Robert Louis Saving
September 24, 1945 - November 19, 2021
A celebration of Robert's life will be held Sunday, January 23, 2022 from 1 - 3 pm at the Cyrus Hotel, 920 S Kansas Ave, Topeka, KS. In lieu of flowers, family asks that donations be made to the University of Kansas Cancer Center or Midland Care Hospice.
Robert Louis Saving was born Sept 24, 1945 in Madison, WI to Donald F.W. (1917 - 2008) and Anna Barbara Batz Saving (1917 - 1981). Robert dedicated much of his life to teaching middle school and coaching youth sports. His commitment to educating future generations was apparent in his work ethic in the classroom and on the court, and in his popularity with his students and players. He was also a proud father and grandfather who supported his children and grandchildren in their endeavors (even if he didn’t always understand them). As an avid photographer and videographer, he took thousands of pictures and videos of his family, students, teams, and many dogs. But as the one usually behind the camera, he is in surprisingly few photos.
Robert was the fifth of nine children - Donald Jr. (1940 - 1989), Anne Irene “Dolly” (1942 - 1944), Peter (1943 - 2021), Diane (1944 - ), Eugene (1948 - 2019), Fred (1950 - ), Nedra (1952 - ) and Phillip (1956 - ). The family moved to Humboldt, KS in 1948 and then to Bonner Springs, KS ten years later where Robert attended 8th grade in a one-room schoolhouse in Wyandotte County. He started Bonner Springs High School in 1959 but the family moved to Ralston, NE for his senior year before returning to Bonner a year later.
While at Bonner High he met Kathleen Hoffine. The two would eventually attend Pittsburg State University together, marrying in 1967. At Pitt State, Robert joined Advanced ROTC and upon graduation in 1969 with a B.S. in Education entered the U.S. Army as an officer. On January 17, 1970, while they were stationed at the Pueblo Army Depot in Colorado, Kathy gave birth to their son, Shawn Christopher. Robert was promoted to Captain in 1971, shortly before deploying to Vietnam where he served with the 507th Transportation Group, Traffic Management Agency, MACV in Saigon. Robert received numerous commendations while in the Army, including the Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement. After returning to the States he left the Service to begin a career in teaching and coaching.
Robert’s love of sports extended beyond school. In the Summer of 1978, after witnessing the disarray of the town’s summer baseball and softball youth programs, he and Kathy founded the Oskaloosa Ballpark Association to raise funds for equipment, coordinate the scheduling of the field, and improve ballpark facilities. Within two years, teams had full uniforms, and the park had new concrete bleachers, safer fencing, and upgraded lighting. Though Robert’s summers were busy with the Association and umpiring softball across Northeast Kansas, he still found time to coach Shawn from t-ball through little league to pony league. On top of that, in 1985, Robert completed his Masters in Education at Washburn University.
Throughout the ‘80s, Robert and Kathy worked continuously on the house in Oskaloosa and helped many family members add on to theirs. Even with these commitments, they made time for family get-togethers, trips to the movies, and the occasional Royals game. Holidays were always an event, from decking out the house in Christmas lights to Robert appearing in elaborate costumes at Halloween (e.g., a dancing pig). Nevertheless, Robert and Kathy never missed the kids’ games or school band concerts, and every Summer the family managed to take vacations, most often weekends to the Ozarks, but also longer trips to Colorado, Chicago, Wisconsin and Florida.
The early ‘90s brought major changes to the Saving family. Robert and Kathy divorced in 1992 and Robert moved to Topeka. Robyn entered the University of Kansas that Fall, while Shawn completed his graduate degree at KU and moved to California in 1994. Though the family was moving apart, new relationships were forming, and on May 27, 1995, Robert had the honor of walking Robyn down the aisle at her wedding to Chad Scarlett.
In 1996, Robert married Edeltraud (Toni) Schwark Huff of Perry, KS and the family doubled in size. Toni had adult children of her own, Dolores and Ray, plus Ray’s wife, Pam, and daughter, Lyndsay. The family continued to grow with the birth of granddaughter, Laurann Snow, on July 24, 2001 to Robyn and Chad. Laurann’s sister, Rory Leeann, would follow six years later on Sept 6, 2007. Great granddaughters would come a few years later when Lyndsay gave birth to Atleigh Jo in 2012 and Harper Reese in 2013. Lyndsay’s marriage to Kyle Hodge in 2018 brought a third great granddaughter into the fold, Hadley Cait.
As Toni had been born and raised in Berlin, she and Robert made several trips to Germany to visit her family and explore the homeland of Robert’s ancestors. Though a stroke in 2001 limited his travels, he and Toni still frequently vacationed with his brothers and sisters and their families around the Midwest and South, often bringing Laurann and Rory along. He much enjoyed the girls’ school music performances and spent his summers following Rory’s softball team, seldom missing a game.
In the Spring of 2019, Robert was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Though the prognosis was not good, new medicines were able to provide him two more years of good living. He was able to see Laurann graduate from Free State High School and marry Anthony Beckerman, and watch Rory start junior high and play another season of softball. However, in the Fall of 2021, doctors discovered the cancer had metastasized and while in the hospital for complications from chemotherapy, Robert suffered a severe stroke. He never regained consciousness. Robert Louis Saving died at Midland Care Hospice on the afternoon of November 19, 2021. He was 76.