September 24, 2012

Col. Robert A. Wittstruck, Jr.

Col. Robert A. Wittstruck, Jr. passed away at his home at 6:00 am on September 23, 2012.  Bob was born in Lincoln on August 20,1920.  After graduating high school, he spent some time in Pontiac, Michigan before enlisting in the Army.  He was assigned to the 274thArmored Field Artillery Battalion, serving as a spotter pilot in Europe during World War II.   After the war, Bob returned to Lincoln and attended UNL.  He remained with the Army National Guard, retiring as Battalion Commander with the rank of Colonel in 1976, after 34 years of service.  He was the first helicopter pilot in the state of Nebraska and captain of the Nebraska National Guard Pistol Team.  Bob worked for the US Postal Service for 34 years, first as a letter carrier and later as the head of Collection and Delivery.  He retired in 1978.  In his retirement years, he has been well-known as “Karaoke Bob“, entertaining crowds with Frank Sinatra and other songs from the 40’s.  Bob has been singing for audiences since he was 5 years old.   Bob was a member of the American Legion, Elks, Moose Lodge, NARFE, WSI, the Lincoln Friendship Force and a life member of the NRA and National Guard Association.  Bob married Thelma Louise Marks in 1943 and to this union Bob’s two children, Gary and Marcia (Carroll) were born.  Thelma passed away in 1961.  He married Mary Lu [Betzer] in 1969.  Mary Lu passed away in 1993. 

In 2002 Bob married Barbara [West], who survives him, along with son Gary, daughter Marcia, 5 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren and a number of step-children, step-grandchildren, and step-great-grandchildren.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Sr. and Libbie [Kuiper]; brother, Kenneth and twin brother, James; a sister, Alice (Giglio); and wives, Thelma and Mary Lu.

 All services will be held at Wyuka Funeral Home and Cemetery, 3600 O St. on Thursday (9/27/12):  Family will receive friends 9-11 a.m., funeral at 11:00 a.m., officiated by Pastor Jeff Warick of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church.  Graveside service and reception will be held onsite following the funeral.

 Memorials are suggested to Tabitha‘s hospice program, or other charity of the donor’s choice.


  1. To all of Bob’s family, I am very sorry for your loss. Bob was one of a kind. I’ve known him since 1985 when he and Mary Lu went to Helsingborg, Sweden, with me (Friendship Force exchange). We had a mutual friend from Helsingborg, the late Johny Ericsson, who we welcomed to Lincoln several times. In more recent years I’ve seen him at FF events with Barb. Surely Bob must be singing in Heaven now. He had a good, long life here but I know he is missed. May you find comfort in your hearts.

  2. We were honored to take Mr. Wittstruck on the Heartland Honor Flight.
    We are very sorry for your loss.

  3. Dear Barb,
    I have been thinking about how you are doing and then sadly see Bob has passed.
    As we have all learned in our lives, it is with treasured memories we keep our loved close… always within our hearts!Let the joy you shared with Bob, help you now.
    Hoping you, Robert, Judy, Jim, Scott and Lori, and families are doing well. Sometime in the near future would be good to hear from any of you to catch up. Email me or call 402-475-3141 or 402-525-4688.
    With love and heartfelt sympathy,

  4. I have many memories of Bob dating back to the 1970s. Bob would come to the Aku Tiki Lounge every so often and sing two or three songs with the Mac Five (I was the drummer). He was always a hit! He loved to sing with or without a band or karaoke backing. He was much more than an amateur singer, he was really talented.

    Years later we traveled together with Friendship Force and on several occasions volunteered together as refreshment servers at Friendship Force events. I always looked forward to seeing Bob at events. He always had a Friendly greeting for everyone. All who knew him will miss Bob’s singing, wit, wisdom, and friendship. Rest in peace my friend – the song is ended, but the melody lingers on.

  5. I had met Bob through my father, who had also served in the NE Army Guard. Bob had always been kind to me during the few times that I had met him and with a good sense of humor. But I did not know that he was a great singer, that fact was new to me; but, I knew that his son, Gary, was a great singer. The last time that I had seen Bob was when he gave me a helicopter ride from Ashland to Lincoln, NE. Regardless, the older we get it seems that when relatives, friends and associates pass; like Bob, it doesn’t get easier to cope with the passing as the event forces all of us to consider our own mortality. But Bob was unique and he will be significantly missed by all of us! JFrank Sherman

  6. Dear Barb
    I have fond memories of Bob when he visited Paraparaumu, New Zealand with the Friendship Force in 2001. Although he was hosted by another couple we became firm friends. I think our interest in music and singing contributed to that but Bob was just one of those guys who drew people to him. He was always so warm and friendly and generous. I remember visiting Nebraska in 2004 and surprising Bob at his favourite karoke bar. Do you recall the surprise we gave him Barb?You planned it! We had a wonderful night and one I will never forget as it is my last memory of that great guy.Our deepest condolences to you and your family.
    Reg and Irene Clothier
    Friendship Force of Kapiti Coast, NZ


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