Robert W. Lapp peacefully departed this life on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at the Clement J Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee at the age of 90. He was born on March 16, 1925, in Pershing, Iowa, to Effie (nee Ferree) and Clarence Lapp. When Bob was 11 years old, his family moved to Waukesha, where he lived for 60 years.
Bob graduated from Waukesha High School and was inducted into the Army soon thereafter. He began his service to our country on June 18, 1943 in Milwaukee. Bob’s first assignment was in the 490th Military Police guarding German prisoners in a prisoner of war camp in Ruston, Louisiana.
After about a year, Private First Class Robert Lapp and his unit shipped out to the European theater of WWII. He was with the 3rd Battalion, 232nd Infantry of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. Bob’s unit was near Strasbourg, France, when they were surrounded by German forces and taken prisoner on January 5, 1945.
On April 13, 1945, the prisoners were liberated by Pattons’ 3rd Armored Division. Bob was brought to Resthaven in Waukesha.
The young corporal spent nearly three years in this hospital for veterans, recovering from tuberculosis.
“I’ve often said that I wouldn’t take a million dollars for my wartime experiences, nor would I want to go through them again.”
After Bob was honorably discharged from the Army on November 27, 1945, and released from the hospital.
He went to Carroll College and Milwaukee Business School, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration through the GI Bill. He also married his first wife, Shirley Bridges, and started raising a family that he dearly loved. After a few jobs, Bob worked at RT & E as an accountant. This company later changed its name to Cooper Industries, and finally Eaton Corporation. He retired from there as a senior accountant after 25 years of faithful service.
During these years, Bob enjoyed being a husband, father and grandfather.
Along with his mother-in-law, Charlotte Bridges, he recorded family events with a light bar and eight reel recording. He left a historic recording of many blessed events. Bob was always very organized and labeled just about everything. His children and grandchildren fondly remember shooting pool on the billiard table, and happily raiding the well-stocked soda refrigerator.
Bob was also an amateur magician and delighted in playing tricks on his grandchildren. It was also at this time when Bob developed a regular habit of going to the YMCA with his Waukesha friends. He was an avid bowler, poker player, and liked to play horseshoes.
Bob also participated in charitable work with the Shriners and Freemasons.
Later in life, he married Donna Darnutzer and spent his summers at a private campground called Nature’s Villa. Bob made many more close friends, and went golfing there frequently. Each year Bob participated in the 4th of July parade, and he always carried the black and white POW/MIA flag. The rest of the year was spent at their home in Florida. Some of the gang from Nature’s Villa also relocated there.
Bob and Donna were residents of Florida for 20 years.
Bob was preceded in death by his sisters, Myrna Delsman and Melba Zimmerman, and his brother Jim Lapp.
He is survived by his wife, Donna Lapp (nee Schwabenbauer); his children Pamela (Morgan) Hamm, Robert (Mary) Lapp and William (Cathi) Lapp; grandchildren Maureen Spataro, Maggie Bridges, Michael Hamm, Jaimi Pfau, Josh and Christopher Lapp; as well as seven great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his first wife, Shirley Bridges; his brothers Gene Lapp and Denny Lapp; and many nieces and nephews. Bob is further survived by his stepchildren, Nancy Austiff, Shelly Darnutzer and Michael Darnutzer, as well as his step-grandchildren, Matthew and Graham Austiff, and Kayla Darnutzer.
Bob had a beautiful, full life, filled with many family members, wonderful friends in Wisconsin and Florida, and his Army “band of brothers.” His bright smile, silly jokes and positive attitude will always be remembered. We are honored to have been a part of his life. He was truly a kind and loving gentleman. He will be dearly missed.
Services will be held on Tuesday, Feb 16, at the Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, 237 N. Moreland Blvd., Waukesha. Visitation is from 9:00am to 11:00am, with a memorial service at 11:00am. Interment will be held Wednesday, Feb 17, at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 21731 Spring St., Union Grove, WI 53182. Chapel service with military honors will be held at 11:00am with internment to follow.
In lieu of flowers, the families request that memorial gifts be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project. If you’d like to offer a small tribute to Bob, the next time you’re attending a parade or sporting event, and the American flag is displayed and the national anthem is playing, simply stand up, remove your hat, place it over your heart and maintain a respectful moment of silence (or sing). That’s all that’s necessary to honor Bob, other veterans and service members.
Our families wish to thank all of Bob’s home health nurses, therapists and caregivers. Because of you, he could continue to stay in his home with his loving wife beside him for as long as possible. We’re so very grateful to you!
Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home, Cremation and Pre-Planning
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