Michele still remembers the first words Bob typed to her.
“Typed” because the first words were an instant message.
Michele, who was 38 at the time, was working for her and parents and had just submitted a special use permit to the fire station for approval.
Bob responded with a “Howdy, neighbor.” Michele and Bob had gone to school together; he had been a grade ahead of her, she said.
Soon after the first message, Michele and Bob began dating, she said.
“I remember when I first met him,” she recalled. “He was like this big giant Teddy bear, so gentle, so sweet, so full of compassion. His needs were down at the bottom. Whatever anyone needed, their needs came first.”
Michele said Bob often gave people whatever they need: money, a meal, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. And he "went after causes" with the same zeal, she added.
“He was just there,” Michele said. “And he treated his employees the same way. I’d heard from firefighters that his door was always open, that he always listened…he could sense what people needed.”