Bobby “Bob” Lee Crabtree 1942-2018
Bobby "Bob" Lee Crabtree passed away on Saturday, March 3 at Moberly Regional Medical Center in Moberly. Bob was born on October 22, 1942 to Robert and Clara (Swon) Crabtree of Perry, Missouri. On April 1, 1967, he married Peggy Anne Hays of New London, who survives at the home. Other survivors include four children: Todd (Lisa) Crabtree of Lake St. Louis, Kelly Wheelan and Erin (Dallas) Gruber both of Paris, and Whitney Crabtree (Tony Povich) of St. Louis; two sisters: Sharon (Bill) Wright and Donna Yates, both of Perry, Missouri. Bob was a very proud grandfather to nine grandchildren: Landry and Braxton Crabtree; Bryce Hubbell; Chance, Abigail, Madison and Delaney Wheelan; Payton (Jacob) Youse and Tucker Gruber. Also surviving is his mother-in-law Frances Hays and special friend Weldon Calvert. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Betty Goodhart, father-in-law Richard "Shammy" Hays, and a son-in-law Douglas Wheelan.
Bob attended Perry High School and was part of the first graduating class of the newly formed Mark Twain High School in 1960. Shortly after high school, Bob began a lifelong career in the automotive industry. He and Peggy moved to Paris, where he was employed by VanPragg and Chandler Auto as a mechanic and later a car salesman. Always with a gift of gab, Bob enjoyed a successful career working at the local automotive dealerships throughout their existence in Paris. He later owned and operated several automotive repair shops in Paris through the late 1980s, and eventually started Crabtree Trucking, a car transport business which he owned and operated until the time of his death. Bob proudly served as mayor of Paris from 2009 to 2011. As a side business, he was involved in real estate rentals and enjoyed renovating and flipping houses.
There were three loves in Bob's life - cars, family, and helping people. During his grade school years he became a self-taught mechanic, building a motorized go-kart from scratch. This passion with the internal combustion engine evolved throughout his life, beginning with drag racing his Corvette from town to town in his youth, to owning and working on late model race cars for the local dirt tracks, restoring street rods and enjoying road trips to the national car shows, before coming back to a stint as crew chief for dirt track racing. Bob either had a hand in racing against or working for several well-known NASCAR drivers of the modern era, and fiercely competed through the last lap.
Bob dearly loved his family and enjoyed having everyone over, spending Sundays cooking on the grill, having good conversation, and offering advice. He was especially fond of spending time with the grandchildren, was an avid fan of their sporting events, and always took a keen interest in their activities. There was no location too far or remote that Bob wouldn't travel to support his family's events. Over the past several years, he enjoyed camping and taking road trips with Peggy and some of their close friends, particularly to Branson.
Bob always enjoyed meeting new people, and never met a stranger. Although he was the consummate Paris ambassador, his over the road travel hauling cars allowed him to make countless friendships across the Midwest. Whether it was simply chatting at a local truck stop over a cup of coffee and a doughnut or helping a stranger down on their luck, Bob loved knowing that he might make a difference in someone's life. Reveling in the small group conversations, he was genuinely interested in his fellow citizens and always willing to put those less fortunate in front of himself. His selflessness touched many lives in the community and beyond.
Funeral services for Bobby Lee Crabtree will be held at Paris First Christian Church with visitation on Thursday from 4-7 pm. Memorial services will be on Friday at 2 pm. The Reverend Donna Scott will officiate. Pallbearers will be Gary Wilson, Guy Callison, Bill VanBoeing, David Young, David Edwards, Kevin Embree, and Bill Utterback. Honorary pallbearers will be children Todd, Kelly, Erin, Whitney, Lisa, Dallas, and Tony, as well as grandchildren Chance, Payton, Landry, Abigail, Tucker, Braxton, Madison, Delaney, Bryce, and Jacob.
Donations for the Caretakers Cottage in memory of Bob Crabtree can be made to the City of Paris