Robert H. Marks
September 23, 1938 – June 17, 2022
CELEBRATION OF LIFE: Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 11am at Rejoice! Lutheran Church, 2556 S. 138th St. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to University of Nebraska Foundation/Pancreatic Cancer Center of Excellence Fund; Douglas County Historical Society; or Omaha Symphony Association.
To view a live broadcast of the Service, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.
Robert Howard Marks, known fondly as “Bob,” age 83, of Elkhorn, Nebraska, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 17, 2022, after a brief and courageous bout with pancreatic cancer.
Bob was born September 23, 1938, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to the delight of his parents Harold and Grace. He grew up with his younger twin siblings, John and Jane. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he earned a degree in Business with honors in 1960. He served our nation in the U.S. Air Force National Guard from 1961-1967. Bob began his professional life in banking and accounting prior to starting with Mutual of Omaha in 1975, where he spent a loyal 26-year career. There he progressed to the role of Vice President of Corporate Taxation, became known as a well-respected leader, and developed many of his dearest friendships.
Bob married his loving wife Georgene “Gena” Speckmann of Madison, Wisconsin on October 22, 1976, in Bellevue, Nebraska, which they called home for decades. Their daughter Laura was born in 1980, joining older siblings Rob and Mitchie to complete their blended family. They took many adventures beyond their beloved Nebraska, taking in the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park, exploring the wonders of Europe on multiple occasions, and snowbirding in Phoenix, where Bob adored the desert heat.
Bob was a diehard Husker football and volleyball fan as shown by the signature Nebraska ballcaps he often wore. Baseball also played a special role in his life. He was a perennial star spectator at the College World Series and an epic-level fantasy league player in the longstanding UBL League, exclusive to the Mutual of Omaha community, the Marks Family League of Lincoln, and the Kumquat League, which resulted in the creation of his legendary team the Magnificent Reynaldos (“Mag Naldos” for short).
Bob passionately enjoyed music, both live and recorded, ranging from classical to the Swedish band ABBA. He was well known for his strategic and competitive nature while playing cards and board games. Even the most challenging jigsaw puzzles were no match for Bob. He never appeared on Jeopardy, yet he likely would have been a champion if he had. He enjoyed ice cream and had a smart way of buying flavors no one else in the family liked so he would have an ample supply for himself.
Bob kept meticulous records indicating that he read more than 2,000 books in his lifetime. He also curated a one-of-a-kind collection of 6,000 historic Omaha postcards which served as the inspiration for his dream job at age 81, researching and writing for The Omaha World-Herald as Sunday columnist “The Omaha History Detective.” The popularity of his column led to his final labor of love, his upcoming book, Omaha History Detective: Mysteries, Myths & Memories From Our Last 220 Years, edited by Chris Christen and designed by Christine Zueck-Watkins. He passed within hours of signing the contract to finalize his book deal.
His prior Omaha history accomplishments included compiling “Post Cards by Bostwick,” a special exhibit for the Western Heritage Museum (now The Durham Museum) where he served on the Curatorial Council and the Board of Directors. He also contributed significantly to the writing and editing of Their Man in Omaha: The Barker Collection, 1860-1876, published in 2006, and Omaha and Council Bluffs, Yesterday & Today, published in 2008.
Prior to formally publishing his works, he often wrote humorous pieces such as skits and poems to entertain family and friends. His annual Christmas letters dating every year back to 1984 are also worthy of publication. He always kept a crisply sharpened #2 pencil nearby to capture his thoughts.
Bob was an immediately likeable and incredibly witty gentleman. He took his work, hobbies, and relationships quite seriously, yet he did not take himself too seriously. He saw the world as a wonderful place and spent every day until his last making his “Marks” upon it. In his final email blast to family and friends, he shared his diagnosis and stated “…it would please me if you would all treat each other with kindness and respect.” His own words exemplify the dignity, wisdom, and generosity that he represented to everyone who had the honor of knowing him.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents Robert Harold and Grace Pegler Marks. He is survived by his wife of 45 years Gena; children Robert Marks, Michelle Marks Payne, and Laura Marks O’Brien (Scott); brother John Marks (Kay); sister Jane Cannaday (Roy); granddaughters Ellie and Phoebe Payne and Julianne O’Brien; several well-loved nieces and nephews; and many dear friends. His late shih-tzus Ping Pong and Lola were also special companions to Bob.
Robert H. Marks will be greatly missed, yet he will live forever in our hearts and within countless stories and memories. For now, he leaves you with a tune:
“So long for a while,
I can’t be wrong for a while,
So long to your OHD,
And the yarns that you’ve drawn out of me.
-Bob’s lyrics sung to the tune of TV’s “Lucky Strike Hit Parade” theme song