A Tribute to Robert Lee “Buddy” Bollmeyer
(November 18, 1928-January 1, 2021)
Robert Lee Bollmeyer was born in 1928 in La Grange, TX, the second of four children born to Robert Otto and Julia Rose (Krenek) Bollmeyer. He spent his youth in and around La Grange, where he honed his hunting and fishing skills and worked and played on the family farm.
After graduating from La Grange High School in 1951, “Buddy,” as he was known to friends and family, was drafted into armed service by “volunteering” to join the Marine Corps. He attended boot camp at Camp Pendelton in San Diego, CA, then was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina before shipping out to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Havana, Cuba, Port-au-Prince, and Panama for maneuvers. Earning excellent scores on his written aptitude tests, he specialized in communications, and was trained as a “radio man.” A crack shot, he earned a marksmanship medal for his excellent sharpshooting skills.
After his discharge in the early 1950s, he returned to Kovar, Texas, to help harvest cotton for his family. There, he met Lillie Hofferek, who, along with her family, had been hired to bring in the crop. Robert was fond of telling how he had to pick cotton “really fast in order to keep up” to talk with Lillie. After some prompting from his friends, he asked Lillie to go to the movies, which began their lifelong romance. While dating, they frequently went to the movies and two-stepped to country music on the jukebox at the Skyline Club or danced the polka to the various Czech bands that played in and around La Grange.
On June 7, 1958, Robert and Lillie were married in Dallas, Texas. A reception in Smithville, TX, followed in which many friends and family joined in celebrating the happy occasion. The newlyweds honeymooned the weekend in Lockhart, TX, since Robert had to work the following Monday. The couple began their married life together in an apartment in Austin, Texas, and purchased their first home in the city shortly after.
Shy by nature, Robert inherited his father’s interest and aptitude for all things mechanical. As a young man he built his own motorboat, which he would power down the local rivers or lakes. He also “piddled” with motors and was adept at repairing cars, a talent that ultimately led to Robert’s decision to become
a machinist. Employed as the chief machinist at Astro Mechanics for 28 years, Robert’s love of precision and desire to “get things just right” in a field where tolerances were often just fractions of an inch caused many to seek his services by name. If a project required extreme accuracy, he was the man for the job. Robert was able to quickly interpret, analyze, and suggest changes to detailed blueprint drawings. He brought to life many notable projects during his career, including parts for the Hubble telescope, the first artificial heart pump out of the University of Texas, a robotic arm for the space station, a prototype for the foosball table, an observatory telescope, and custom gold-plated faucets for King Saab. Robert loved machining so much that he bought his own lathe and housed it in a shop built on Lillie’s parents’ property, where he would fashion parts for whatever personal project he was working on at the time.
Both Robert and Lillie shared a love of traveling and seeing new places. Throughout his life, the two journeyed extensively together by car and plane—often accompanied by close family—including trips throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Robert combined his love of travel with his love of photography and he captured their journeys through his many pictures and slides. One of Robert’s photos of a ship in Tampa, Florida, was featured on the cover of a church magazine in the 1970’s. A devout man, Robert liked reading the Bible, attending church, and discussing the “Good Book.” Robert also enjoyed boating on Lake Travis, fishing, listening to polka music, hunting, stargazing through his homemade telescope, gatherings with close friends and family, and “good food”—meaning anything prepared without onions or coconut. Happiness to Robert meant an icy Dr. Pepper, a good crunchy pickle, Cheetos, or a serving of Lillie’s delicious homemade cakes, cookies, ice cream, or pies.
After the birth of his only child, Michele, in 1967, Robert became a devoted father, teaching Michele to fish in the family tank, ride a bike, and play badminton—and even going to the trouble to build a child’s sled out of wood and fiberglass for the snow that almost never came. Evenings would find Robert huddled over the table, helping Michele with her homework, and not giving up until every problem was solved. When Michele married in 1986 and left home, Robert and Lillie continued their travels, visiting Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe. To this day, Michele shares her father’s love of travel and photography.
In the 1990’s, Robert retired from Astro Mechanics and moved to Pflugerville, TX, where, at 82 years of age, he learned that he would be a grandfather. In 2009 his granddaughter, Tatiana, was born. Tatiana loved hearing her grandpa play the harmonica and enjoyed accompanying him on his riding lawn mower. Tatiana often drew pictures of mountains for her grandfather, and Robert was proud to drink his morning coffee from his “I love Grandpa” mug.
As the pace of Robert’s life slowed in 2020, Robert relied even more on his beloved Lillie to help with daily living. Time and again, Lillie tirelessly demonstrated her devotion to him through her round-the-clock service and love. Robert passed peacefully on January 1, 2021, after a short bout with heart failure. He is preceded in death by his parents and his siblings: Doris White, Marilyn Trlica, and David Bollmeyer. Robert is survived by his wife, Lillie, daughter Michele Gizelbach, son-in-law Terofil, granddaughter Tatiana, and his many nieces, nephews and cousins. Due to COVID-19, a private, socially distanced, graveside service will be held at the Kovar Brethern Cemetery. The family plans to hold a larger, public memorial post COVID-19. The immediate family wishes to thank dear friends and extended family for their support, and hospice staff Tina, Liz, Mo, and Maria for their help and care. Although Robert, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, and friend has left this world, he will always be remembered by those who knew and loved him.
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