Robert “Bob” James Centala, 88, of Rogers City passed peacefully into the loving arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, February 13, 2017 at MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena. His passing was the result of a stroke suffered February 8, 2017, while doing what he did best: singing joyously with praise to God the Father and the Lord Jesus with the St. Ignatius Choir. He was born in Rogers City to Stanley “Steve” and Irene (Lamb) Centala August 14, 1928. Bob successfully and competently wore many hats during his 88 plus years as a truly faithful creation of Our Father and an amazing gift to this world.
Following his high school education, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy and proudly and bravely served his country as a crew member aboard the U.S.S. Antietam (CV-36), which was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during and shortly after World War II. After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Bob then embarked on what was going to prove to be his first and always foremost vocation – his steadfast devotion to his family, especially his surviving, beloved wife of 66 years, Dolores “Dolly” Centala. Bob and Dolly were married February 24, 1951 with the marriage being sanctified and blessed by the the Rev. Kenneth Povish at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Rogers City. And blessed it was! In addition to his dear wife, Bob is survived by the following loving legacy of 103 souls:
His eight children and their spouses and a former daughter-in-law, Michael (Karen) and former daughter-in-law, Diane Hale, Scott (Nancy), Julie (Gary) Geno, Kirk (Sherry), Andrew (Jane), Roberta (Mark) Viegelahn, Kathy (Mike) Vroman and Robert “Butts” (Niki). His 38 grandchildren, Jessica, Angela (Anthony), Leandra (Jeff), Michael (Vany), Jerilyn “J.J.” (Rod), Jason (Nikki), Nancy (Adam), Joshua (Jenni), Naomi, Joanna “Annie” (Aaron), Joshua, Nikki (Tim), Jessica (Tim), Jennifer “Jenny”, Mikailah (Blake), Aaron (Sheila), Andrea (Towan), Jocelin (Greg), Andrew, Gabrielle (Tom), Zachary, Dylan, Sierra (Lane), Casey (Vicki), Corey (Cat), Kyle (Emily), Kristina, Erica, Jenna (Matt), Dana (Bernard), Cheyenne, Brooke (Kevin), Robert “R.J.”, Leah, Marrissa, Dakota, Hailey and Allison. His 47 great-grandchildren, Logan, Jalen, Mason, Isaiah, Lucy, Ethan, Ezra, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Braylon, Grace, Makenna, Michael, Ricardo (Ricki), Eden (Karl), Brianna (Ben), Kylee, Makenna, Evan, Hally, Estella, Guinevere, Beckett, Olivia, Matthew, Megan, Jacob, Isaac, Ainsley, Connor, Ava, Mya, Mia, Emma, Lila, Chloe, Clarah, Aiden, Brooke, Kirra, Jack, Ariel, Xavier, Paisley, Jaidyn. Kyler and Harper. And finally, his one and only great-greatgrandchild, Ezekiel. Bob also leaves behind his only surviving sister, Betty (Herb) Derry; and his nieces, Michelle (Tom) and Jackie. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Stanley and Irene; and a sister, Suzanne “Suzie” Centala.
To support his amazingly prolific procreation, Bob worked at various times throughout his career in the following: plant worker at Stoneport; breadtruck driver for Sunbeam; and finally, as a merchant marine, retiring as a chief engineer for the Great Lakes Fleet out of Calcite. Bob also was a devout and faithful member of St. Ignatius Catholic Church, having sang as part of the choir there since the 1950s. He also was a proud member and past post commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3209 as well as being a life member of Post 607. Finally, Bob was a loyal and faithful 4th Degree and 3rd Degree member of the local Knights of Columbus (K of C), having also served as proud member of the Color Corps and a past grand knight. As if those activities were not enough for the average man, in his spare time, especially after his retirement in 1990, Bob loved to golf, play spitzer, and socialize with his many friends at The Club, Greka’s, Pinewoods and the canteen at VFW Post 607. But undoubtedly, as everyone who ever knew him will most certainly attest, Bob’s greatest activity and passion was his music, especially singing. In his early years, Bob played the trumpet with several local bands. However, Bob was best known for his beautiful singing voice. Locally, he was always a favorite for his golden-throated renditions of “Ave Maria” during many Masses and funerals and “The Star-Spangled Banner” for countless wrestling meets and other athletic events at Rogers City High School events, where he was affectionately known and will be forever remembered as “Gramps.” In summary, Bob lived a truly full and enriched life and really blessed all those he came into contact with with his compassion, wonderful sense of humor, and his impassioned and melodic singing. He will be missed but we will forever love him.
Visitation was at the Beck Funeral Home Wednesday, February 15, from 3-8 p.m., with rosary by the K of C at 6:30 p.m., followed by military honors accorded by the Rogers City VFW Post 607, and the parish wake service at 7 p.m. Visitation will continue at the funeral home today (Thursday) from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m. Mass will be at St. Ignatius Catholic Church Thursday at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka officiating. Interment will take place at Mt. Calvary Catholic Cemetery in the spring. Memorials may be given to the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, St. Jude Hospital, St. Ignatius School or the 4th Degree Chalice Fund in memory of Robert Centala. Online condolences may be addressed through www.beckfuneralhome.org.