1936 - 2013
By Kerry Watson, Communications SpecialistWe were saddened to learn of the passing of Robert “Big Bob” Krehbiel this past week. He was an icon, not only of the Moundridge community, but also of Mid Kansas Cooperative Association.
Bob served in various roles during his fifty-one years of service at the coop but most notably was the role of the on-site repairman for large farm equipment tires and station manager.
In an interview with MKC in October, 2008 Bob commented that he was amazed at how the coop had changed since his first day at Elyria Coop Station. He also commented that nobody ever thought they would work for one company that long. While he did look for other jobs from time to time, Bob mentioned that he never found one that he thought would be better. His job at the coop was close to home and he commented it paid better than a factory job.
Bob started out changing tires, greasing cars and filling gas tanks and then went on the road fixing tires across the county. One of the few on-farm repair service trucks in the area, Bob commented that it wasn’t easy work. Old tractors were terrible to work on, according to Bob. The tires were filled with calcium chloride that would rust iron and shrink leather – his shoes lasted about three months and once a glove accidently dropped into the mixture shrunk to about one-fifth of its original size after two weeks. The tire material itself was stiff and difficult to work with and the split rims on much of the farm equipment and trucks could be dangerous to work on. Bob developed techniques that would keep him out of harm’s way.
Besides his work, Bob was also a member of the Bachman Oilers, a fast pitch softball team. Back in the day, he was the pitcher for the team and often would pitch 8-10 games on a long weekend tournament after working on tires under the hot Kansas sun. Bob was known in the area for his “wicked change-up”; an off-speed pitch that was known to buckle the knees of the batters he faced.
According to friends and family, Bob worked hard and played hard, but his specialty in life was relationships. He wasn’t just a well-known person, but he was a person that people wanted to know. In retirement, Bob began a new routine, with old and new friends, drinking coffee, recapping sporting events and talking about virtually everything at the local coffee spot.
So long, Big Bob. Your smile and laughter will be missed by many.