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Robert Willard Fenner, age 98 of Grand Rapids, Michigan passed away on Saturday, April 8, 2023, in his home at Sentinel Pointe.


Robert was born on January 29, 1925, in North Muskegon, MI, to the late Roy and Agnes, ‘Toots’, (Hoekstra) Fenner. Robert was the first of two children. He attended North Muskegon High School, joined the Navy on September 21, 1943, and married Evelyn G. Hadley on October 18, 1947, in Muskegon.


Bob and Ev moved to Fremont in 1955 and spent the next sixty plus years developing life-long friendships and raising their family of three children. Bob made a career in business and sales and for 35 years managed the State Farm Insurance Agency in Fremont. Bob had a heart for service. He developed a reputation within State Farm for being fair and honest and advocating for his clients. His reputation often benefited his clients in borderline cases where the company covered their loss. Bob was a member of the Lions Club in Fremont. He was very active in many service projects and was the longest serving member of the Club when they moved to Grand Rapids in 2018. A significant part of Bob and Ev’s roots in Fremont was formed as members of the Fremont United Methodist Church. Bob was very involved in the church and volunteered for many roles. He had a strong and life-changing faith which began as a young sailor in the USN. In his later years he would share his powerful faith story with his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and anyone else willing to listen.


Bob loved to participate in sports. His primary sports included tennis, golf, hunting, fishing, bridge, and other card games. He was an enthusiastic competitor, some would say a little over-enthusiastic, but it was just part of his DNA. He continued to play tennis weekly into his early 90s. He not only enjoyed his sports, but he enjoyed teaching what he had learned from the many books and magazines he read on his favorite sports. Bob had an incredible memory and was an amazing storyteller. His stories are legendary within the extended family. Bob loved to be with people. He would engage people for hours talking about family, politics, or the books he was reading. He was famous for reading 1000-page presidential biographies into his 90s.


Robert is survived by their three children, Daniel (Judith) Fenner of Maryland, Robin (Greg) Graham of Grand Rapids, and Tracy (Dave) Sodini of Muskegon, and his sister Ruth Culbertson of Colorado Springs. He is preceded in death by his wife Evelyn of 73 years and his parents Roy and ‘Toots’ Fenner.  Unafraid of death, Robert now most certainly rejoices in the presence of his Lord and Savior.


Cremation arrangements are entrusted to Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Grand Rapids, MI. Memorial contributions in his name may be sent to Gentiva Hospice, 625 Kenmoor Ave SE #115, Grand Rapids, MI, 49546; or Fremont United Methodist Church, 351 East Butterfield, Fremont MI, 49412.

A memorial service will be held at Fremont United Methodist Church on June 10th at 11 AM.


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5 Condolences

  1. Joan & Robert Jansma on May 23, 2023 at 8:50 pm

    To know him was to love him as the saying goes. That was so true he was our insurance agent for years and we worshipped with him at The United Methodist Church of Fremont. You were blessed with a great man not to mention your beautiful mama

  2. Gail McCann Warnement on May 23, 2023 at 9:55 pm

    What a wonderful man as well as Ev was a beautiful lady! My sincere condolences to the family.

    Rest in peace!

  3. Holly & Joe Moon on May 23, 2023 at 10:48 pm

    Bob was a man of great integrity, and he demonstrated it consistently as our insurance agent. His contributions to our Fremont community were significant, plus he was always a pleasure to chat with. What a wonderful human! Rest easy, Bob, and enjoy your eternal reward. You deserve it!!

  4. Steven Smith on May 24, 2023 at 8:18 am

    Bob and Ev were dear friends of my folks — Raymond and Lois Smith — and lived directly across Oak Street from us in Fremont for decades. Bob was an avid hunting partner of my Dad, and he was kind of enough to chip golf balls or play tennis with me when I was a kid over at the football field/tennis courts a block or so away. The Fenners were super people, and Bob was an exceptionally wonderful man. My brother Greg and I offer our condolences to the family.

  5. John and Bonnie (Busch) Woodring on May 24, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Dan, Robin, and Tracy – You are in our prayers.

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