Madison - Robert Harris "Bob" DeZonia, born May 22, 1930 in Fulton, KY, died peacefully on November 17, 2012 at Agrace Hospice following complications from hip-fracture surgery that led to a stroke.
Bob was at the forefront of higher education for the State of WI throughout his distinguished career, receiving legislative awards and commendations for his exemplary contributions. He was pivotal in establishing college tuition reciprocity in WI and MN, and ended his career as a consumer affairs administrator for the State of WI insurance commission.
Raised in Memphis TN and a graduate of Memphis State University, Bob began his migration north following completion of his English Journalism degree. Always on the educational frontier, he was one of the nation's first to receive a PhD in Higher Educational Administration from the University of Illinois and it resulted in his move to Madison, the place that became the most beloved home base of his life.
After leading the State Coordinating Committee on Higher Education and serving as Chief Academic Affairs Officer and as a Deputy Director for the Wisconsin State University Board of Regents, Bob moved into the private sector, serving as a key aide for then-Governor Knowles' Commission on Education and as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. His educational devotion resulted in his volunteer role as Madison School Board member and President for two terms. He then moved to South Dakota for four years, where he served as Commissioner of Higher Education and completed a year-long acting Presidency of University of SD. Bob was also a natural-born teacher, serving as a visiting lecturer throughout his career at UW-Madison, Marquette University, Northern Illinois University and University of SD.
Unable to get Madison out of his heart, Bob returned and completed his career serving the State of WI. His focus became his ever-growing family in Madison and Minnesota, alongside several other passionate loves of his life: bowling, military history, politics, Badger football and basketball, and the Green Bay Packers.
Bob's prolific bowling career saw him attain a 200 average for more than ten years, a perfect 300 game, Presidency of the Madison Bowling Association and eventual induction into the Madison Bowling Association Hall of Fame. He was a bowling columnist for the Capital Times newspaper for years.
Married to his college sweetheart, Katherine "Tish" DeZonia, their marriage resulted in seven children. Bob is preceded in death by his eldest son, Robert F. "Bobby" DeZonia, and survived and adored as "Paw" by children Kathe Hocum, Anne-Marie Cookson, Suzanne (Tim) Mullen, Liz (Creighton) Hinkes, Jeanne (Mitch Snyder) Corcoran, and Barry DeZonia. Known as Grandpa / Grandpa Bob / Grandaddy / and Gramps, he is dearly loved and will be deeply missed by 19 grandchildren and their 7 spouses, 8 great-grandchildren, and one more on the way.
We have been blessed by the warm love and support of this big man with the silver hair and smiling brown eyes, and we will forever drink chocolate milk and eat peanut M&M's in his honor.
Bob was extremely proud to serve our country in the Air Force during the Korean War. He will be laid to rest with full military honors at St. Andrew's Cemetery in Verona following his funeral service.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Christopher Catholic Parish at the St. Andrew Catholic Church, 301 N. Main Street. Verona, WI, on Monday, November 26, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. with Father William Vernon and Msgr. Delbert Schmelzer presiding. Interment will follow at St. Andrews Cemetery. A visitation will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison, on Sunday, November 25, 2012 from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. and at church on Monday from 9:30 a.m. until time of the mass.
Memorials may be made to Agrace HospiceCare Inc. or the American Diabetes Association.
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My belated condolences to the family. My mother, Lucile Dezonia Smith, was a niece to Harry B. DeZonia, so I remember hearing about him and Cousin Harry Fields DeZonia. My wife saw this as she was doing family research. Sad we have all lost touch. Best wishes to all of you.
I enjoyed working with Bob during our sponsorhip of the Madison Bowling Association. He will be missed and his contribution to the Madison Bowling Association will be forever remembered. Our Sincere condolences to your family.
Bob will be missed.....by family and friends as well as those of his bowling "family." In the mid 80s Bob, in his role as an MBA director, helped save the administrative arm of the bowling community which had been mired in internal dispute. As the then association secretary I depended greatly on Bob's ability to communicate and arbitrate. My success on the national level as both an ABC Director and Vice President was, in a large part, due to Bob's outspoken support. Sadly I learned of his passing too late to express my sentiments in a more personal manner to his family. Hopefully they will see these words. Tbanks, Bob. Rest in God's arms throughout eternity..
When I was 16-years-old, I started working at Schwoegler's Nakoma in the snack bar. Bob was one of the many bowlers I met and got to know. He was always friendly with a ready smile and a quick wit.
A couple years later, I graduated from Memorial High School. Bob handed me my high school diploma. Over the years we ran into each other in various places, bowling alleys, grocery store, etc. He always had time to stop and chat.
The last time I saw him was at Meriter Park. I was walking through the lobby and Bob was sitting waiting for some tests. Although we were both older and he seemed to be in some discomfort, Bob recognized me and greeted me with a smile.
I will always remember him as a kind soul and someone who was easy to talk to. Rest in Peace, Bob.
Bob was a wonderful friend and mentor when I began my career, working in state service at the Insurance Commisioner's Office. His quick wit kept things in perspective and his ready laugh infused levity when situations edged toward stressful. It was a joy to hear his stories and he was always there to hear mine as well. While I know Bob will be missed by many, his memories live on.
I am sending this on behalf of Fran & Bill Hauser who got to know Bob at The Jefferson. They spoke of him with great fondness.....saying that he knew a lot about a lot of things. They also talked bowling as Bill (age 94) bowled up until 4-5 years ago when his knees & eyesight presented obstacles. Fran (age 100) also was a bowler. She worked at the UW for years so she & Bob had much to talk about in that arena too. They are deeply saddened by his passing & wish to extend their sympathy to all his family. Since Fran & Bill are unable to get to the visitation on Sunday I want you to know they feel blessed for having the opportunity of meeting Bob & visiting with him in the Jefferson dining room. They miss him.
Next time I hear thunder, I'll know "Big Bob" found "Little Bob" and they have started to throw strikes again.
I got to know Bob though his love of bowling and his many articles for the Cap Times. I still remember the many "interviews" we had for numerous articles and how they seemed to turn to his other passions, the Badgers and Packers :) A WONDERFUL man who will be truly missed!! God Bless!
Bob was a friend and colleague with a passion for bowling who could talk forever on bowling topics. From this bowling junkie, that is high praise. He will be missed.
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