WARREN - Robert W. Theis, 82, who began his career as a general laborer at a local steel mill and retired among its top executives, died Friday afternoon, July 26, 2013, at Trumbull Memorial Hospital following a long illness.
He was a big man with a big personality and a booming voice. He loved to laugh and inspire others to laugh with him.
Among his favorite family stories: After having three kids in three years, Bob said he feared coming home and asking his wife, Mary Lou, "What's new?"
"Of all the hats he wore, husband and family patriarch were clearly his favorites," said Terri Bury, the oldest of the five Theis children. "A few years after our mom died, all of his kids, grandkids and great-grandkids posed for an impromptu family photo. Dad looked around and said, 'Can you believe your mother and I made this mess?'''
Born Jan. 13, 1931, to Peter and Mary Kadlic Theis, Bob attended Bowling Green State University before being drafted into the U.S. Army, where he treated soldiers returning from the Korean War.
After the war, he headed home to Warren and followed his father through the front gate of Republic Steel Corp. His son and grandson would continue the family's steelmaking tradition.
"Dad's days as a steelmaker spanned four decades, and he saw the industry during its heyday and its decline," said his son, Bob. "Even during the dark days, he worked to make the industry better, and he instilled a strong work ethic in each of his kids."
In 1987, he retired as a vice president of Republic Steel's Warren Works, then took a senior executive position at McLouth Steel in Grosse Ile, Mich. Ten years later, Bob retired once more, only to launch a consulting firm that helped struggling steelmakers better compete by improving quality and efficiency.
Bob was voted best athlete by his graduating class at St. Mary's High School, where he played three sports and earned all-state honors as a quarterback in football.
An avid sports fan, Bob closely followed the Cleveland Browns and Indians, seldom missed a home football game of John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, and considered a photo signed by Ohio State's 2002 National Championship team among his most prized possessions.
Bob is survived by five children, Terri (Brian) Bury of McKinney, Texas, Carol (Steve Rolfe) Theis of Cortland, Sandy Theis of Columbus, Robert D. (Monica) Theis of Mineral Ridge and Melissa (David) Whitney of Westerville; brother, Richard of Xenia; sister, Annamae T. Novak of North Canton; grandchildren, Patrick Rolfe of Pickerington, Kristen Rolfe of Columbus, Thomas Bury of McKinney, Texas, Zachary Hust of Penn Valley, Calif., Abigail Hust of Columbus, Allyson and Ryan Theis of Mineral Ridge, and Tyler, Jack, Julia and Rex Whitney of Westerville; and great-grandchildren, Tessa Rolfe of Pickerington and Cole and Cade Bury of Santee, Calif.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Lou Reinhard Theis; his parents; brother, Ray of Howland; and grandson, Marine Sgt. Brandon Bury of Kingwood, Texas.
Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Roberts-Clark Chapel of Lane Family Funeral Homes, 180 Garfield Drive Warren, OH 44483. The Rev. Carl Kish will celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Roberts Catholic Church in Cortland. Friends may call one hour prior to the start of the Mass at the church.
Entombment will take place with his wife at All Souls Cemetery, where military honors will be provided by the Trumbull County Veterans Honor Guard.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The Kingwood Fallen Heroes, checks care of Scott Mitchell, 4277 Mountain Peak Way, Kingwood, TX 77345; or to cancer research at The Jimmy V Foundation, 106 Towerview Court, Cary, NC 27513, www.JimmyV.org.
Friends may view this obituary and send condolences at www.lanefuneralhomes.com.