My last 70 years

Bob Warnke Bob Warnke, 70, is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Organizational Administration and Leadership student from Oshkosh, Wis. Warnke wanted to go back to college to fulfill one of his goals, and to show his three children he could do it too. Warnke is also a Winnebago County Board member.

Hello, My name is Robert Warnke; however I only use that name on legal documents. Please refer to me as Bob.

I have been asked to work on the blog page and to talk of my life experiences and last five years at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

You may be surprised to know that I am a little older than most nontraditional students at UW Oshkosh. I turned 70 in November, but I feel 30 most of the time. I guess I will start with the reason why I am in college and not sitting in my easy chair.

I have three very intelligent children who all graduated from UW-Madison. I have always wanted to get a bachelor’s degree ever since I graduated from the Fox Valley Technical College Oshkosh campus in 1965 with an associate degree in marketing. The problem is that life got in the way and I am sure this is the case with many nontraditional students.

The day I graduated in 1965 I went home to find a letter from Uncle Sam requesting my presence in the military. I decided to join the U.S. Navy because I always wanted to go out to sea. They accommodated me and I spent a lot of time on destroyers. When I was discharged I went back to Oshkosh where I was born, because I really do love Oshkosh.

I did the usual as most of you all have done. I got a job and a girl, got married, bought a home, took out a mortgage and after seven years the little guys came along. Three to be exact — two boys and one girl.

It seems like life never stopped all of these years. I worked at a company called Leach Company for 37 years. I had a very good job there as the company driver. I loved that job. The duties were many, I did the bank deposits, picked up parts all over the state and sometimes beyond. I would pick up our customers and much more.

This job gave me time to do my things on the side. I started buying houses and fixing them up, and my wife and I went into the rental business. Then we went into the Laundromat business, (I don’t recommend that one), then the used furniture business — that was fun.

We owned, and still own, a small resort, the J.B. Resort, in Door County, where we have cottages that we lease in the summer. There is never a vacancy, and we are going into three generations of families that rent from us.

I also have been a realtor for Carol Williams and The Premier Group for 15 years. I still maintain a real estate license and do referrals with other realtors.

Then I ran for the Winnebago County Board 12 years ago and I recently was elected to my sixth term. I really do enjoy being part of the county board, and I am getting more and more involved every year.

I am chairmen of the Veterans Commission and soon to be chairmen of the Aviation Committee, and I serve on the Highway Committee and three state committees for the Wisconsin County Association.

When I retired from active real estate I decided to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree in Organizational Administration and Leadership. The main reason is because I wanted to, and the other reason is to show my three kids the “ol man can do it too!”  One more thing to mention, I have been married to my lovely wife Beth for going on 44 years.

The last thing I have to say is this is my last semester I will be graduating in May. It has been a long road but it has been worth every class I took.

Stay cool.
Bob

9 Responses to “My last 70 years”


  • You have worked hard while giving back to your community. Celebrate your sweat equity upon graduation this May-Congratulations!

  • Inspirational.
    You ROCK, Bob Warnke.

  • Very inspirational. Congrats! “Organizational Administration and Leadership” – looks like EAA could use you.

  • David and Susan Albrecht

    Bob, You can be very proud of your accomplishments and your service to Winnebago County!!!!!

  • I would have loved to see the notes you may have crafted and posted so carefully and lovingly around your laundromat about not washing items soiled with oil or other volatile or insoluble substances. Cheers, Mr. Warnke! I think I’m finally getting my Bachelor’s at the end of this semester, as well!

  • Its men like you that hold the city of OSHKOSH together.I say hats off to you BOB WARNKE keep up the good work. RON BENNETT

  • Your the man BOB WARNKE.The city of OSHKOSH need more people like you to keep the wheels moving forward.

  • Very encouraging! Keep on show the young we can all do the thing.

  • Congratulations Dad! You’ve come a long way from your glory days playing hooky. Your rags-to-riches life story is a testament to the “hard work pays off” rhetoric of America. To think you came from a dirt-floor basement to meeting with a U.S. Senator in Washington D.C. last week is astounding. And yes you certainly deserved to retire into a life of fishing, golfing, Budweiser, and Oprah. But the fact that you chose not to means you continue to be a role model. And the rest of us will be compelled to try to keep up with you long after. Shit I guess this means I have to become a Doctor now…Thanks Dad.

Leave a Reply


Copyright 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System