Obituary: Robert G. Soper

Posted at 7:51 AM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2018-08-10 11:28:39-04

Robert G. Soper

June 22, 1933 – August 21, 2017

As the moon moved away from the sun at the end of the eclipse on Monday, August 21st, beloved father, husband, and all-around social chairman, (Bob) Robert Gardiner Soper “Sope”, “kicked the bucket”, “woke up on the wrong side of the grass”, and “bought the farm”.

Sope came into the world as the firstborn to Elizabeth G. and Dr. Gail R. Soper on “Twenty-two June Thirty-three” in Evanston, Illinois.  While born and raised primarily in Evanston, the summers spent at his maternal grandfather’s “Home Ranch” south of Anaconda in the Big Hole Valley left a deep and lasting impression, and throughout his entire life was where he always felt most at home.

Upon graduating from Evanston Township High School, he attended college in Greencastle, Indiana as a brother at the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from DePauw University.  He then joined the Navy, and spent two years touring the world as the ship’s newspaper editor on the USS Wasp.  Upon receiving his honorable discharge, Sope went to work selling life insurance for the Washington National Insurance Company in the Los Angeles area where he met the love of his life, Jane “Chris” Christensen.  Sope told her on their first date that, “We could have the skinniest kids on the block.”

Sure enough, a few years after Sope and Chris wed, their first son, Peter Christian Soper, was delivered with the help of Sope’s uncle, ObGyn Dr. Verne Soper, at Glendale Memorial Hospital.  Another year passed and Washington National transferred Sope to work from the home office back in Evanston where they were close to his parents and his brother, Tom’s, family. 

The Soper family expanded in Evanston with the addition of Robert Gardiner, Jr. and Charles Vern, born in 1964 and 1968, respectively.

Following the unrest surrounding the Democratic Convention in 1968, Sope decided he didn’t want to raise his kids in the chaos of the Chicago area and a prolonged road trip with the family during the summer of 1969 led him to decide that a return to the family roots in Bozeman was the solution, so in December 1970 they moved into their new house at 1011 South Tracy.  A couple of years later they moved around the corner to the house at 102 W. Cleveland where Pete, Robbie, and Charlie had plenty of room to run, play, and fight. 

While he continued to do some work in the insurance business, Bozeman gave Sope opportunities to work in other fields such as managing the Montana Winter Fair, which he did for several years. One of Sope’s longer working positions was serving several years as Secretary for the Elks Club BPOE #463, after which he worked part-time in airport security and volunteered at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

The Soper family enjoyed many years as members of Riverside Country Club where golf, trap, tennis, and the swimming pool kept them entertained throughout the summers. 

Sope was a huge fan of classical music, and as such became an active supporter of the Bozeman Symphony and Intermountain Opera.

Upon retirement, Sope continued to actively engage with the Elks, Riverside C.C., and so many of the long-time friends he had made in Bozeman and around the world.

Sope and Chris went on several international adventure trips with family and friends, later wintering in Arizona and all the time creating many cherished memories which he so loved sharing – telling stories to anyone who would listen.

When his dear wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, their travel opportunities began to fade.  Before Chris left us, Sope took up residence at the Bozeman Lodge where he was reunited with many friends and enjoyed something of a renaissance in his social life, with more than one person proclaiming him the “Mayor of the Bozeman Lodge”.

While his memory faded a bit and confusion began to set in towards the end, he never lost his charm, sense of humor, or infectious smile.

Sope was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Thorne Gray; sister-in-law, Julie Soper; nephew, Tommy E. Soper; and his dear wife, Chris (Jane).  He is survived by his brother, Dr. Tom (Joan) Soper; sister, Sally Gray; and sons, Peter of Livingston, MT, Bob Jr. of Portland, OR, and Charlie (Heidi) of Bozeman; along with numerous nieces and nephews. 

The family would like to acknowledge and thank the Bozeman Lodge staff and management for so many years of loving care and assistance given to Sope – “The place is full of widows!”.

A gathering in his memory will take place at Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service on Saturday, September 16 at 11:00 A.M., with a reception to follow.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.