Born to Margaret (Holmes) Tuchel and Robert Charles Tuchel of Minier, Illinois on 1 May 1921, Robert Holmes Tuchel passed away October 9, 2019 at the age of 98. He leaves his dearly beloved spouse, Wanda (Brooks) Tuchel, and four children: Robert B. Tuchel, Thomas Tuchel, Elaine Biser, and Trenna Thomas, plus their many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Robert’s only sibling, James Milton Tuchel preceded him in death.
Robert’s student life at the University of Illinois ended suddenly following the historic events of December 7, 1941. He joined the Army Air Force and was assigned to the 392nd Bomb Group, stationed in Wendling, England. Bob, as he was known, rose to the rank of Captain. Flying a B-24 over France and Germany, he completed 35 missions, not without harrowing experiences. Bob embarked upon his last mission when the skies cleared over Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. As pilot of his B-24 “Liberator”, Bob’s combination of leadership and combat skills, earned him official recognition for contributing to the end WW II. Bob was awarded the Air Medal and 4 Oak Leaf Clusters. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, and was inducted into the Military Aviation Hall of Fame of Illinois in 2003. In 2017, Bob was awarded the Knight of the French Legion of Honor for his role in helping to liberate France. As with many returning veterans, the experiences were at the cost of difficult experiences during a troubled time in our world.
Bob and Wanda Brooks married in 1942 in the midst of the turmoil of WWII. Their marriage of 77 years brought wonderful memories of raising children, building a home, and extensive travel including a trip to England and France to tour WWII military sites. They enjoyed happy times with friends, playing in their bridge club and attending Illinois football games.
Bob’s life’s work was as an agent for the Champaign office of the Illinois Farm Bureau, now Country Financial. Associating with his many customers and co-workers, a circle in which he built lasting friendships, brought joy to him. Bob found great satisfaction in accepting the challenge of continuously honing his skills and increasing his expertise in the industry in order to better serve his clients and the company. He completed coursework as a Chartered Life Underwriter and served a term as president to the professional organization.
Having once set aside his academic aspirations, following retirement, Bob completed an Associate’s Degree in Music at Parkland College and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. His children encouraged him to complete this achievement that meant so much to him. Upon graduation, and now being fully educated, he was jokingly urged by his children to get a job, which he did and began teaching insurance courses at Parkland College.
A 74 year resident of Champaign, Bob was active in local organizations. For many years he played trombone with the Parkland College Concert Band. Continuing an interest in flying, he joined the University of Illinois Glider Club, both as glider pilot and tow pilot, and earned the Silver Badge from the Soaring Society of America. Bob supported the Conservatory of Central Illinois and served on its board. For many years after retirement, Bob was a member the Champaign Lion’s Club and served a term as president.
Robert Tuchel was known to all as a friend, an honest person, and one whose word could be depended upon. His love and tireless energy for his family has given family members wonderful memories to be cherished.
A graveside service will be held for Robert on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 11am at Minier Cemetery 701 Cemetery Rd. Minier, IL. 61759. A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 2pm at First Presbyterian Church of Champaign 302 W. Church St. Champaign, IL. 61820
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