Robert D. Fernau

Robert D. Fernau

Robert D. Fernau

Robert Durwood Fernau, 82, died Nov. 6, 2019, surrounded by family in St. Joseph.

He was born July 13, 1937, in Saginaw, Mich., was the son of German immigrants, Leo and Margaret Fernau.

In the 1950s, Bob served in the U.S. Navy as a radio operator in the South Pacific. After the Navy, he continued to enjoy traveling and communicating with people all over the world via ham radio (W8NDG). In May 1962, Bob married Cynthia (Johnston), raising four children in Stevensville. An electrical engineer for Heath Co., he designed the first kit microwave oven and many other projects, some even featured in the Smithsonian.

A self-taught musician, Bob became proficient on the accordion. Playing Slovenian-style polka and waltz favorites, he entertained Midwest polka fans with his bands, the Polkatones and the Bob Fernau Band. Bob also had the pleasure of playing with Frankie Yankovic when he toured the Great Lakes region. Bob was an amazing storyteller, spinning tall tales that to this day are legendary amongst his grandchildren. He will be most remembered for his role of Dad and Papa.

Surviving are his wife, Cindy; sister, Susan; children, Becky (Kent), Bob, Fred (Tina) and Libby (Mark); 13 grandchildren; and 21 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 24, at the D.A.N.K., with visitation from 2-3 p.m. Funeral arrangements and cremation have been lovingly handled by grandson, Samuel Wallace, and Gorden's Funeral Residence of Allegan. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Blue Star Mothers Chapter 177 or Hospice at Home.