Memorial services for Cortez resident Robert Eugene "Bob" Van Sell will be held at the Masonic Lodge #111 in Nucla, Colorado Saturday, February 16 at 2:00 pm.
Robert Eugene "Bob" Van Sell was born July 15, 1934 in Atchison, Kansas to James and Clara (Mathena) Van Sell. He entered into rest at the family home in Cortez on Monday, February 11, 2013 after a lengthy illness. He was 78.
As a young boy, Bob moved to Boise, Idaho with his family. He attended school there and had many jobs as a young man. He was selling newspapers on the street corner when WWII was declared. He worked as a house painter and car detailer. At seventeen Bob enlisted in the United States Army.
Bob went to basic training at Fort Ord, California. His military career took him to Japan and Korea. He was a paratrooper with the 101st Screaming Eagles during the Korean Conflict. He also served with the 506 Division in Japan. In 1959 he was a member of the Army Competitive Sharp Shooting Pistol Team from Fort Campbell, Kentucky and had the opportunity to compete against Al Capone's daughter. He won many awards while competing. As a Staff Sergeant stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia he was a jump instructor for the paratroopers and trained the first compliment of the elite Green Berets when they were formed. His final assignment was as a helicopter aircraft electrician. During this assignment Bob designed the automatic weapons trigger mount for operating the machine guns while flying on a helicopter gun ship.
Bob met Janice Van Arsdale in 1955 when he came home on leave with her brother Billy. They exchanged letters daily while he was stationed overseas in Japan. Upon returning home in August 1956, they became engaged and were married on September 14, 1956. After his time in the army Bob moved his family to Rifle, Colorado to be near family and the great outdoors he loved.
Bob had a great love of fishing, hunting and camping with family. His favorite pastime was fly fishing. Although he was never very successful he would spend hours wading in the lakes and rivers of Colorado. He loved camping with family and friends and would often move the family and their small camper up Rifle Creek or to Meado Lake for the summer. He would then commute back and forth to work at Union Carbide in Rifle. Bob also loved playing cards. He was a master cribbage and pinochle player. He thoroughly enjoyed teaching his children and grandchildren. Many, many hours were enjoyed by the family around the game table.
In 1972 when Union Carbide closed in Rifle, Bob was transferred to Uravan, Colorado and worked there as an Instrument Technician until the mill closed in 1986. He was then transferred to the facility in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While living in Arkansas, Bob and Janice enjoyed many trips to the historic areas on the east coast. Bob retired in February 1999 and returned to Naturita to be near family and lifelong friends. When Bob and Janice felt the need to be nearer to doctors and medical facilities they purchased the family home in Cortez in October 2010.
In 1974, Bob was initiated into the Norwood Masonic Lodge #111 AF & AM. He attained the 32nd degree of the Masonic Lodge in 1975 and was a member of the Scottish rite. He held many offices in the Masonic Lodge and was the Worshipful Master in 2000. Bob and Janice joined the Order of Eastern Star in 1976. Bob served as the Worthy Patron of Bethany Chapter #148 for 13 terms of service, as well as Rainbow Dad for his daughter, Bobee and several other girls. The Masonic Lodge and Eastern Star was an integral part of the Van Sell home for many years.
Bob is survived by his wife, Janice, of 56 years; daughters Tandie (Byron) Morgan of Grand Junction and Bobee (Mark) Bucher of Dove Creek; his grandchildren, Tristan (Sterling) Clark, Toni (Michael) Morgan, Taylor (Caitlin) Bucher all of Colorado Springs, Natalia (Derrik) Mills and Tyrell (Emily) Bucher of Lubbock, Texas and Sydni (Nathan) Rice of Fort Drum, New York; his great-grandchildren, Ethin and Morgan Brady, Parker Oswald and Byron Lambes; his special brother-in-law, Billy (Jody) Van Arsdale; and his best friend from childhood, Larry (Lynette) Cantwell. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, James and Clara; his brother, Glen; his sister, Glenda; and by grandsons, Anthony and Matthew.