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1925 Robert 2010

Robert S. Maher

June 13, 1925 — November 24, 2010

Robert S. Maher age 85 of Belle Fourche, died Wednesday November 24, 2010 at the Belle Fourche Regional Senior Care Center. Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:30am Tuesday December 14, 2010 at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Belle Fourche. Visitation will be held 4 to 6 pm Monday December 13th at Funeral Home of the Northern Hills. A Vigil will be held 7pm Monday at the church. Inurnment will be held 10am Wednesday December 15th at Pine Slope Cemetery. Military Honors will be provided by the Belle Fourche Veterans Honor Guard. Robert Stanley Maher was born June 13, 1925 in Fort Pierre, South Dakota, the fourth child, and second son of John B. and Rose (O’Connor) Maher. Bob grew up in the automobile business in Pierre where his father had the Dodge and Plymouth dealership. A life-long horseman, he remembered helping to care for the work horses that his dad would take in trade for cars and machinery during the Depression. At the polo stables in Pierre, Bob worked cleaning stalls and feeding horses for his brother, John, who handled the administrative end of the business and scheduled prize fights for his younger sibling. Bob’s brief career as a musician flourished in those years too, as a member of “The Three Bobbys” trumpet ensemble. Baseball, dogs, and bird hunting were concerns as well. After graduation from Pierre High School, Bob joined the United States Marine Corps and went to boot camp at Camp Pendleton. The Marine Corps training was effective. Dad said “they’d make you so damn mad you’d fight your own mother for thirty cents -- and not care about the money!” Assigned to the 3rd Marine Division, Bob fought on Iwo Jima and Guam where hunting and fishing were different than what he was accustomed to in South Dakota. Hunting often meant tracking the enemy through head-high grass where you couldn’t see five feet ahead. He never got used to that. Fishing was better, though--tossing grenades in a river was a novel approach to the sport. The last Marine to be killed in combat in WWII was a member of Bob’s company, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, and Bob wrote out the orders that sent that patrol out. Learning of that fact, some sixty years later, as he read the man’s name in an article in the VFW magazine, was a powerfully moving experience for him. Returning to civilian life in South Dakota meant returning to the car business for a time and then on to a new venture with his dad, the Maher Finance Company. The company made a lot of auto loans and occasionally required a repossession of assets from the far reaches of rural South Dakota. The Maher family heritage of putting in many miles at the end of a tow chain had its start here. In the years following the war, Bob’s love of horses brought him to the game of polo. He played with the Pierre club led by Bud Tyler and traveled to matches at Sturgis, at Sheridan, Wyoming, and as far away as Milwaukee and Chicago. In the early 50’s the cowboy life called and a ranching venture near DeGray, east of Pierre, was begun where he raised Hereford cattle. Bob was blessed to have found his best friend and the love of his life in Bobbie Cunningham. They married June 26, 1954, in Pierre, and moved to the ranch, where their boys, Jim and Jay, were born. By the end of the decade, Bob decided that, despite the exhilaration of the agricultural life, it was one of the few professions where one could work 18 hours in a day and yet be $10 poorer at the end of it. In 1960 they purchased the Zoart Motel in Murdo, which they operated for two and a half years, during which time Bob introduced new concepts for promotion and cooperation in the tourism industry. After selling the motel in Murdo, the Mahers returned to Pierre for a time while looking for new opportunities in the lodging business. In the interim, Bob sold cars and insurance, and the couple’s daughters, Cathy and Patti were born. In 1965 the family moved to Rapid City and purchased the Stables Motel at the corner of LaCrosse and Omaha streets. The 1972 flood caused considerable damage to the property, and the struggle to recover was difficult, but ultimately successful. Bob was active in the South Dakota Innkeepers Association and served on the board of directors for several years, including a term as its president. Bob and Bobbie were honored as the South Dakota Innkeepers of the Year in 1984. The Stables had a swimming pool, beloved by the Maher children, that was an albatross round the neck and a thorn in the side (or lower) of their father. He always threatened to turn it into a rock garden. In 1994 the motel was sold and Bob and Bobbie retired to Belle Fourche where they managed the family-owned Hillsview Trailer Park for several years. Bob Maher was well-suited to his calling in the lodging business and enjoyed most of all visiting with guests from across the country. Many of those guests became true friends who returned again and again. As a father, Dad did two of the most important things a man can do: he loved our Mother more than anything in the world, and he loved us, his children, and gave us a home in which we knew we could always find refuge. Dad loved kids, loved his grandkids especially, but he had a soft spot for all little ones and loved to make them laugh. His ready smile and wink will be remembered by many. Bob died at the age of 85 on Wednesday November 24, 2010 at Belle Fourche Regional Senior Care. Many thanks to the wonderful and compassionate caregivers there and at Country Place, and at Spearfish Regional whose kindness made his life better. Bob is survived by sons James (Jeannie) Maher of Belle Fourche, Jay (Rachel Slater) Maher of Minneapolis, MN; daughters, Catherine Ann (Jose) Torres of Aiken SC, Patti (Clyde) Collins of Troy, Missouri; 9 grandchidren, Katie, Rose, August, Sarah, and John Maher, Matthew, Christen, and Cassie Torres, and Bobby Collins. He is also survived by his brother, William (Rosemary) Maher of Spearfish, sisters-in-law, Rose Russell of Pierre, and Marjorie Small of Blunt, and brother-in-law Mel (Elaine) Cunningham of Pierre, and by many loving nieces and nephews, especially Jack Simkins, Judy Copeland, Sharon Hellman, Bette Horn and Dick Stelow. He was preceded in death by Bobbie, his loving wife of 56 years, his brother John, and sisters Mildred and Bernice. IN LOVING MEMORY Robert S. Maher DATE OF BIRTH June 13, 1925 – Fort Pierre, South Dakota DATE OF BIRTH June 13, 1925 – Fort Pierre, South Dakota DATE OF DEATH November 24, 2010 – Belle Fourche, South Dakota MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL 10:30 A.M. – Tuesday – December 14th, 2010 St. Paul’s Catholic Church Belle Fourche, South Dakota CELEBRANT – Father Timothy Castor       MUSIC “Amazing Grace” Strings –August, Sarah, John Maher, Maggie Sowers “On Eagle’s Wings”, “Be Not Afraid”, “I Am the Bread of Life”, “Song of Farewell”       CASKETBEARERS Clyde Collins                                                      Dick Stelow August Maher                                                     Jose Torres Jack Simkins                                              Matthew Torres      INURNMENT 10:00 A.M. – Wednesday – December 15th, 2010       Pine Slope Cemetery – Belle Fourche, SD MILITARY RITES Belle Fourche Veterans Honor Guard  
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