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Robert "Bob" Bicknell, loving husband and father of four children, passed away peacefully at home on June 10, 2023, at the age of 84 in Renton, WA, after a courageous battle against cancer.
Born December 17, 1938, in Everett, WA, to Billie and Vernon Bicknell, Bob was the fourth of six children. He lived his entire life in Washington State, residing in various locations around the greater Puget Sound Region. Bob told many stories from his childhood, loving to share about his schooling and early church experiences with all who would listen. He particularly liked to talk about his youth leaders who were formative in his teenage years, helping him grow in his faith while teaching him to have fun by playing the occasional practical joke or two.
After graduating from Franklin High School, Bob attended Evangel College in Springfield, Missouri, and Seattle Pacific College, after which he joined the Army. He learned how to repair and build radio equipment during his service time and was promoted to a Specialist 5. Honored to be a United States Veteran, Bob always took pride in his military service and loved to attend the Memorial Day events at Tahoma National Cemetery.
During leave from the Army, where he was stationed in Georgia, he hitchhiked home to Seattle and met the love of his life, Jackie Sartain. He immediately felt that spark and knew she was the girl for him! Stranded together during the famous Columbus Day Storm of 1962, it wasn't long afterwards that they decided to marry, and on April 20th the following year, they became Mr. and Mrs. Bicknell, and enjoyed more than 60 years together!
Another life goal that Bob had was to become a father. That dream was realized when his oldest daughter Tracy was born, then Bob Jr., Tarri, and Randy. As a dad, Bob always wanted to create fun experiences for his children. He would spend time with his kids swimming, camping, coaching basketball, and various other activities. One fond memory was how Bob would take turns with each of his children Saturday mornings on outings for a special dad/child date with hot cocoa at the Golden Steer, followed by other fun activities according to each child's interests. Hot summer nights would have the occasional "dad" surprise dinner of strawberry shortcake or vanilla wafer pudding.
As a young father, Bob worked hard to provide for his family so Jackie could be a stay-at-home mother. He learned the art of roofing and business and quickly developed a technique that helped him move faster than any other roofer who was part of the crew working on jobs together. This technique led to his nickname of Rapid Robert and eventually became the inspiration for his business name of Robert’s Rapid Roofing, which he founded and later co-owned with his two sons.
Bob was the very first customer at Washington Cedar and Supply, and his reputation was such that he never had to advertise, as his many clients would refer him to others, keeping Robert’s Rapid Roofing plenty busy. So many homes and businesses around the Puget Sound Area were roofed by Bob that it was always fun on drives to have him point out the various structures he had worked on. Houses that he had roofed were often from prominent Seattle and Eastside neighborhoods, and he would take great pleasure on the occasion that some of these homes were featured in magazines. Bob's experience led him to repair a thatched roof in the Philippines, put on a tile roof in Japan, build homes in Haiti, and put the roof on the historic Painted Lady Home in Bellingham.
In 2000, one of the greatest joys of Bob's life happened when he became a Papa to his first of eight granddaughters. Papa spent time providing experiences for his granddaughters with fun events like roller-skating, playing board games, attending Mariner's games and letting them style his hair; there was nothing Papa wouldn't do for his eight girls. Even in the past several weeks before he passed away, he would play virtual hide-and-seek with his two youngest granddaughters via Facetime when he couldn't be with them in person. As Papa, he loved each one uniquely and would go out of his way to make sure they knew how much he loved them.
Bob felt a unique and special calling from God and served as a pastor for two different churches and as an elder for other churches he attended over the years. He loved reading scripture and sharing God's love with others. Even at the end of his life, he could spend hours discussing the Bible and all God had done. His heart for ministry took him to the Philippines, Haiti, and India to help others. He often played the trombone at church and led worship. In one inspired worship service, God gave Bob the music and lyrics for the song "Instrument of Worship." Bob was pleased when a famous evangelist, Iverna Tompkins, took the song all around the world, helping it become a very popular worship song.
Bob spent his entire life focusing on caring for and loving others. Always the one to strike up a conversation first, he looked to connect with individuals who might need cheering up or a kind word to make sure they felt seen and heard. Even when he was sick and couldn't work out, he would visit the gym and talk to the friends he had made. He also had great fun going to the local McDonald’s every morning at 6 am to drink coffee and play cribbage with friends. More than anything, Bob always talked about how compassion and empathy should always inform how we think and interact with others.
Bob was preceded in death by his mom Billie, father, Vernon, and brother Gene. He is survived by his loving wife of more than 60 years, Jackie, and children Tracy Laurie (James), Bob Bicknell Jr. (Janice), Tarri Williams (Ken), and Randy Bicknell (Courtney); granddaughters Alyssa Bicknell, Sarah Bicknell, Madison Laurie, Mikal Williams, Rachel Bicknell, Fiona Williams, Shaye Bicknell, and Macy Bicknell. He is survived also by sisters Verna Pratt, Kay Williamson, and Berkely Clark (Richard); brother Don Bicknell (CeCe); sister-in-law Elaine (Gene); plus numerous other family members.
In place of flowers, donations can be made to the New Life Church Maple Valley Building Fund. Bob and Jackie have attended the Renton campus for the past several years, and the church's goal of loving and giving back to the surrounding communities keeps in line with Bob's heart and passion for people.
Bob will be buried with military honors at Tahoma National Cemetery on Friday, June 23, 2023. A public memorial will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, June 24, at Faith Church: 25636 140th Ave SE Kent, WA 98042 - reception to follow.
The family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to friends and family for their love, support, and condolences during this difficult time. The family would also like to thank the nursing team at the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center in Auburn, plus all of Bob's other various care providers.
Bob has done his work. He has lived a complete life that any smart person would envy. He is now experiencing his reward!
11:00 am, June 24, 2023
25636 140th Ave SE
Kent, WA 98042