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Friday April 27th, 2018

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Friday April 27th, 2018

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Dr. Robert Butler Whitcomb

Robert Butler Whitcomb was born on December 7, 1921, in Scipio, IN, to Clifford and Marguerite (Butler) Whitcomb. When Robert was six years old, the family suffered the fate of many in the Great Depression and lost their home and business. They borrowed a truck and moved to Cincinnati, OH. Robert attended school and graduated from Western Hills High School. He earned a scholarship to attend the College of Music in Cincinnati (later a part of the University of Cincinnati.) After the bombing at Pearl Harbor (on his 20th birthday,) Robert was soon drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corp. He served as Navigator on a B-17 Bomber Crew stationed in England. On his 20th mission, his aircraft was shot down over Cologne. Robert was one of two survivors of a crew of 11. He was captured and held prisoner in several locations, most of the time spent at Stalag IIIA Luckenwalde Prison Camp near Berlin. After his liberation, he returned to the States. In June, 1947, he obtained his Bachelor of Music Degree in Cincinnati. He later achieved his Masters of Music Degree in Cincinnati and taught music at the Culver Military Academy in Culver, IN. He also taught for a time in Powell, WY, and Las Cruces, NM, where he met Lois White. The couple was married on August 22, 1953, in Kansas City, MO. Robert taught at South Dakota State University in Brookings South Dakota. He later earned a scholarship from General Electric to attend the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he earned his Doctorate in Music Composition. His career brought his family to Western Washington State University in Bellingham, WA, for five years. In August, 1968, Robert took a job as Professor of Music at Southwest State University in Marshall. He taught for 19 years, retiring in 1987. Robert continued performing and composing. His work has been performed nationally and internationally including at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. His music has been published internationally and is held in 20 University Libraries in the U.S. and abroad. In 2009, he donated a copy of each of his compositions to the SMSU, Striegel Archives. He was passionate about his work. Following his retirement, the couple enjoyed traveling nationally and internationally. He also looked forward to his reunions with the 305th Bomb Group of the U.S. Army Air Corp. Robert died on Thursday, April 19, 2018, at the Avera Morningside Heights Care Center in Marshall. He is survived by his wife, Lois, of Marshall, son David Keith (and Jan) Whitcomb of Spokane, WA, grandchildren Amelia (and Kevin) Louden and Owen Whitcomb, son Stephen Kent (and Arlene) Whitcomb of Larkspur, CA, son Thomas Grant Whitcomb of Golden Valley, MN, nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Hiram.

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