Robert ‘Bob’ R. Smith

Robert “Bob” R. Smith, 97, of Tomahawk, passed away Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023 surrounded by family. Bob was born June 5, 1926 in Hartland, Wis., and was the son of Claude and Aurelia (Bong) Smith. He was united in marriage on May 14, 1949 to Jeralyn “Jeri” Washburn in Hartland, Wis., and they celebrated 64 years of marriage together before her passing in 2013.

Bob was drafted by the U.S. Army during WWII at 18 years of age and reported for active duty on Aug. 23, 1944. He was sent overseas to Germany and assigned to Company C – 37th Tank Battalion as a bow gunner in a Sherman medium tank with orders to liberate a POW camp of American prisoners just behind German lines. They liberated the camp but were later captured by the Germans on March 28, 1945. Bob spent 33 days in the POW camps until he was liberated on April 29, 1945 and finally returned to the United States on June 15, 1945. Bob had three older brothers – two of which also served in WWII and made it home safely. 

While imprisoned in the camps, Bob relied heavily on this faith. He prayed and made the promise to himself that if he were to make it out alive, he would devote his life to helping others. After returning to the States, he remained in the Army until he requested dependency discharge on Feb. 28, 1946 to take care of his mother. By his returning home, Bob was able to provide financially for his mother so his sister would not have to forgo her secondary education. Bob unselfishly sacrificed without hesitation.

Bob found his calling in the banking industry knowing that his skillset would help people with their financial decisions. He attended night school to further his education and advance in his profession. After he married the love of his life, Bob and Jeri raised two children, Cheryl and Greg, in the Wauwatosa area. Their family relocated to areas that provided banking advancement and found themselves in Thiensville where Bob became Vice President of Operations and Loans at Thiensville State Bank. Bob and Jeri moved to Tomahawk in 1972 because they wanted to get away from the big city. Bob was hired in 1973 at Tomahawk Savings and Loan and was appointed President on Dec. 4, 1978. He later retired in 1986.

Bob was involved with the Salvation Army and Alzheimer’s Association and served on the Board at Sacred Heart Hospital and Wisconsin League of Financial Institutions. After Tomahawk found themselves without any day care facility, he was instrumental in starting New Beginnings Day Care. If there was a need, Bob was there to help and has done a lot for the community over the years. He has touched the lives of many individuals.

While residing in Tomahawk, Bob and Jeri enjoyed life on their 24 acres of property surrounded by nature and wildlife. He enjoyed golfing, playing cards, spending time with family, and camping. After he retired, they purchased a 5th wheel camper and enjoyed some extended trips, camping with Jack, Cheryl and Jessica, and being camp hosts at Council Grounds State Park in Merrill. Bob was also an avid baker – always wanting to bake something to share with family and friends. We will miss his goodies and spending time with him in the kitchen.

Bob was very supportive and active in his granddaughter’s activities and was always in attendance. Bob and his granddaughter, Jessica, had a special bond and she had the opportunity to be his guardian on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight on April 23, 2012. Bob had a generous heart, beautiful soul, and calming demeanor. Bob brightened the lives of those around him and made our world a better place by being a part of it.

Bob is survived by his daughter, Cheryl (Jack) Evans, Tomahawk, and son, Gregory (late Carol) Smith, Washougal, Wash.; grandchildren, Jessica (Nathan) Dahl, Edgar, and their son, Logan Robert, Jeremy (Beatriz) Smith, Cancun, Mexico, and Rebekah (Brian) Lueb, Washougal, Wash.; seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Jeri Smith, his mother, Aurelia Bong, daughters-in-law, Carol Smith and Linda Smith, three brothers, and one sister.

 Funeral service with military honors for Bob Smith took place at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023 at Grace Lutheran Church in Tomahawk, preceded by visitation at 9 a.m. Pastor Julie Sinkula officiated. A burial took place at Calvary Cemetery following the service.

Those wishing to make a donation in honor of Bob Smith may do so at Kinship of Tomahawk or the Tomahawk Food Pantry.  

Krueger-Nimsgern Funeral Home & Cremation Services assisted the family with arrangements. Online condolences for the family may be directed to

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