Robert L. Stark, age 95, of Elgin, IL, died peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on March 19, 2022. He was born June 17, 1926 in Gary, IN to his loving parents, Lozier and Adele (née Niemeyer) Brown.
Bob and his parents and siblings eventually moved to Sycamore, IL, where he began attending high school, only to enlist at age 17 with the Marines to fight in WWII. He served as a Corporal in Squadron #1 and saw action in the Central Pacific. He returned to the U.S. and enrolled at Northern Illinois Normal School (NIU), until it was discovered he hadn’t completed high school. He completed his GED and then continued working toward a Bachelor of Education. While working toward his degree, he was called back into service with the Army and served as a 1st Lieutenant in the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. In 1953 he was awarded the Bronze Star.
Bob and his wife Eunice had recently celebrated 71 years of marriage and their love for each other was timeless. Even while he was overseas during the Korean War, Bob wrote numerous love letters to Eunice in his absence.
After the military, education became Bob’s passion, second only to his family. His first job as a teacher was at Elburn High School as a science teacher, followed by six years at DeKalb High School. He went on to become principal at Winnebago Jr/Sr High School outside of Rockford, and then served as a superintendent in two small districts in North Central Illinois, until moving to Champaign, IL. While there, he worked on his doctorate at the University of Illinois and worked in the Urbana school district.
Bob and his family moved to Elgin in 1976 where he developed and was the director of the U46 Adult and Alternative Education Program, which has evolved, but still exists to this day. In 1984 he moved on to other educational pursuits and eventually returned to teaching science at St. Edward High School in Elgin in 1988. He loved being back in the classroom, but in 1994 returned to his love of adult education with a coordinator’s position at Elgin Community College. When he truly retired in 1997, he had over 40 years of experience helping students and adults find a way to graduate high school and continue their education. Perhaps it was that innate motivation to help others that explains his consistently positive outlook, love of life, and enjoyment of spending time with others.
Bob traveled all over the United States with Eunice while they still were able, and managed to visit most of the continental United States during summers and fall. While their children Brian and Renee were school-aged, they took them on many of these trips, but they also traveled on their own after becoming empty-nesters in the early 1990’s. The highlight had to be when they spent the summer of 1987 as volunteer fire-watchers on Ute Mountain in Utah.
Bob did find time for other pursuits: he loved landscaping and gardening, wildlife and the outdoors, and, most recently, listening to audiobooks, watching the History Channel, and attending Sunday services at First Congregational Church in Elgin.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Eunice Stark; stepmother, Jesse Evans; father, Lozier Brown; and brother, James Stark. He is survived by his sister, Susan Wilder of Mechanicsberg, PA; son, Brian Stark of West Dundee; daughter, Renee (Michael) Buhrow of Algonquin; four grandchildren, Taylor Stark, Bailey Stark, Ethan Buhrow, and Linnea Buhrow; three sisters-in-law; and eight nieces and nephews.
Bob’s family would like to thank caregiver Raymond for his exceptional and seemingly boundless care, to Transitions Hospice, and to Sam and Donna for the giving of their time for so many years.
Visitation will be 4:00pm to 8:00pm, Friday, March 25, 2022 at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, 305 Park Street, Elgin, IL 60120.
Mourners are encouraged to review the funeral home COVID-19 public health policies ahead of time.
To access the visitation remotely, loved ones are encouraged to log on safe from home via Zoom.us (Meeting ID: 814 7127 2450, Password: 238523).
Funeral service will be 11:00am, Saturday, March 26, 2022 at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 256 E. Chicago Street, Elgin, IL 60120. Rev. Dr. Jesse Tanner will be officiating.
Interment with full military honors to follow at Bluff City Cemetery, 945 Bluff City Boulevard, Elgin, IL 60120.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Bob’s name to the U-46 Educational Foundation.
Final arrangements entrusted to Symonds-Madison Funeral Home. For more information, call 847-741-1128 or visit www.symondsmadison.com.