June 8, 2019
Robert Eugene “Bob” Smith, passed away peacefully in Hudson, Wisconsin at the age of 90 on June 3, 2019.
Bob is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Dorothy “Dodie” Smith; children Bobette (John) Shiffler, Arlington, Texas; Jack Smith, Key West, Florida; Peter Smith, New York, New York and Daniel (Gretchen) Smith, Mahtomedi, Minnesota; siblings David Richardson, Hudson, Wisconsin; Bob Richardson, Spring Valley, Wisconsin; Donald Richardson, Hudson, Wisconsin; Susan Reese, River Falls, Wisconsin; and William Richardson, Spring Valley, Wisconsin; grandchildren Aaron Shiffler, Dallas, Texas; Chrystal Shiffler, Arlington, Texas; Evan Smith, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Isaac Smith, Mahtomedi, Minnesota; Caroline Smith, Mahtomedi, Minnesota; and great-grandchild Dylan Coulter, Arlington, Texas.
Bob was born April 8, 1929, in River Falls, Wisconsin, to Helen Smith. Bob started life as an only child just months prior to the start of the Great Depression and was raised as the son of a single mother. In 2016, at the age of 87, Bob finally discovered the identify of his deceased biological father, Lee Richardson, through the miracle of DNA testing.
In addition to finding his father, Bob was able to meet his five living Richardson siblings, who embraced Bob and his family as if they had been together a lifetime. Bob’s newfound family brought joy and closure to his lifelong quest to learn the missing pieces of his life story.
Bob was raised in River Falls, together with David Smith, whom Bob considered his brother. David, his wife, Donna Mae, and their five daughters are among those Bob cherished and considered his closest family.
Bob graduated from River Falls High School in 1947 and attended college at University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
In 1950, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy and married his high school sweetheart, Dodie Halvorsen. They were stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and eventually transferred to the U.S. Naval Air Station, Key West, where Bob specialized in public relations, working with the local newspaper and WKWF, the Key West radio station. It was this experience in Key West that would forever change his life, setting him on a career path he would follow for the next 65 years in broadcasting.
Upon completion of his commitment to the U.S. Navy, Bob went to work for Newman, Stern and Mandell Public Relations in Miami Beach.
After a few years, Bob and Dodie returned to River Falls and Bob went to work for WAVN in Stillwater, Minnesota. By 1960, Bob decided to strike out on his own and build WIXK Radio in New Richmond, Wisconsin from the ground up. WIXK AM would become the first of seven radio stations that Bob would own and operate in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida over the course of his lifetime.
Fondly known as “Radio Bob” to residents throughout Western Wisconsin and the St. Croix Valley over the past 60-plus years, Bob was a humble, self-made man with a celebrated sense of humor, high integrity and always had an interesting, true story to share.
Some might say that his success in business and life might have changed an average person, but Bob was never average and success didn’t change him, the way he lived his life and/or his small-town values. Bob was a public figure, but a very private man who always had a kind word and helping hand for a stranger.
He was an immensely generous man who supported many charitable causes, including the Mayo Clinic, various Humane Societies and was quick to support a local cause with his radio stations or personal gifts.
He will be remembered for leading an adventurous life, unwavering support for his family, many friends and fellow man.
Bob was known to be a man of the highest integrity and character. Within his close circle of lifelong friends, he was also known to be quite a character with a quick wit, exceptional sense of humor and a source of many great stories.
Bob’s success in small market radio broadcasting lead him to an audience with two very different presidents of the United States. First interviewing John F. Kennedy in River Falls on the 1960 campaign trail and later in life as a dinner guest, with Dodie, at the Kennebunkport home of President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbra Bush.
Beloved by his family and friends, Bob was an accomplished golfer, successful restaurateur, music aficionado, lover of animals and was always up for a long road trip. He was a lifelong member at Ezekiel Lutheran Church in River Falls.
A very special thanks go to Bob’s niece, Kim Stapleton, Director of Nursing at Red Cedar Canyon and the entire staff at Red Cedar Canyon for the exceptional love, care and dignity provided to Bob while in residence.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Gregory’s Gift of Hope,1374 Highway 65, New Richmond, WI 54017 or Coco’s Heart Dog Rescue, 126 2nd Street, Hudson, WI 54016. Condolences can be sent to the Bob Smith family, c/o Bakken Young, PO Box 431, River Falls, WI 54022.