After a valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease, Robert Max Danforth, 82, formerly of Gladstone, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 surrounded by his proud and loving blended family; his daughters, grandchildren, caregivers, and his dear friend, Jimmy.
Robert was born Sept. 8, 1937, in Charlevoix, Mich., to Lyle and Ruth (Kamradt) Danforth. Lyle was killed in action in World War II and he was then raised by his mother, Ruth, and beloved stepfather, Eldon Neumann. He attended East Jordan schools, graduating in 1955 where he excelled in athletics becoming team captain, MVP, and bringing home state tennis championships to EJHS. “Bobby D.” may have been small in stature, but made a huge impact on both his teammates and competitors.
Robert went on to attend Central Michigan University where he graduated with a teaching degree in 1962. He began teaching in the Vestaburg, Mich., area where he was a respected coach of high school athletes. To supplement his family’s income, he taught drivers education and built silos. He continued his career as an American history and current events teacher, where he was named to “Who’s Who of American Teachers” of his students.
Robert married Deanna Derenzy on July 12, 1957 in East Jordan, Mich. Together, they had two daughters, Robin and Rhonda. Deanna also attended Central Michigan University where she obtained a teaching degree. In 1971, the family moved to Gladstone to teach until their retirement. Robert’s interests included golfing at the Gladstone Golf Club, watching football – especially his beloved Detroit Lions and University of Michigan Wolverines, watching baseball and his beloved Detroit Tigers. If you knew Robert well, you would avoid any mention of the Green Bay Packers.
Robert is survived by his eldest daughter, Robin Christine Danforth; Robin’s son, Joshua David Stevenson (Melinda Heitz); Joshua’s children, son, Jax David, and daughters, Alyssa Dee and Felicity Christine; Felicity’s daughter, Aurora Lee – Robert’s great-great-granddaughter; Robin’s daughters, Amy Jeanette Stevenson (Ryan Arens), and Shannon Dee Stevenson (Jeremy Bolek); and Shannon’s children, Drew David Metz, and Lucas Max Hultin.
Robert is also survived by his youngest daughter, Rhonda Lea “Dude” Danforth (Bill Multhaupt); Rhonda’s daughter, Abigail Lea Savard (Kyle); Abigail’s sons, Michael Robert, and Charles David; and her daughter, Deanna Jeanne. To Abigail and her children, he was their “Bucca.”
Robert is also survived by his sister, Phyllis Surgener (Ron); his brothers, Jack Neumann (Mary), and Daniel Neumann (Katherine); sister-in-law, Georgia Cutler; brother-in-law, Don Derenzy (Beverly); as well as several nieces and nephews, loyal friends, and his cat, Doodles Danforth.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Deanna; his father, Lyle Danforth; mother, Ruth Neumann; step-father, Eldon Neumann; brothers, Larry Danforth, and Ronnie Danforth; life-long friend and brother-in-law, Floyd Cutler; and nephew, Bradley Surgener.
Our family extends our special thanks and gratitude to Robert’s chosen family and caregivers: Candace Yelle; her children, Kaydence and Patrick, Ashley Gia Denniston; nurse, Linda Hague and the staff of UP Health System Home Health Care and Hospice. With your help, our warrior father lived the remainder of his life at home with dignity, love, and grace. We will be forever grateful to you. Our family would also like to extend our thanks to Anderson Funeral Home for the grace show to us at this difficult time.
And now, the eternal question remains from Mr. Danforth: “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”
Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 11, at the Anderson Funeral Home in Escanaba. A celebration of life service for Robert Max Danforth will follow at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Anderson Funeral Home Chapel. A luncheon will be held at the conclusion of the services in the Anderson Funeral Home reception room.
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