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Page last updated on July 13, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Robert Lee Loviscek. US Marine. Firefighter. Union President. Coach. Friend. Son, brother, uncle. Husband. Father. Bob was a lot of things to a lot of people. To an awful lot of us gathered here, in sorrow. And in sweet memory.

I’m John Hamilton, Mayor of Bloomington, where Bob lived during the last 20 years. I was a colleague of Bob’s. A friend of Bob’s. A recipient of Bob’s generosity and big smiles, laughter and golf lessons, and personal support. And political advice, like, I can imagine him saying, with a wry smile: “Hey Mayor, don’t screw up this funeral service - let the professionals do their thing.” I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to bring some words personally, and on behalf of the Bloomington community Bob served so well.

A wise man once said if you want to understand what makes a community really work, what holds it together and makes it special, look for the love notes that people give the community. Author Peter Kageyama meant look for actions, big or small, that people take to show special care – it could be a little garden in a forgotten corner lot, or a coach bringing a team to a pool on a day off, or a thank you note to someone having a tough month, or a volunteer frying fish for a fundraiser. These love notes, big and small, are what delight people, surprise people, win people over, help people get through. They help everyone feel loved, and cared about. And create community.  

Do you know anyone who has given more love notes than Bob Loviscek? How many of us here can name one of those actions, or a dozen, or a hundred, that Bob took, to make people feel welcome, cared for, seen, loved?

Chief Moore said Bob was the first person to welcome him to town six years ago. Said no one should be alone at Motel 6 their first night – took him out to eat. Lee Chapman called Bob a “yes man,” always said yes to a request. Like running the 4th Street Festival cookout, raising more than $120,000 for the Shop with a Firefighter program. I personally know Bob to have said yes to so many requests – so many times he saw a chance to help and stepped up. You all have your memories. 

Bob was a firefighter, through and through, a volunteer for four years while in the Marines, then 25 years as a professional firefighter. He served as President of Bloomington Metropolitan Professional Firefighters Local 586. And numerous offices in district and state organizations. 

He saved lives. He organized training. He raised standards. He served the public without hesitation or expectations.  

Bob led the honor guard for years. He personally organized and led more than 100 funerals for retired or active firefighters. [so you know he would mean it saying don’t screw this one up.]

And as I know most of you know, Bob gave this community a very special love note related to 9/11. That terrible day was particularly devastating to the firefighter community. Particularly heroic. And Bob believed in heroes. Human heroes. Everyday heroes. 

It is very fitting that we are here at Ivy Tech, and thank you for hosting this ceremony, here just steps from a memorial that Bob made happen. I had the privilege of attending quite a few 9/11 memorial services sitting next to Bob – watching him embody the dignity and honor of those ceremonies. Watching him steer our eyes and our hearts and our memories to the beam he brought back from Ground Zero, now enshrined in a beautiful memorial to the victims of 9/11, and the values they lived.

Bob’s personal connection to that memorial and that event speaks eloquently about his loyalty and sense of honor to those who serve. A personal commitment to do whatever it takes, from driving to New York to pick up that beam – with his family – to inviting speakers every year, to a thousand little things, all adding up to one more ongoing beautiful love note to this community.

Firefighters and first responders are and always will be at the heart of that memorial and that ceremony. We’ll hear more from that community today. 

Let me end with non-firefighter Bob. I met Bob through politics, before I was mayor. Bob as a union leader was naturally involved in politics, and he ran a Political Action Committee. I’ve met a lot of people in politics. Bob was one of those in politics for absolutely the right reasons. Not for himself, or for power or for acclaim or for jollies – though he did have fun. Bob was in politics to get good things done for real people. Mostly firefighters whom he represented. Better conditions. Better equipment. Better safety. Better retirements. And also for the whole community – for more people to have better lives due to his efforts. Simple really – Bob was in politics to help people. Period. One of the good ones. 

And my wife Dawn and I were remembering non-firefighter Bob – how he was SO fun to be with – how he just couldn’t not smile, and make you feel better, and optimistic, and hopeful, and glad to be around. How Bob always left you feeling better after you were with him. That big smile and laugh – infectious, unstoppable. You couldn’t help but be a better you after hanging out with Bob. 

I don’t know anyone who so wonderfully combined a great, deep, palpable dignity, at times, with also just gut-busting great humor and spirit. Most of us can’t carry just even one of those well. Bob carried and lived them both beautifully. 

This beautiful man wasn’t with us long enough. He is gone too soon. A lot of us are hurting. We expect and we plan for more time. But Bob lived such a deep and wide life. He blessed those of us around him. We are broken-hearted to lose him. But so blessed to have walked with him.

“Loviscek” - a great name. Several of us might have trouble spelling it just right. But we know it starts with Love. [without the e, I know]. Bob’s name, Bob starts with love…. And he ends with love.

To the family, the extended family, and especially to Maddie, Robbie and Kari, Bob couldn’t stop talking about you and sharing how much he loved you and was so proud of you. Carry that with you. Feel the ripples and echoes of his care and pride and love, come right back to you, surrounding you always. To firefighters and first responders, feel the honor and respect he embodied and cultivated, in our thanks for your service, and in embracing one of your own and each other. To our community, let us take lessons from this life, this good man, this loyal friend and dedicated public servant. Keeping our eyes on the prize. Making things better day by day. Laughing along the way. Saying yes to help. And taking care of each other with fierceness and loyalty and love. Rest in peace, dear friend Bob Loviscek.

As a salute from the City you served so well Bob, and to family and friends, today, July 13, 2022, is officially proclaimed to be Bob Loviscek day in Bloomington, Indiana. Amen.


More information about Bob's funeral arrangements and obituary is available at