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IN MEMORIAM: Robert Moffett

Robert W. Moffett was born Jan. 11, 1935, on the family farm 4.5 miles southeast of Peabody, Kansas. He was the son of Joseph Orr and Myrtle (Mathiot) Moffett. He was raised on the traditional family farm where he cared for chickens, cattle, and horses.

He grew up in the Peabody community and started driving tractors at the age of 8. He would walk or be taken to the one-room school on horseback when it was too muddy to drive. He was on the local threshing crew by the age of 12. He attended local schools, graduating from Peabody High School in 1953. He was quarterback of the football team, and was on the track and basketball teams. He was a charter member of the Future Farmers of America and served as an officer.

He grew up loving being a farmer. Since his father was 50 when Bob was born, he took on much of the family farming responsibilities. It was only because of his parents’ insistence that he went to college. He attended the University of Wichita, starting out on a track scholarship. He then decided it was easier to “use his brain” and obtained academic scholarships. While working on his undergraduate degree, he accepted an internship at Boeing. He completed his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a minor in mathematics in 1959. He was a member of Phi Upsilon Sigma fraternity, vice president of the American Society of Tool Engineers, and the Parliamentarian of the Engineering Council.

On Oct. 29, 1960, he was united in marriage to Arleen Koehn at Moundridge. They made their home on his grandparents’ farmstead southeast of Peabody, where together they farmed. He often would randomly bring Arleen flowers or gifts for occasions such as Secretary’s Day or “because it is Wednesday.” They are members of the Peabody United Methodist Church.

Throughout their marriage, he would often have to leave for extended business trips as a part of his work as a stress engineer at Boeing Military Aircraft in Wichita. He was a part of the crew investigating military crash sites around the world, including Alaska, Maryland, Chicago, Vietnam, Guam, and Spain. He became a manager supervising an extended team and worked at Boeing for 35 years.

His love of farming was shared with his family. Mitch and Janice grew up in the fields as they raised wheat, maize/milo, and hay.

Bob took particular pride in his workshop. Everything that came to the farm became “Moffettized” — beefed up so it could take the stress of working his way. He spent the winter months sorting through the treasures he found at farm auctions. He would clean and sort every part. He had a place for everything, and everything would be in its place. He was always on the lookout for antique tractors. His first love was always John Deere tractors, but he was also on the hunt for Internationals similar to those he used on the farm growing up. He completed the collection he envisioned on his bucket list.

Dogs were Bob’s constant companions. From a small boy, he had many different sizes and breeds — basset hounds, black labs, St. Bernards, collies, beagles and mutts. Most were adopted from the local humane society. They always had their own spots in the workshop and in the tractors and combines.

Bob had a great sense of humor, and it would often be expressed in the gifts he gave Arleen. One Christmas, it would be five different coolers, all wrapped differently. Another, it was a variety of radios for use around the farm that Janice would have to wrap according to instructions, so they could be unwrapped in the right order. Some presents included a stray brick or piece of scrap metal to disguise the true gift inside.

Fishing was as an active sport and involved at least 10 cane poles around the pond. He would work on preparing and repairing poles while sending the kids to run to check on the pole on the other side of the pond with the active bobber. His engineering degree also was put to use in the construction of many Lego and Lincoln Log towers, bridges, and skyscrapers built with all of the grandkids. Many are memorialized in pictures.

Always an avid supporter of Peabody High School, he always looked forward to the annual Memorial Day dinner where he was behind the camera taking pictures. He mentored many of the young men from the FFA annual auction who came out and spent many hours on the farm. Some would continue to work with Bob over the years. The Moffetts attended high school sporting events as often as they could.

Each year, Bob was a favorite target at the annual Main Street Historical Society auction. Planners knew he was keenly interested in local memorabilia and there would be a few special items which would be included with Bob in mind. Bidding wars would ensue, with everyone understanding who the winner would be.

Bob was actively farming until last July when he was admitted to the hospital with an illness. He finally found a problem that couldn’t be worked and passed away at the age of 80, on Thursday, March 19, 2015, at Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice, Wichita, Kansas.

He was preceded in death by his parents, and siblings, Joseph Moffett and Dorothy Harp.

He is survived by his wife, Arleen; son Mitch Moffett and wife Vivian; daughter Janice Moffett, all of Peabody; and grandchildren Spencer Moffett and Kadin Moffett.

The funeral service was at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at Peabody United Methodist Church. Interment was in Prairie Lawn Cemetery at Peabody.

Memorial funds have been established for Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice or Peabody United Methodist Church, in care of Zeiner Funeral Home, 205 Elm St., Marion KS 66861.

Last modified March 25, 2015

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