Ret. Col. George R. (Bob) Underhill, 93, passed away peacefully at his home in Huson, Montana, on Friday, January 14, 2022.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, April 8, 1928, to George and Irene Underhill and shortly thereafter, his family moved to Mt. Pulaski, Illinois. After completing high school and two years of junior college, he was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
He graduated from West Point on June 3, 1952 and married his high school sweetheart, JoAnn Drabing, in the Cadet Chapel the same day. They immediately moved to California where he shipped out to Korea. Upon return he began his military career and he and his wife moved frequently within the United States and Europe while raising their four daughters.
Highlights of his 23 years of active military service include tours of duty in Korea and Vietnam, completion of a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech, assignments to the Defense Nuclear Agency (high altitude nuclear test site) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. He fully embraced and lived West Point’s ideals of Duty, Honor, Country throughout his life and was awarded commendations and citations for his service and bravery, including two silver stars.
After earning his teaching certificate, he retired honorably from the military in 1975 as a full Colonel and the family moved to northern Minnesota, where he taught physics and International Baccalaureate program classes at Grand Rapids High School. He loved teaching, positively touching the lives of his students. With his assistance and guidance 13 of his students graduated from West Point and 5 graduated from the Air Force Academy.
He retired from teaching in 1995 and he and his wife moved to Huson, Montana, where he enjoyed the outdoors as an avid fisherman and hunter. He especially enjoyed the camaraderie of his Minnesota and Montana friends while fishing and hunting in both states as well as Canada.
Always mindful of his influence as a husband, father, military serviceman, teacher, friend and neighbor he shared warmth, humor, laughter, encouragement and support to those he encountered every day. He touched so many people throughout his life and will be missed by all who knew him.
He was a wonderful father with his positive outlook and can do attitude. We are so fortunate to have had him as our dad and his legacy will live on through our memories and the many life lessons he taught us.
He was preceded in death by his parents (George and Irene), sister (Jane), sister and brother in-law (Virginia and Herb Ayers), beloved wife (JoAnn), loving daughter (Leslie Ericksen), grandson (Cody Ericksen) and great grandson (Chance Powell).
He is survived by his daughters Lisa Underhill (Tom Stone) of Minnesota, Amy Adams (Steve) of Wisconsin and Melissa Underhill of Washington; grandsons Martin Adams, Paul Adams and Jesse Barnes; granddaughter Rebecca Sutton and great granddaughter Emily Powell.
A celebration of his life will take place 1-3:00 p.m., Saturday, February 5, at Garden Center Funeral Home and Crematory, 1705 W. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59808, 406/543-4190. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to K9s for Warriors, Parkinson’s Foundation or a charity of choice.