Friday, January 29, 2016

Obituary: Robert Earl Wetsel

My Uncle Bob passed away 3 years ago today and I find it fitting to begin my obituary series with him.

Robert (Bob) Earl Wetsel, 80, passed away on Jan. 29, 2013, peacefully at RMH surrounded by family after a monthlong illness. Born in Harrisonburg, Va., on Oct. 21, 1932, he was the son of Earl Hicks and Edna Thomas Wetsel (deceased).

Bob is survived by his loving wife, Carolyn Anne Huffman Wetsel, whom he married on June 10, 1955, and their four children, Nanette Wetsel Sharpes, and husband, Kelly R. Sharpes, Melinda Wetsel Beam and husband, Daniel M. Beam, Brad N. Wetsel and wife, Kimberley Sue Wetsel, and Marci Wetsel Miller and husband, Carl W. Miller, of Richmond. Bob is also survived by 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Bob was very devoted to family and especially fond of all of his grandchildren. They loved him dearly and called him “Papaw.” His grandchildren are Krystal Sharpes Muterspaugh and husband, Matt, Jordan Kelly Sharpes and wife, Tara, Dustin (Dusty) Scott Sharpes and wife, Kirsten, Sydney Elizabeth Beam, Makenzie Wetsel Beam, Ryan Paige Wetsel, Evan Allman Wetsel, Trenton Robert Wetsel, Marci Amber Hilbert, Lauren Emily Hill, Hallie Paige Miller and Rory Leigh Miller. His great-grandchildren are Madison Carrie Muterspaugh and Peter Everett Sharpes.

Besides family, church and friends were an important part of his life and he never met a stranger or an individual that he did not call, “friend.” Often, he was on the phone conversing or arranging for class reunions or offering to lend a hand or his help. His high school reunions were highlights in his life and he served on the committees planning these “get-togethers.” His classmates at HHS were a close-knit group who enjoyed talking of school days and many have been lifelong friends.

Bob’s only brother, Nelson T. Wetsel, is deceased; Bob’s sister-in-law, Helen M. Wetsel, survives. Bob has other living extended family.

He was a graduate of Harrisonburg High School, 1951, and graduated Virginia Tech in June 1955, with a degree in agronomy. Bob served two years in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1957.

Bob was an active member of his community and believed in serving others.

He worked at Wetsel Seed Co., his family business, for 46 years before retiring in 2001, where he was the senior vice president.

While at Wetsel’s, Bob served as president of Virginia Seedsmen’s Association; president of the Atlantic Seedsmen’s Association; and president of Southern Seedsmen’s Association.

Bob was a member of First Presbyterian Church, Court Square, Harrisonburg, for many years.

Volunteering was important to Bob and he led by example. When the local fire companies were primarily volunteer-based, he served as captain for two years for Fire Company No. 1 and afterward he was a life member. Also, Bob was a life member of Harrisonburg Rescue Squad, having been president for two years.

Bob served in other capacities, including on the local library board for three years, as a 35-year member of the Rotary Club of Harrisonburg, and he served on the local Salvation Army Advisory Board for over 30 years, including as chairman for three years. He served on the Youth for Christ Board and Young Life Board, having been chairman of both boards. In addition, he was instrumental in bringing the Young Life Organization to this community.

Memorial contributions may be made to: Salvation Army, Young Life and First Presbyterian Church.

A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 17 N. Court Square, Harrisonburg, Va., on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, at 1 p.m. Visitation will be held on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, at Kyger Funeral Homes, 3173 Spotswood Trail, Harrisonburg, Va., from 4 to 7 p.m.

Burial is private and the casket will be closed.

“Precious in the Sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints” Psalms 116:15.

The Wetsel family would like to thank Bob’s many caring friends and health care providers for their thoughtful words of encouragement and prayers. God Bless.

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