Bob Saunders, 88, of Billings, passed away Dec. 27, 2017, surrounded by his family.
He was born on Oct. 11, 1929, in Hardin, to Bob and Mattie (Bundy) Saunders and spent his childhood fly fishing in Black Canyon, camping in the Big Horn Mountains, and playing golf on cheatgrass and sand greens at the old Fort Custer golf course. He developed a lifelong interest in the lumber and building business from working at the family lumber yard in Hardin after school and during summers.
Bob played football and basketball at Hardin High School and was proud to have played on the 1948 basketball team that won the state Class B Championship his senior year.
In 1948, Bob enrolled at Montana State College in Bozeman, where he played varsity basketball, was a member of the SAE fraternity, and graduated in 1952 with a B.S. in Business.
He was called for duty in the Air Force in 1953, and was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base, the headquarters of the 8th Air Force, in Fort Worth, Texas.
In 1954 he married Patricia Nelson, whom he met on a blind date in college his senior year.
After his service, he and Pat returned to Hardin, where they raised their family and Bob ran the Saunders Lumber Co. with his father and brother Lloyd.
In 1969, the family moved to Billings, where Bob started a building materials business and a trucking company. Over the years, he and Pat built many homes, one of which they challenged themselves to build and finish with their own hands.
In 1992, Bob and his son acquired a local building supply wholesaler and developed their own line of specialty construction fasteners.
Bob continued working until age 80, when he retired and devoted himself to gardening. He loved sharing the pears, plums, grapes, raspberries and other bounty from his garden with all the neighbors.
He was a voracious reader with a remarkable memory and an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from Western history to geography.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers-in-law William Krismer and Robert Nelson. He is survived by his wife Patricia of Billings; son Rob (Kim); daughter Lisa of Seattle; grandson Robert (Ashley); granddaughter Sarah (Kaleb) Kaetterhenry; great-granddaughters Chloe and Evie; his sister, Martha Krismer of Carrollton, Texas; and brother Lloyd (Shirley) of Bigfork; close cousin Raymond (Cynthia) Saunders of Gillette, Wyoming; and sister-in-law Turid Nelson of Flower Mound, Texas; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
A celebration of his life with a reunion of family, friends and neighbors will take place in early July in his garden.
Memorials may be made to the Big Horn County Historical Museum in Hardin.