Eventually he went to work at an airport as an apprentice airplane mechanic and then as a test driver of commercial and military trucks for the Diamond T Truck Company.
At the age of 16 he began flying in a 1929 Eagle Rock bi-plane powered by a World War I OX-5 engine. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Corps as an aircraft specialist. While in the service his first visit to Montana was as a Flying Cadet who received part of his pre-flight training at the University in Missoula and got his first military flight training at Hale Field with Johnson Flying Service.
In 1946, after his discharge from the service, Bob came to Montana and stayed with George Slack at his ranch in Polson. While there he attended Polson High School and finished his high school education in 1948. After graduation he attended the University of Montana and Modern Business College in Missoula.
During this period Bob became active politically. He became Chairman of the Missoula County Young Republicans, State Treasurer and an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1952. Bob was the alternate to then Governor Sam Ford who could not attend the convention, which gave Bob one of the Montana votes.
Bob worked for the Fuller Paint Company, Missoula Glass Works, Anaconda Company at Bonner and the Milwaukee Railroad before going to work for the U.S. Postal Service where he started as a postal clerk and then steno-clerk in Missoula.
From 1963 to 1971 he made his home in Hamilton, Montana, commuting to Missoula each day. After being a bachelor for 48 years he met Leoba Kaphammer while they both sang in the Bitterroot Valley Chorus. In 1971 they were married and made their home on the Hamilton Heights Road north of Hamilton until their move to Ronan.
Bob was active in a wide scope of activities. He served as Chairman of the Ravalli County Red Cross, on the Northwest Area Wide Health Planning Council, member of Elks, member of the International Platform Association, Lifetime Member of the Antique Airplane Association and OX-5 Aviation Pioneers, and member of Montana Pioneer and Classic Auto Club (Ronan/Polson Spark and Throttle). Bob has been a member of the American Legion for 69 years and the Masonic Lodge for 68 years, most recently the Mission Valley Masonic Lodge No. 79. He was also a member of Bagdad Shrine, York Rite, and Western Montana Shrine Club. Bob received recognition in Who’s Who in the West.
In 1974, Bob was selected to serve as Postmaster of Corvallis. In 1975 he was appointed Postmaster at Ronan, where he served until his retirement in 1987 after 31 years of Government service. During his time as Postmaster he served as State President of the National League of Postmasters and as a member of the National Association of Postmasters. In his postal career he received numerous awards. Bob was selected as one of the original postal managers nationwide who helped implement the nine digit Zip Code concept of addressing mail.
Bob was a historian of pre-WWII biplanes, of which he used to make scaled detailed models. Some of the models have been on display at the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula.
After his retirement, Bob and his wife did a considerable amount of traveling both in and out of the country, enjoying the tours and parades with their antique cars, and pursuit of other hobbies. Both were members of the Mission Valley Senior Center. Bob served as the president of the Lake County Council on Aging and was a board member of the Area VI Council on Aging.
Bob was preceded in passing by his mother and father, and his wife, Leoba, after 42 years of marriage.
Bob is survived by one brother, Henry Engels of North Hollywood; and by his step children: Robert Kaphammer (Linda) of Loveland, Colorado; Susan Kaphammer of Yakima, Washington; Linda Beale, of Federal Way, Washington; Jim Kaphammer (Donna) of Columbia Falls; Karl Kaphammer (Ellen) of Ronan; and Patty Dellwo (Dennis) of Polson. Step grandchildren include: Jonathan Kaphammer of Belgrade; Sean Dellwo (Brynn) of Belgrade; Patrick Dellwo of Polson; Melissa Hooley (Brad) of Bigfork; Joshua Myers of Yakima, Washington; Zachary Myers of Yakima, Washington; Tabitha Beale of Federal Way, Washington; Kip Courville (Ursula) of Dixon; Liz Courville of Ronan; and Cal Courville (Sarah) of Dixon.
Bob’s greatest love was for his family and being an OX-5 Aviation Pioneer.
Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday, March 13, at 10 a.m. at Shrider — Thompson Funeral Home in Ronan with visitation one hour prior. Burial will be at 2 p.m. at Riverview Cemetery in Hamilton with full military honors. Memories and condolences may be sent to the family at shriderthompson.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Shrider — Thompson Funeral Home.