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Robert Anton Tomsheck, long time Sunburst area farmer, rancher, community leader, and beloved family man, passed away Tuesday, January 23, leaving behind a substantial legacy for the future. Funeral service will be 2:00 pm, Tuesday, January 30, at the Sunburst Lutheran Church followed by burial in the Sunburst Cemetery. Visitation with family will be 5:00-7:00 pm, Monday, January 29, at the Whitted Funeral Chapel in Shelby.
Robert (Bob) was born December 11, 1923, in South Haven, Michigan, to Anton and J. Etta (Wilcox) Tomsheck. Bob grew up on the farm that his father homesteaded east of Sunburst. He attended several country schools including the Tomsheck-Wallewein, Hey, and Toole Schools, and graduated from Sunburst High School.
As a young man he and his brothers went to enlist in the military during World War II. He was instructed by the military to remain stateside and work as a mechanic on farm equipment at Torgerson’s of Ethridge, where he served throughout the war.
Bob and his brother Arthur jointly purchased the land that their father homesteaded, expanding the farm over the years.
Bob married Ethel J. Wallewein, the girl next door, May 2, 1948 in Sunburst, with whom he shared a life for over 65 years. They farmed east of Sunburst until retirement. He was a forward thinking farmer and a devoted husband and father. Bob lived a modest life in order to provide opportunities for his children, including purchasing the Toole Ranch and other properties.
He committed himself to community service including serving for over 13 years as a Toole County Commissioner, several of those as Board Chair, writing grants to build the Marias Medical Center, Clinic and Care Center, the Toole County Sherriff’s Office, as well as developing, improving and paving many rural roads throughout the county.
He worked with the local community to develop the Oilmont Water District in North Toole County using spring water from his ranch to supply on-site running water for around 85 services with over 100 miles of water line, all gravity fed without pumps anywhere. To expand the services he worked to access additional water from the North Central Water Project so more people could receive more water. This was the first time these families didn’t have to haul their own water.
He served on the tri-county fair board and the hospital board, and was very active in the Montana Farmer’s Union, representing them at President Eisenhower’s inauguration. In Sunburst he was a first responder and drove the ambulance, supported the schools, helped build the Sunburst Library and Lutheran Church, served on the Church Council, was a Sunday School Superintendent and teacher, and sang in both the church and community choirs. He won the Outstanding Farmer of the Year award, and the Conservationist of the Year award. He loved to fish, camp, garden, play cards, games, puzzles, and travel with his family.
Survivors include daughters, Lyla (Mike) Houglum of Corvallis, OR, and Bonnie (Wade) Miller of Kalispell; sons, Darold (Lorna) Tomsheck, Rex (Khandi) Tomsheck, Terry (Carol) Tomsheck all of Sunburst, and Clifton (Kelly) Tomsheck of Butte; sister, Jeanette Brown of Shelby; brother, Raymond (Georgia) Tomsheck of Ethridge; sister-in-law, Agnes Tomsheck of Cut Bank; as well as 21 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren, and numerous nephews and nieces.
He is preceded in death by his wife; his parents; one brother, Arthur; sisters, Ruth, Bernice, and Alice; sister-in-law, Lois Tomsheck; brothers-in-law, Bill Kimmitt, Roy Christopherson, and Irvin Brown, and a great-granddaughter, Katearah.
He was a visionary community minded leader and a welcoming caring family man who will be greatly missed by all.