1932 Robert 2022

Robert Joseph Belknap

March 4, 1932 — January 28, 2022

Words like "adventurous, honest, funny, intelligent, devoted, creative, loyal, fearless, sincere, generous, storyteller, craftsman, teacher, mentor, friend, Catholic" are all words that have been used to describe the man dearly loved as husband, dad, grandfather, and friend. Each of these qualities were ever present and honed to perfection throughout his 89-year life. Bob passed away peacefully on Friday, January 28, 2022 in El Paso, TX. Robert Joseph Belknap was born in Nevada, Missouri on March 4,1932 to Angela (Hochstatter) and Roy Belknap, and was the youngest of 3, with older siblings Patricia (Cook) and Gilbert. Roy Belknap was an entrepreneur who ran a Buick dealership, auto repair shop, and an airfield in Nevada and Bob took every opportunity to go with his dad to work. Sundays after church were treasured days and the best days meant flying in an airplane. He learned to fly as a teenager and his happiest days of his youth were spent mowing the runways and fields around the Nevada airport. His Aunt Helen Hochstatter lived with the family and thought Bob hung the moon. He was her greatest fan, recalling “she was my best friend." Bob described himself as a “free spirited child” and maintains he was “never tamed." Preferring not to stay home, Bob often ran off to play and discover. He was introduced to his first rifle at a very young age and claims he never put it down. Indeed, the passions of his childhood – shooting, airplanes, fishing, and cars – endured his whole life. His final flight time took him over the Texas Hill Country on October 17, 2021 with his son, Bob, and he gushed about this ever since. Bob graduated from Catholic high school in Nevada, MO in 1950 where he lettered in track and shooting. His mechanical drawing skills were so exceptional that his dad asked him to design a new garage for his Buick dealership, which was approved, built, and still stands in Nevada today. He attended the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Michigan for two years, but this didn’t compromise his love for airplanes- he just made room for cars, too! On one of his breaks from school, he met Barbara Jean Dunn, who later became his wife in 1952. Flying planes was also a passion that ran deep in the Dunn family, and they spent many hours sharing this exciting activity. Just after they married, Bob joined the Army, and went to Ft Crowder, Kansas for basic training. After basic training, he was sent to mechanics school at Ft Riley, Kansas. On the first day of class, the instructor said, “Private Belknap, you will be giving this class today. You know more about this than I do!” From that point on and during the Korean War, Bob taught soldiers mechanics. His commanding general, aware of Bob’s superb talent, offered to send him to officer training school. But Bob had other plans and he returned to Nevada to start his life with Barbara and one-year-old son, Robert Michael. Three Kansas born children followed: Stephen Mark, Donald Raymond, and Debra Jean. The family moved to El Paso, Texas in 1961 and have had roots there ever since. All of the children attended and graduated the University of Texas at El Paso. Bob made a special mark in his new hometown as a General Motors manager until he opened his own business, Belknap Auto Care, in 1978. While growing his business, he also stayed busy serving as the Chairman of the Board at RE Thomason County Hospital and as a County Commissioner. Perhaps the least known, most enduring impact he had on El Paso was his tenacity in singlehandedly closing the agreement to bring the Texas Tech Medical School to El Paso. On arrival, the small medical team from Lubbock occupied the fourth floor of Thomason hospital. Today, it is estimated this partnership brings $125 million a year to the El Paso community, educating hundreds of medical professionals each year. He took great pleasure in pointing out all the double red Ts on the sides of multiple buildings all over El Paso! Family has always been of upmost importance, so when his wife Barbara was diagnosed with cancer, he focused on caring for her for over 3 years. Despite his devoted care, Barbara passed away in 1985. Her passing was difficult for Bob. But when Bob met Esperanza Sanchez, there was no doubt this was a love for the ages. Married for 37 years, Bob and Espy were more in love each day and their life was full of wonder! They were embraced by both families. The children were subjected to “oh honey,” “precious angel,” and “you sexy mister” on a regular basis, every day of those 37 years. Without fail, the two would call and sing “Happy Birthday” to every family member. The good Lord blessed Bob with many talents, but singing wasn’t one of them! But he didn’t care and neither did we- love of family was all important. Bob was an artist who chose woodworking as a hobby. He created and built many heirlooms that will be handed down for generations to come. He loved to share his knowledge- when Bob invited someone new to “see something out back,” the family would chuckle, knowing this meant a lengthy visit to learn about his newest project. He could spend hours providing enthralling stories and details about each item. Those moments were never boring even though they were repeated many, many times. Bob’s life was charmed, vibrant, full of love and adventure. It was well-lived and he was well loved. He is greatly missed by his wife, Esperanza, his four children with Barbara (Bob, Steve, Don, and Debra) and their spouses, Esperanza’s 3 sons (Anthony, David, and John) and their spouses, his grandchildren (Brook, Ryan, Austin, Jordan, Hannah, Elizabeth, Rachel, Rebekah, Ben, Kathryn, Kara, Jared, Wade, Janelle and Kristelle) and his great grandchildren (Brooklyn and Stephen Ryan "Tripp"). He leaves a beautiful legacy in his family who meant the world to him. Visitation will be from 5:00 - 8:00 PM, with Rosary at 6:00 PM, on Tuesday, February 8, 2022 at Sunset Funeral Homes- Northeast, 4631 Hondo Pass. Scripture Service will take place at 1:00 PM, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at Sunset Funeral Homes- Northeast, 4631 Hondo Pass. Committal Service will follow at 2:30 PM, at Memory Gardens of the Valley Cemetery. To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Robert Joseph Belknap please visit our Sympathy Store.
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