MISSOULA — Robert Marineau Small passed away peacefully on Feb. 3, 2019, surrounded by his family. He was born in Missoula on April 18, 1934, to Ray and Blanche Small, he was the ninth of ten children. Bob attended St. Francis and St. Anthony grade school, graduating from Missoula County High School in 1952. He excelled in football and basketball in his high school days, all while working at the family business, the Coca-Cola Company.
After high school, Bob’s parents wanted him to concentrate on grades instead of football and sent him to Seattle University. After a year at Seattle, he came home to attend the University of Montana and was invited to walk on to the Grizzly football team. Bob played three years as a Grizzly lineman. While in college, Bob joined ROTC. After graduation he served at Fort Lewis, Washington.
In 1957, Bob married Bea Slusser, they had three children; Becky, Bryan and Brent. In 1970 he married Mary Pat Jameson. Mary Pat had two children to add to the family: Dia and Jay. Together, Bob & Mary Pat had a daughter, Amy.
Bob was never afraid to work hard. His career began with loading trucks for Coca-Cola, working his way to owning the plant with his brother, Mike. In 1978, he sold the Coca-Cola plant and began looking for another business opportunity, which he found with Subaru. He went into partnership with Larry Larson and together they ran Four-Seasons Subaru for 30 years. Bob also went into business with his son Brent Small, working with real estate investment and management. His business knowledge lead him into many diverse ventures, one of which was Thompson Dental. Through this association he landed on the cover of Forbes magazine.
Bob was a founding member and actively involved in the Sentinel Kiwanis Club for 55 years. Sentinel Kiwanis recognized Bob’s contributions through an award named after him: The Bob Small Award. This award is given annually in recognition for dedication to changing the world, one child and community at a time.
The Missoula Country Club was a second home because of Bob’s passion for golf, his friends, and the pursuit of the perfect swing. He will always be remembered for his trick putts and high dollar quarter bets on the course.
In summertime you’d find Bob, Mary Pat, kids, and dogs in the joyous chaos at Big Sky lake. Dad pulled countless kids waterskiing and tubing. He “patiently” untangled many fishing lines. Dad’s rule, “you catch it, you clean it!”
Family came first, but the Grizzlies were a close second. In fall and winter, Bob didn’t miss a Griz game and Grizzly Den. Thursday’s were his snowmobile days with his buddies. More recently Bob and Mary Pat spent the winter months visiting family and friends in the warm sun of Palm Desert.
Bob was always one for the underdog. A kind and generous heart was his. Bob enhanced the lives of others with his sense of humor. Thanks dad for teaching us about Hoop Snakes, Hairy Monsters and Evil Witch Mountain through your captivating storytelling.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, five brothers, Bill, Mike, Al, Father Joe and Pete and three sisters, Betty, Marie and Peggy. He is survived by his wife of 49 years Mary Pat; six children, Dia (Scott Hollinger), Jay, Becky (Mark Bibler), Bryan (Chelsea), Brent (Pam) and Amy; his sister Theresa; 15 grandchildren; Dane, Drew, Eric, Chelsea, Camren, Jessica, Kelsey, Jade, Jude, Madison, Seeley, Holland, Caitlin, Braelin, Keegan; four great-grandchildren, McKenzie, Sadie, Stella, Oliver and one on the way.
A Rosary will be on Monday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Church. The Celebration of Life will be on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 11 a.m. also at St. Anthony’s Church. Burial will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
The family invites you to share the many memories of Bob at a reception at the Missoula Country Club at 3 p.m. on Feb. 12.
We are so appreciative for the professional and compassionate care Bob received from Drs. Caldwell and Thomas, fifth floor nurses at St. Patrick Hospital, the nursing staff at St. Patrick Hospital's infusion center and the staff at Partners Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Sentinel Kiwanis, Grizzly Athletic Association or Partners in Home Care Hospice.