Robert Anthony Masnado (“Bob” or “Mr. Bob” to many), 89, of Agate Harbor, Michigan headed up the Resolute Trail on the Keweenaw Peninsula one last time on October 11, 2020. He didn’t stop till he arrived at the gates of heaven to be greeted by the loving arms of Jesus Christ and family and friends who were already there. Bob was born on February 12, 1931 in Laurium, Michigan – an hour before his identical twin brother Don – to proud parents Benjamin and Lena (DellAcqua).
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Bob married Mary K. Carlton on June 29, 1957 after a courtship started when she gave him flirting smiles while he was pumping gas at Doc Centanino’s Standard Oil Station. Dances at the Sportsman’s Bar in galoshes and at the Michigan Tech University Snowball led to many more dances over the next 63+ years.
Bob graduated from Calumet High School in 1949 and Michigan Technological University (Class of 1953 in Forestry & Class of 1956 in Engineering Administration. He proudly served in the U.S. Army during the Allied Occupation of Germany as a forward observer attached to the 816th Heavy Artillery Battalion. Following college, Bob began his profession in the paper-making industry holding many positions with the United States Gypsum Corporation, including, Paper Mill Superintendent, Paper Mill Operations Manager, Quality Manager and Paper Buyer. His career allowed him and Mary K. to take their family on a wonderful, formative journey to many places, including New York, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Missouri. Always true to their Keweenaw roots, they packed up the station wagon for the annual trek to their home, their gift … the Copper Country. Upon retirement, he pointed the compass north for good and built his and Mary K.’s dream home on the shores of Lake Superior at Agate Harbor.
In retirement, Bob served as a firefighter on the Eagle Harbor Township Volunteer Fire Department. He was very proud of his efforts to design the accessible public toilets for the Eagle Harbor Township Hall as he knew that everyone needs a good place to go! He was a member of the Christopher Columbus Society and a devout man of faith who served mass for the Keweenaw Catholic Missions under the counsel of his special friend, Fr. Abraham Mupparthara.
Music ran deep in the souls of Bob & his brother Don – a gift inherited from their father. He played tenor banjo, tenor guitar, and mandolin in numerous musical groups over the years. Most recently, he spent many a night playing endless polkas to dancers throughout the Keweenaw with his friend George Butala. In addition, Dad set the steady rhythm with his tenor banjo for the Copper Country Swing Band and the Harborites. His most treasured musical moments were when he was playing with his Dad and Don, usually on a front porch or a family living room. Like his father before him, Bob shared his gift of music with his children and grandchildren and always smiled the brightest when the family gathered and played songs of many generations – old and new.
Bob grew up exploring the woods from a very young age and shared his love of nature with his family. He made sure his children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews always treasured the bear sightings, respected the red-tail hawks, learned the difference between a crane and a heron, and fed the hummingbirds, chickadees, ducks, Canada geese and the gulls at Agate and beyond. He taught his kids to tap the maple trees, fell only the necessary trees when clearing land for a building project (and do so safely), taste the yellow birch, identify the many different conifers by their needles and cones, build tag alder whistles, and harvest the sugarplums, blueberries, and thimbleberries. He also loved stream fishing for the elusive trout and took many trips into the deep bush with his family – laden with a heavy tent and his trusted Silva Ranger compass.
Bob’s mother-in-law once told Mary K. “I am so glad you married Bob because you have all the pep and he has all the common sense.” Bob was a great provider for his family working in partnership with Mary K. to raise their children with values and respect for others. He taught his children to be recyclers before recycling was in vogue and he could plan, draw, fix, build and Gerry-rig anything – one of the original MacGyver’s.
Bob had a large extended family and he was loved by his in-laws, cousins and good friends with whom he spent time building, plumbing and wiring his beloved home, eating kippered snacks on soda crackers, drinking grappa or a cold beer, fishing, flying airplanes, making sausage and putting out fires. Many of his in-laws, nieces & nephews from the Carlton and Masnado clan can recall sausage making parties, taking fishing trips where they got lost (but had fun doing so), listening to stories about the boyhood antics of the twins, or singing and dancing to a banjo jam session of a polka or old-time standard.
Bob is survived by his wife of 63+ years Mary K. (Carlton), his four children, Nancy (Timothy) Bloch, Robert (Therese) Masnado, Anthony (Shellee) Masnado, Ann (Richard) Masnado-Smith, and his twin brother and best friend Donald S. Masnado. Bob is also survived by seven grandchildren, Benjamin (Jennifer) Masnado, Sarah Masnado, Anna Bloch, Catherine Bloch, Elizabeth Bloch, Lydia Masnado, and Cayman Masnado-Smith, and one great-grandchild Benjamin Theodore Masnado. He was preceded in death by his parents Benjamin & Lena Masnado (DellAcqua), his Aunt Josephine DellAcqua who became “Mom” to the twins after his mother passed, and his dear niece Susan Masnado Masterson.
Private funeral arrangements are pending. A celebration of life will be held in the Keweenaw at a later time when the COVID-19 Pandemic allows it to be held safely.
The Masnado family would like to extend our sincere love and gratitude to Linda Smith (Chopp), Carol Carlton, and Dave Law who provided loving care and deep friendship to Bob and Mary K. in their time together at Agate. In addition, our sincere thanks and respect extends to all of the staff at Gardenview Assisted Living in Calumet, MI, Oak Park Place Assisted Living in Madison, WI, and the incredible staff of Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care in Madison, WI. Collectively, the efforts of all of these wonderful people helped Dad lead a dignified life that was challenged by Parkinson’s Disease.
“The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band.”
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob’s name to either the Eagle Harbor Township Volunteer Fire Department, 321 Center Street, Eagle Harbor, MI 49950 or Agrace Hospice & Palliative Care, 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Fitchburg, WI 53711. Condolences can be sent to Mary K. & Family c/o 5013 Twin Oaks Drive, Madison, WI 53714.
Online condolences for the family may be left at www.ericksoncrowleypeterson.com
The Erickson Crowley Peterson Funeral Home in Calumet is assisting the family with the arrangements.