Robert Coulton “Bob” Becker, co-owner and manager of Rolling Shoals Farm at Williamsville and well-known area church, school and community leader, died March 11, 2017, at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Siteman Cancer Center. He had been a patient there for nearly nine weeks. He was a life-long resident of Williamsville.
Born on March 19, 1957, he died at age 59 just eight days before his 60th birthday. Bob was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer in 2009.
Surviving are his wife, Pamela Howard Becker; three children, Kaylin (Adam Tilley), Andrea and Coulton; his father, Jim Becker; sister, Dianne Becker; brother, Brian Becker (Toni); nephews, Chris Boy (Andrea), Ben Becker and Jack Becker; great nephew, Eli Boy; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Bob’s mother, Patti Becker, died last December.
Bob started farming at a young age, driving the combine at age 5. He was manager of Rolling Shoals Farm, a Centennial Farm his grandfather, Coulton M. Becker, bought in 1916. Bob farmed with his father, uncles Bill and John Becker (both now deceased), and cousins David, Ken and Johnathon Becker.
Bob was known as a progressive farmer, always looking for better ways of doing things. He used radio transmitters to track cows in heat, planted a field of turnips to add nutrition to the cattle herd’s diet and utilized the latest GPS technology for crop management.
Bob and his wife Pam were known for their musical talent, singing regularly at the First United Methodist Church in Poplar Bluff, where Pam is the music director. They also sang at many area weddings and funerals, and performed in many concerts and annual events such as the Ag Expo, the Williamsville Labor Day Picnic, and the popular Coming Home for Christmas programs at their church. Several years ago, they sang operatic duets on a special program at the annual convention of the Missouri Association of Community Colleges at Branson.
Bob was the valedictorian of the class of 1975 at Greenville High School, where he played basketball and baseball and was active in the marching band, concert band and choir. He attained the honor of Eagle Scout, as did his father and son.
Bob earned a degree in general agriculture from the University of Missouri – Columbia in 1979 with post-graduate studies in agricultural economics. He was a member of the University Singers chorus and also sang in various operas. He was active in the Baptist Student Union, performing in the musical “Godspell.” Bob and his fourth-floor Hudson Hall roommates were the founding members of the Antlers, which began as a unique Mizzou basketball cheering section.
After returning to Williamsville to farm in 1981, Bob was elected to the Greenville R-II Board of Education and served 35 consecutive years, the longest tenure in board history. Greenville Superintendent Todd Porter said, “Mr. Becker was a pillar in our educational community. He truly had the best interest of every child in his heart. He was relentless in his pursuit of providing a world-class education for our students. He understood the importance of extra-curricular as well as co-curricular activities. Even during his illness, he came and served. He is indeed an inspiration to us all. He will be truly missed, not only as a board member but as a kind and caring friend.”
“He was a wonderful man who gave so much of himself to his community and state,” said Brent Ghan, deputy executive director of the Missouri School Boards’ Association, where Bob served for decades. “Bob Becker dedicated much of his life to the well-being of children. He took that service to the regional and state level through the Missouri School Boards’ Association where he served in numerous capacities. Bob was a relentless advocate for children and always urged his colleagues on school boards throughout the state to make decisions based on what was best for the children. His dedication and his good heart were admired by all who served with him. He was the very definition of a servant leader,” said Ghan.
“Servant-leader” is also how Bob is described by the Rev. David Stewart, lead pastor of First United Methodist Church of Poplar Bluff, where Bob attended with his parents even before he was born. He was an active church member throughout his youth and a leader since his young adult years. He served as chairman of the Administrative Council, taught Sunday School, sang countless tenor solos and was a regular member of the Chancel Choir and occasional brass instrument groups. Truly, a pillar of the church, he was a pastor to pastors. “I thought I was Bob Becker’s pastor, but eventually I realized Bob Becker was a pastor to me,” long-time FUMC Pastor Kurt Schuermann was fond of saying.
For more than 25 years, Bob served on the board of Camp Galilee, a non-profit retreat center on Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. Clyde McCracken, chairman of the board of Camp Galilee, said, “Bob faithfully served. Whether pouring concrete, serving as song leader and camp counselor, or advising on administrative matters, Bob’s work was an example and an inspiration of his faith. Bob’s leadership touched lives of all ages and made an impact for Christ.”
Continuing a family tradition, Bob got his private pilot’s license when he was 20, becoming a third-generation aviator. He was an active athlete – water skiing, snow skiing, playing tennis and basketball. His high school coach once remarked, “Bob is the most well-rounded athlete I ever coached.”
Visitation will be at the First United Methodist Church Christian Life Center from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 24. A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 25, in the church Sanctuary. The Chancel Choir will provide music. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations be given to the Music Ministry of First United Methodist Church, 500 N. Main St., Poplar Bluff, MO 63901, or Camp Galilee, 3858 MC 2061, Yellville, AR 72687. Moore Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.