Robert Francis Mercier
Robert Francis Mercier, USCG Commander – retired, aged 90, passed away in the morning hours of Aug. 17, 2020, under the care of Hospice services at Gulf Coast Village, Cape Coral, Fla.
He was born July 19, 1930 in Green Bay, Wis., the third son of Elmer and Wilhelmeina “Minnie” (Jansen) Mercier. The family moved to Milwaukee where Bob grew up. It was at Bay View High School that he met the love of his life, Barbara Ihling.
After Elmer’s untimely passing, Bob worked in his father’s stead at the Falk Corp. Foundry in Milwaukee as an apprentice draftsman, until his enlistment in the United States Coast Guard. Robert and Barbara were married in 1951, as Bob embarked on his career as a pilot with USCG.
The couple traveled across the country through the many postings of Bob’s Coast Guard service, which became the second love of his life, always returning home between stations to Wisconsin, and in particular to the cabin on Swamp Lake north of Tomahawk, where Barb’s family cabin has stood since 1907.
Together they raised their five children, four sons; Mark (Leslie) Olympia, Wash., Jeffrey (Sunnie) Tomahawk, Wis., Paul (Christine) Chrystal Beach, Tex., David (Lynn) Wausau, Wis., and one daughter; Beth Goulee (Patrick) Tomahawk. At the time of his death, Bob had 11 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. They, along with the five “originals,” survive. Bob is also survived by many nieces and nephews, one sister-in-law Barbara Ihling, and his neighbors and friends in North Fort Myers, Fla.; most notably his close friends Monty and Deacon Pellerin, who cared for our dad as if he were their family these past several years.
Duck hunting on Swamp Lake was an integral part of time spent at the cabin; indeed Bob and Barb spent their honeymoon there in October of 1951. In conversing with friends and new acquaintances, Bob would say of his family, “We’re crazy for ducks!” That tradition continues today. Bob also enjoyed fishing and small-game hunting, along with deer hunting. Although the latter he more likely tolerated for the benefit of his young sons, along with the camaraderie of hunting camp.
Upon Bob’s retirement from the Coast Guard in 1972, the family settled in Tomahawk, and Bob went to work for the DNR, (where he earned the nickname “Mild Mannered Bob”) flying Fire Patrol, and running simulators to train college students in firefighting techniques. He retired again, and Bob and Barb moved south to Florida to enjoy the more moderate winters. Bob couldn’t stay quit though, and obtained his realtor’s license in Florida, selling real estate for several years.
Bob and Barb continued to “summer at the cabin” for many years, entertaining generations of family with many dinners on the “eating porch,” preceded by cocktails on the “drinking porch,” and wonderful tales told after wards over “Nights at the Round Table.”
Bob was preceded in death by his parents, an infant brother Elmer Jr. “Buddy”, his elder brother Carl, and his loving wife of over fifty years, Barb. Although we are saddened that we could not be with him, we are comforted by the certainty that our mother was standing at the foot of his bed, ready to take his hand as he passed away.
He will be keenly missed by all who knew him, and fondly remembered for his quick wit, gracious manners, and loving kindness. Per his wishes, no formal services will be held. His body will be cremated, and his ashes will be spread at the family cabin, as well as over the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of the United States Coast Guard. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the charity of your choice in Bob’s name.