Bobby Kassel Bopp was born in Bliss, Idaho, on February 18, 1923. His parents lived during a difficult time in our country’s history during the heart of the great depression. His parents, Oliver and Delilah, through their hard work, determination, and love for their children, were able to soften the effects of the depression. Sadly, Bob lost his mother as she gave birth to his baby sister, an occurrence more common at that time. As hard as it was, the family persevered. But shortly afterwards another tragedy occurred when Bob's father was killed by a reckless driver as he was attempting to repair a trailer hitch on the roadside. Now, with no parents to assure the welfare of the family, Bob, and his older brothers, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and worked together to ensure the welfare of their younger siblings. No one called the government and demanded help; they took care of each other. Over the years, Bob, and his loving bride Esther looked after their younger siblings, ensuring they would be taken care of in times of need.
Growing up as a teenager and young man he built bridges and roads, worked in mines and logging for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCCs). After the CCC’s he moved to Portland, Oregon and worked as a welder on liberty ships. Later, Bob, along with many of his fellow citizens, joined the military and went abroad to defend the country he loved so much. He had developed many skills in construction so the Army assigned him to the 373rd Engineer Regiment, ultimately achieving the rank of Sergeant. Bob lost many friends as they cleared minefields and more friends while being shelled with artillery fire as they rushed to erect bridges to continue the push for victory.
While Bob was home on leave in August of 1945, he was at a coffee shop in Twin Falls and a customer shared, “Hey soldier, did you see we dropped a big bomb on Japan? The war should be ending quickly!” And indeed, the war did end and Bob did not need to return to Europe. Having served in England, France and Germany, Bob was honorably discharged. At the close of the war, the next chapter of his life began after meeting a lovely lady from Jerome, Idaho, Esther Kinsfather, who would later become his wife of 73 years.
Bob’s pride and joy was being an Idahoan, so he and his wife Esther settled in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they lived for over 60 years and raised their two sons, Robert and Ron. Bob was a first responder by profession serving on the Twin Falls Fire Department for over 40 years. He began his career as a basic firefighter where he moved “up the ladder”, ultimately serving as the assistant Fire Chief for 10 years, and Fire Chief for 15 years until his retirement in 1985. Bob was active in his community, especially the Boy Scouts, serving many roles: Scoutmaster, Leadership Training, District Administrator, and ultimately, he was awarded the Silver Beaver for outstanding service to the Boy Scouts. Idaho had no greater spokesman than Bob as he and Esther traveled the world in their retirement extolling the state they loved and always giving anyone they met a special Idaho potato pin!
Bob’s love and commitment to family was always evident. Family dinners, holiday events, and “get togethers” were frequent, Sun Valley cabin memories were cherished, and pictures of their traveling adventures were too many to count! Bob and Esther fully embraced their role as proud parents and grandparents. Robert and Julie’s children, John and Katie, enjoyed the early years of school breaks in Idaho and car trips to places all over the map with Grandma and Grandpa. By the time Ron and Anne’s children Sam, Ben, and Ryan were growing up, Bob and Esther moved to Pocatello and gladly took on their new roles supporting their grandkids in all their activities – attending numerous sporting events, chauffeuring duties, dinners out, and cruise adventures all over the world. Ultimately, Bob had the pleasure of welcoming to the family his two great-grandchildren, Eloise and Madeline.
And finally, Bob was a strong man of faith. He committed his time, talents, and treasure to the ministry of church and school at Immanuel Lutheran, Twin Falls, where both of his sons attended school and he served as chairman for key building projects for the church and school which are still in use today. Later, at Grace Lutheran in Pocatello, Bob and Esther continued their commitment to the ministry of Lutheran schools. Being a first responder as a firefighter did not stop when Bob retired, for when he saw a need, he continued to always respond. He lived his life as an example of hard work, commitment, and care, a legacy he left for us all and a model to follow.
Bob is survived by his wife Esther, sons Robert (Julie) & Ron (Anne) Bopp, grandchildren John Bopp & Sebastian Arana, Katie (Kyle) Hunt, Samantha, Ben, and Ryan Bopp, great-grandchildren Eloise and Madeline Hunt, and sisters Lucille Deagle, Mildred Warren, and Sandra Sturgeon. Bob outlived his brothers Gene, Don, Jim, Fred, and sister Marjorie, as well as his dear sister-in-laws. Bob’s siblings were always near and dear to his heart.
A memorial service to give thanks to God for Bob's life will be scheduled at a later date in the spring of 2021 at Grace Lutheran Church in Pocatello, Idaho to allow for all family/friends to be present and military honors to be bestowed.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bob's name to Grace Lutheran School, 1350 Baldy Ave, Pocatello, Idaho 83201.