Robert “Bob” Henry Leyse, 94, of Sun Valley, greeted the next world on Nov. 15 in serenity of mind, firmness of resolve. The accompanying photo was taken Oct. 15 at Trail Creek following a hike, which is mentioned to point out Bob enjoyed 94.5 years of unassisted quality of life, unflappably feisty every day. Bob suffered a heart attack on Nov. 1 and wasn’t expected to survive. He rallied, defied expectations, was back home within a week, emailing friends, casually mentioning his heart attack. Early Nov. 13 he suffered another heart attack and was back in the hospital. By evening, in clear mind and at peace and in no pain, he refused all assistance, assured his sons all was well, commenced spiritually preparing for his journey. He lived a vivid life, on his own terms, and chose when to depart.
Bob was born in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, a block from a gorgeous Lake Michigan beach. Early on he was interested in science. As an adolescent, he didn’t buy fireworks, he made gas bombs and nitroglycerine (safely detonated). He obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (before nuclear engineering degrees were offered), then worked as a nuclear engineer, specializing in nuclear safety, at the National Reactor Testing Station (projects included testing fuel plates for USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine), General Electric, and Westinghouse, among other places, and assisted with mitigation of the Three Mile Island accident.
Always adventurous, he performed heat-transfer experiments in the family garages, whether in California or Norway; once encouraged his sons to hoax the neighborhood by constructing a flying saucer from wire and tissue paper (which rose sky-high via heat from a BBQ, attracted a crowd); became a licensed pilot, flying single-engine planes over his neighborhood, gleefully banking deep turns; commenced skydiving at 57 years, pursuing the sport for over 20 years; skied into his 80s and hiked into his 90s.
Bob’s family would like to thank the incomparable St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center staff, in all departments, for unfailingly cheerful and compassionate care, conducted at the highest standards. Bob’s spirited gratitude for every day of life, sense of humor, and propensity to come up with pointed commentary on the affairs of the day, are irreplaceable and will be missed by his family to the end of their days. Requiescet in Pace.