Robert Edgar “Bob” Buttram
May 31, 1940 ~ October 18, 2020
Robert Edgar “Bob” Buttram, 80, of Anderson, Missouri, passed away on Sunday, October 18, 2020 at Mercy Hospital Joplin, Missouri.
Born May 31, 1940 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to John H. and Evelyn (Welch) Long, Bob led a varied life greatly enjoying golf, fantasy league sports, and bridge. Through his struggles Bob was finally rewarded with the happiness of his grandchildren, grandnieces, and grandnephews. He loved keeping in touch with each and every one of them as well as wishing them each a happy birthday. It was rare for Bob not to be the first one to call with birthday wishes. The family would like him to be remembered for the love he had and how he made each and every grandchild, niece or nephew feel special. He had a joke ready on any and all occasions and if you were lucky enough to physically be with him maybe even a piece of candy.
For those of us fortunate enough to spend time with him we found him extremely competitive and always willing to play board games and cards. To be counted among the few who bested Bob at cards or fantasity football, you know it was indeed a special moment in your life.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and brothers: Jack Buttram, John Buttram, and Ray Buttram .
Bob is survived by his children, Robert Michael Buttram, wife Ana, children Kevin, Alexandra, Robby, and Michael of Spring, Texas; Michelle Guppy, husband Todd, children Mathew and Brandon of Cypress, Texas, Robert Einar Holt, wife Pamela, children Noah and Olivia of Middleburg, VA; eight grandchildren and one great grandchild, Royce, along with numerous nephews and nieces as well as hosts of other family and friends who will dearly miss Bob.
Bob was one of seven siblings and is survived by brothers, William Buttram of Gravette, Arkansas, James Buttram of Lanagan, Missouri; sisters, Frances Cook of Diamond, Missouri,
Online condolences may be sent to the family at:
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My name is Robert Michael Buttram and Bob is my father.
I had an up and down relationship with my father, and barely saw him or spent any real time with him growing up. Later in life I did get to learn who he was in the many years he worked very hard to make it up to me. My dad lived with me in Joplin at the beginning of my Walmart career, moved with me to Kansas City as I worked up the ladder; and then finally moved with me again when I moved to San Antonio TX.
I learned a lot about who he was in those years. Our relationship was still very difficult. It wasn’t until I made him a grandfather that I learned who my dad really was. I feel confident that the man I grew to know; that grandfather, is the same man that I am sure all of you know. A man whose heart melted when he held one of our children. A man with no means and no money, nor cared for it anyway, who always seemed to get a birthday or Christmas gift for our kids. A man who regardless of getting a gift, made sure that he was the first to call you on your birthday, or take you to lunch if you were within driving distance of him.
I will get back to this part of my dad in a bit...
But to fully understand who he was, you have to talk about his insistent need to always win and be right. I remember a time when he was visiting me in Kansas City, where he got so mad that I was winning in scrabble and dared to challenge his made-up word, that he stormed out of my apartment and set off to walk home to Anderson. Another time in Neosho, that for the first time ever it looked that I might break par in Golf and maybe beat him, that on the back nine he constantly tried to play mind games with me so that he could win, (which he did).
He had a temper, but also a heart as big as anyone’s.
This also reminds me of a couple stories of my dad getting kicked out basketball games... During my senior year at the Neosho holiday tournament, my dad got so mad at the refs they kicked him out. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure he has been kicked out of a few of our family members games. If anyone can provide testament for his love of the truth and/or always being right, try riding with him to Texas from Missouri like his ex-wife, my mom, did so many times to come visit my sister and I. I would have hated to be a fly in that car with those two. I bet they argued over where the Texas state line really is, and if that river is really a river or not. As a matter of fact, he probably tried to convince her that it was not water at all, that it was jello down there.
In his later years I found that his need to compete didn’t stop at board games, trivia, the Almanac, cards, or golf; but also included Fantasy Football. My dad got so mad at Tom Brady for purposely not scoring a touchdown at the end of a game when they were winning, just so I could win, that he wanted to quit our league.
In the end though we always ended in an argument much like I am sure many of you also endured with him... One of our last fights was over how long it took to drive from Miami to Tampa (which I had just looked up on GPS). He got so mad that I argued with him, and as usual he hung up on me.
Unfortunately, for many of us we just couldn’t understand the lesson that he was trying to teach us; or at least the lesson he was trying to teach me. Standing here in front of all of you I regret so much that I didn’t listen. That it took his untimely death for me to ‘get it’. In my pursuit of being Wal-Mart’s youngest ever CFO, and then later more stuff, and then owning businesses worth hundreds of millions of dollars, we constantly fought. We always fought. Each new material possession, each International Trip, each new company I owned, drove us farther apart. He constantly tried to get me to listen, to understand.
How could I? How could I listen to a man who his whole life could never keep a job, who never admitted to being wrong, almost never apologized. A man who never owned his own home or had a hundred dollars to his name... A man who lived off $684 Month. Why would I listen to him?
How my arrogance blinded me! My dad was trying to teach me the most important lesson of all. One that I only can see now through his death, and in the story that we all share. It’s the personal relationships we keep, it’s our family being together, knowing each other’s phone numbers, names, birthdays, and always remembering to call. Never forgetting what we all have in common. Never forgetting to try and put a smile on your face and laugh at a joke or make you feel special on your birthday.
Unless I change, I can guarantee my dad died with far more
than I will ever accumulate.
He knew all of us. He loved all of us. He had the love of ALL of us.
For me, it’s not too late. Perhaps too late to tell him while he was alive, but not too late to slow down, spend more time with my family, my sisters family, my brothers family, my kids, and many of you --- my relative’s that I have put off getting to know in my pursuits of bigger and more.
I leave you all with this, my hope...
My HOPE that we all can take a little piece of my dad with us, and to remember that life is about the personal relationships that we have.
For me it’s one day at a time, but I hope to start now and never forget this lesson my father’s death has taught me.
Robert Buttram, Bobbybitejr....
Friend, Father, Brother, Grandpa, or role-model. He was many different things to us, but the one thing he was to all of us, was loved.
To me he was my grandpa, my role-model, and my personal comedian. I would call my grandpa multiple times a week, and starting every single phone call he would say, “Hello, is this you?” I would respond saying, “No this is me!” and my grandpa laughing, would say, “Oh, I thought this was you!” Every single phone call he would end with a joke. I remember the last joke my grandpa told me: A Texan goes to Australia for vacation, while he was there he takes a tour with the local guide. While driving around, the guide points out a large wheat field. “In Texas, we have wheat fields twice as large!” They then drive past a herd of cattle. “Our long horns are at least twice that large in Texas. The guide is starting to get annoyed with the Texan, so he decides to take a detour. The Texan soon looks over at the kangaroo and says, “What the hell are those?” The tour guide says “What? You don’t have grasshoppers in Texas?”
Not the best joke, but Grandpa, being forgetful, told that joke to me around 10-15 times in the last several months.
I remember one day after a terrible and stress-filled school day, my grandpa called me with a joke and a story about a little girl whom he loved, Bailey.
Just a phone call from my grandpa inevitably changed my mood. I can’t believe he is gone and I can never get another joke and phone called filled with laughter. I was telling my aunt a quote I had read a couple weeks ago, when you question why God had to take someone so special away from you. Ask yourself, which flowers do you pick in a garden. God picked just about the biggest flower, but one that needs to be watered the most.
While my grandpa was definitely a handful, I will never regret one conversation or any time spent with him.
God got a good one and we all know it too, we all loved him.
And sometimes it takes a loss to realize what you once had.
Though the early years of our step-father, step-daughter relationship were more roller-coaster than smooth-sailing --- the many years following were ones of camraderie sprinkled with love.
If it were not for Bob sitting with me in the living room until well past midnight when I was in the 3rd grade and couldn't master subtraction - I would still, today, be trying to figure out how to balance a checkbook! Any word problem in math that was ever assigned to me over the school years, was done by Bob. If it weren't for him, I would never have learned to drive a stick-shift car, let alone be able to shift on an incline. I like to think a number of any premature gray hairs of his were caused by those driving lessons alone. He had a sharp mind and a quick wit. One always knew exactly what Bob thought, and exactly where he stood on things.
Bob was very matter-of-fact, not only with things he thought, but in bluntly deciding what he would, or would not do. If he didn't want to do something, you were not going to change his mind. Good, bad, or ugly, he was real. Never fake. And in today's culture, that is rare. If it were biologically possible, I would say I proudly inherited the good in those traits from him.
With that said, I like to think I was special to him in that I'm sure I was one of the select few who could get him to take a picture wearing a camoflauge santa hat and matching pajamas after he repeatedly said no. He didn't smile for the picture, but he begrudgingly let me take it. Rare moments like that were so very special for me and I will cherish them.
He taught me the value of simplicity.
I have always liked to make each Christmas special - not with gifts - but with memories. One Christmas I bought an ornament that made me think of each person, and wrote them a Christmas letter as to why that ornament represented them. The ornament they opened and hung on my tree, and the letter they kept as a gift.
Bob's ornament was one that depicted Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree. That little scrawny tree that was missing most of it's branches and needles, and that held only one ornament. His letter one that reflected the good in hime in why I chose that for his ornament. As long as I've known Bob, his lifestyle was like that Christmas tree. Plain, simple. I felt sorry for that at first - in the circumstances behind that ----but the older I got, the more I admired him for the lesson I learned in that. He lived simply, had few material possessions, and yet seemed to lack for nothing. Where most people collect things, he, in a way, collected people. People mattered to Bob. Personal connections. He may not have had a big home, fancy clothes, or a nice car --- but he had something far more valuable --- he knew everyone's Birthday and phone number and made you feel special that he took the time to call. No amount of wealth, status, or prestige could ever match the priceless of that. I deeply regret the times he did call that I didn't answer, or the times I forgot to call him back when I saw his missed call.
No matter what he got wrong in life, he overwhelmingly got that priority right; and I pray that is something everyone comes to appreciate more, and carry on, in honoring his life.
I love Bob more than ever in thinking about that, and I never truly appreciated that as I should have.
Bob knew everyone's Birthday.
And everyone's phone number.
And he took the time to call you when it was yours.
It is hard to share memories of Bob without including my mother. Though they have been divorced for years, they have found a way to remain friends. Greater friends than they ever seemed to be as husband/wife. Whatever the dynamics were, I am thankful for how we could all still be family and do things together, not separately. Thank you, Mom, --- for always doing what you could to help Bob. Please forgive me Bob that I never properly thanked you enough for helping her over the years. For doing your part in the "Dynamic-Duo" that I teased you both about. Together, more often than not, they put aside their differences for the sake of family. When I would visit, he would drive us to stores and wait in the car as we shopped. Then together we would eat at Red Lobster where I would unashamedly say we were there to celebrate their Anniversary. I was so bad. "That's not funny, Michelle!" he would bark back!
For years when Bob was healthy enough to drive to Texas, he and my mom would drive together for the holidays. I would always tease him about "Driving Miss Daisy" and he would roll his eyes with that, "Yeah-right" remark he was famous for.
I will miss those candid moments and am forever Thankful, Grateful, & Blessed that we could do those things together.
Thank you Mom for being
there with him when he passed away - as well as for being with him on and off
the entire time he was in the hospital.
I'm so in awe of that. I am
thankful for Sue as well - for being there for my mom and for Bob where I
couldn't be. I am thankful for your hard
work in trying to prepare a better place for Bob to come home to from the
But God was one step ahead of you I suppose.
In preparing the ultimate place for him to go home to as a believer.
Bob's death was very sudden and unexpected.
I wasn't ready.
It's hard to comprehend how in the blink of an eye everything changes.
On the drive here,
there's a turn-off Bob always reminded me to watch out for or I'd miss it. I found myself nearing that place and
reaching for my phone to call him to make sure I didn't screw up and take the
wrong exit. Again. No matter where I needed to go, Bob would know how to get me there. No matter how many times I got lost, he could get me back home.
That's when it hit me that I'll never get another Birthday call from him, or hear another stupid - er silly - joke, or have my own personal human GPS...
No matter what your family dynamics or dysfunction - find a way to make peace, appreciate the beauty of a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, -- and always call your family members on their birthday.
And above all else, when someone takes the time to call you and tell you a joke, no matter how many times you've heard it, or how not funny it is, - always laugh.
"Functional dysfunction" is how I always thought of our family dynamics...
And you know what ---
that's not a bad thing at all.
I'm a better person because of it.
Thank you Bob.
I love you and will miss you.
Your life mattered and you will not be forgotten.
And God, I know you'll have your hands full with Bob - so if I could give you a tip, when sitting down to play continential rummy, don't let him sit in front of you or you'll never have a chance to buy a card...
Rob - I know that you most of all have had to buckle-up on that roller-coaster more than anyone. Watching you these past few days in the way you have done all you could to honor your Father has been a privilege.
Bob would be so proud of you.
As am I.