Robert Benjamin “Bob” Shallenberger, 97, a 60-year resident of Oak Park and River Forest, died peacefully on Nov. 21, 2021, surrounded by loved ones. Born in Ames, Iowa, on Dec. 30, 1923, he was the son of the late Larsh B. Shallenberger and Amy V.C. Shallenberger (née Benjamin) and brother to the late Ruth L. McCornack (née Shallenberger), David B. “Buzz” Shallenberger, and Raymond M. Shallenberger. The family moved to Englewood in 1927, and Bob attended Lindblom High School, where he went by the nickname “Red,” won the marimba state championship, played the cornet and xylophone, and graduated at age 14, the shortest person in his class. In 1942, he joined the service and, thanks to his skill as a typist, was recruited to the codebreaking team at the Office of Strategic Services, with whom he served in China through the end of World War II.
After the war, he earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Southern California. As a business and drivers’ education teacher at Foreman High School, he was known for getting to work so early all the lights weren’t on, and he worked other odd jobs part-time to support his family. A proud member of the Chicago Teachers Union, for the rest of his life he was grateful for the middle-class life it built. Bob met his wife, Betty Lois Shallenberger, née Groark, at a Catholic singles dance in 1951. After he walked her home, he asked for her phone number, and she told him to look it up in the phone book. He did, and they were married for 52 years, until she passed away in 2004.
Later in life, he described himself, to friends and strangers alike, as “so fortunate” for having such a loving family, but his family knew they were the fortunate ones, to have so much time with him. Raised during the Depression, he was frugal and more than occasionally stubborn but a fundamentally generous person, who held a lifelong, deep respect for Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his commitment to the working man (he maintained Harry Truman was second-best, and historically underappreciated). In retirement, he enjoyed traveling with Betty, making his grandchildren basted eggs, besting his friends at Bridge, and ordering vodka gimlets, heavy on the lime juice. He volunteered as a math tutor for local fifth-graders for as long as his hearing allowed it, and shared his investment advice with anyone who would listen.
Bob is survived by his children, Roberta Shallenberger (Paul R. Lynch), Thomas M. Shallenberger (Kristin Nystedt), and Susan Shallenberger (Timothy F. Conway), and his grandchildren, Daniel P. Lynch (Lana Lynch), Michael R. Lynch, Madeline R. Conway, Grace E. Conway, and Julia S. Conway.
Funeral services were held on Nov. 27, at St. Giles Catholic Parish in Oak Park. The family would like to express their thanks for the help and care given by Brookdale Oak Park. If desired, friends may make memorial contributions to Misericordia Heart of Mercy and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Condolences may be sent to the family at Peterson-Bassi Chapels in Chicago.