Robert “Bob” J. Newkirk

PORTAGE – Robert “Bob” J. Newkirk, age 87, of Portage, passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, January 4, 2018.

Robert “Bob” John Newkirk was born on September 8, 1930, in Mauston, the son of John T. and Laverda E. (Velliquette) Newkirk.  Bob lived in Mauston until age 8 when his family moved to Portage.  He attended school in Portage and graduated from high school in 1949.  Bob had a special relationship with his grandmother, Eliza (Claflin) Veliquette who lived with them throughout his childhood.  He was proud of his accomplishments as a young man, earning a pro marksmanship certificate at age 14 from the National Rifle Association, his Life Scout award and the time he spent boxing during high school.  He loved bike trips and camping.  As a teenager he and a few friends rode their bikes and camped all the way to Iowa and back.  The summer following high school Bob and several buddies took a trip by vehicle to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming and to Winnipeg, Canada. 

Bob graduated from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois and did advanced training in Texas.  He was stationed in Newfoundland during the Korean War, beginning his service as a swimmer taking a line out to the planes that had landed in the water.  He finished his service working as an airplane mechanic.  Bob proudly served his country in the US Navy from 1950 to 1954 and was honorably discharged.  He attended college in Stevens Point for a short time. He married Patricia R. Wilson on January 15, 1955.  They had 5 children, John, Julia, Jay, Timothy and Robert.  They later divorced.

Bob worked at Winkler Auto Supply, as a machinist for Portage Casting and Mold and then was a purchasing agent for Big Joe Manufacturing in Wisconsin Dells.  He married Mary Jane (Clemens) Buffington, they were later divorced, but remained friends until she passed away.  Bob was a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion.   

He is survived by his sister, Barbara Hunt, of Beaver Dam; his children, John, Julia (Glenn) Hayes, of Wolf Creek, MT, Jay, of Duluth, MN, Timothy, of Rockdale, and Robert, of London; a step-son, Jim Clemens; his 6 grandchildren, Michael (Jennifer) Hayes, of Helena, MT, Janelle (Merle) Linjanen, of Wolf Creek, MT, Matthew (Mandy) Hayes, of Wolf Creek, MT, Dylan Finch-Newkirk, of Denver, CO, Julia Finch-Newkirk, of Minneapolis, MN and Sofie Finch-Newkirk, of Minneapolis, MN; his 25 great-grandchildren, Austin, Rebekkah, Kaitlin, Addisyn, Garrett, Owynn, and Teigan Hayes, Ryan, Zachary, Liam, Makenzie, Kassidy, Aiden, Kayla, Makiah, Makenna, Isaiah, Levi, and Kambrie Linjanen, Logan, Brody, Colton, Parker, Kason, and Jaxston Hayes, all of Montana; his nephew, Bill Egan, of Portage; his nieces, Lori Wolf, and Lisa Klosterman; several great-nieces and great-nephews; good friends, Glenn and Jackie Nelson of Portage and other close friends too numerous to mention. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Janette (Egan) Sarbacker.  

Bob was known to everyone who knew him as “Newk”.  He had many friends and enjoyed their companionship, especially in his later years.  He will be greatly missed by all those who loved and cared for him.

Inurnment will take place in the spring at Oak Grove Cemetery, in Portage with Military Honors by Portage Area Veterans Honor Guard. 

Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage is assisting the family.




For information please call 608 742-2126 (Portage, WI) or 608 635-2763 (Poynette, WI)