MISSOULA — Robert W. (Bob) Schottelkorb passed away on Nov. 27, 2018, at The BeeHive. He was 96. He was born on Oct. 25, 1922 (on his mother’s birthday), to William J. and Eva (Hooper) Schottelkorb, the younger of two brothers. He was a lifelong Missoulian and began his education at Paxson School. From his childhood home on Blaine Street he would walk to Paxson School picking wildflowers along the way, thus began his love of nature’s beauty. He graduated from Missoula County High School and Montana State University (now The University of Montana).
Bob enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942. He received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant and his wings in 1943. He joined the 493rd Bomb Group which became operational on D-Day in 1944. Bob flew 32 combat missions from England to France and Germany, flying B-24s and B-17s. His last mission to Hamburg, Germany was completed on his 22nd birthday. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters. During the war Bob’s older brother, 1st Lieutenant William F. Schottelkorb, a P38 fighter pilot, was shot down over North Africa on Jan. 23, 1943. His body was never recovered. Indeed, Bob and his brother Bill were part of the Greatest Generation.
Bob’s first job was delivering newspapers. Later he worked in the plumbing department of the Missoula Mercantile. Eventually he operated the Culligan Water business, starting in Hamilton for five years, and then in Missoula for 18 years. Bob owned several other businesses including a small trailer court and a motel in downtown Missoula. He was the commander of the American Legion in Hamilton and squadron commander of the Air Force Reserve in Missoula, during which he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Bob married his love, Shirley Lee, on June 25, 1948, and they celebrated 70 years of marriage. He and Shirley have three children: William R (Sue) Schottelkorb of Kalispell, Bette (Greg) Clark of Plains, and Bobbi (John) Combs of Missoula. They were blessed with six grandchildren: April Schottelkorb of Kalispell, Andy (Lucy) Schottelkorb of Cornell, Wisconsin, Missy (Matt) Hoyne of Kalispell, Amanda Combs of Arlee, Lindsay Combs of Seattle, Washington, and Elena Combs of Moscow, Idaho. They also have six great-grandchildren: Eliana and Liam, Rylee and Alia, Marian and Adeline.
Bob taught and inspired his family to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. He loved wildflowers, picking huckleberries and exploring the backroads of Montana. His love of hiking inspired many family hiking trips into the Missions, the Selway Bitterroot, and the Grand Canyon. He also did several horseback rides into the Bob Marshall. Along his many hikes he would pick up garbage and cans, long before it became a popular cause.
In his later years Bob published two books. One honoring his brother, "From Model T to P-38 Lightning, Celebrating the Life of William Frank Schottelkorb". The other, an autobiography written in collaboration with granddaughter Lindsay Combs, "The Big Three Let Me Reach 93, the Good Lord, a Guardian Angel, and Dumb Luck". Both books include detailed diaries the Schottelkorb brothers kept during WWII.
Bob was an active member of First Baptist Church (now River Valley Church). He was much loved and a proud independent man. Bob loved to visit and he loved his snacks!
Cremation is under the care of Cremation & Burial Society of the Rockies. There will be a small family service at Missoula Alliance Church on Dec. 7, 2018, and a private graveside service with military honors. If desired, the family suggests memorials can be made to the Five Valley Land Trust or Hospice of Missoula.