NORTH JUDSON — Family, friends and members of the community packed inside Braman & Bailey Funeral Home in North Judson Sunday, Jan. 15 to celebrate the life of Spc. Robert “Bobby” Tauteris Jr. and to say their final goodbyes.
Bobby lost his life Jan. 6 in Kandahar Afghanistan when the vehicle he was traveling in hit a roadside bomb. Three other soldiers lost their lives in the blast and one was seriously injured.
Bobby grew up in North Judson and was a 1986 graduate of North Judson High School.
Bobby’s niece, Heather Thomas gave the first memorial to this local hero. Thomas said she was going to reminisce with Bobby because it is what they (the family) do.
She spoke of a quiet man whose world revolved around his family.
“He was a family man. His boys were his whole world… He was also a simple man — no frills no fuss,” she said.
Thomas said Bobby just knew what it was that someone needed.
He could make them laugh or sit and lend an ear if they just needed to vent.
“He was just one of those guys you wanted to have around. He may have been quiet, but his presence didn’t go unnoticed,” she said.
Thomas also talked about one of the littlest members of the family, Gracie Mae. She said little Gracie’s eyes would just light up when Bobby entered a room. And it was Bobby who she wanted to spend her time with.
Reminiscing about time spent with her uncle was a bittersweet experience for all who were honored to be present at the service. Thomas’s words brought tears to many eyes, smiles and even laughter as she reminisced with her uncle.
One of the humorous memories she shared involved Bobby, Thomas, and an unexpected encounter with a moving object.
“Hey Uncle Bobby, do you remember the time when you came down to see our new house? We were so excited you drove all the way down; and I met you at the door and you gave me a big hug. You put me on your shoulders and we began the tour. You stopped and mom was giving you the ins and the outs of the new house; and you guys kept hearing this noise. And it took forever before you realized that you had stopped right under our new ceiling fan and my face was caught between the blades,” Thomas said.
Memories such as these were repeatedly shared about the life of Bobby Tauteris — giving those in attendance a glimpse into the life of the man as well as the soldier.
Congressman Joe Donnelly gave a heartwarming speech. He appealed to the spiritual aspect of the service and the hope that all Christians have of death not being the final goodbye. Donnelly said this goodbye was only temporary. He spoke of the promise that one day Bobby’s family would see him again.
Bobby's name will also be added to the Congressional record, Donnelly said.
“We rise to remember and honor the life and dedicated service of Spc. Robert Tauteris, a proud member of the 713th. Spc. Tauteris died along with his fellow soldiers in Kandahar province. The State of Indiana mourns the loss of not only Robert, but the other brave men who took on this dangerous mission so that we could sleep in safety here back home,” Donnelly said.
Major General Martin Umbarger shared anecdotes from Bobby’s unit.
He told a story about a training exercise that involved everyone wading through tall Texas grass, stumbling in holes, and falling down all the way through the exercise. Umbarger said when the group was preparing to get back in their vehicle, Bobby misjudged the distance to the road and fell face first in a ravine. After getting in the vehicle, Bobby just sat there not saying a word. While his comrades razzed him relentlessly, he still continued to sit there. Finally, after an hour, Umbarger said Bobby looked up and said, “I guess I’m going to have to get a walker.” Umbarger said everyone busted out laughing and then someone asked Bobby why he just sat there without speaking and he replied, “I was trying to think of a funny comeback.”
“That’s how Bobby was. He had a dry sense of humor,” said Umbarger.
Governor Mitch Daniels also addressed the family. Daniels said that there are two calls he never wants to receive. One is when there’s an execution; and the other is the loss of one of our soldiers. Daniels also said Bobby was a man to be proud of and his legacy would live on through his sons.
After the memorials, a special presentation was made to Bobby’s sons Robert and Matthew. Governor Daniels and Major General Umbarger presented both the bronze star and the Purple Heart to Bobby posthumously.
Spc. Robert Tauteris Jr. was laid to rest in LaCrosse next to his mother.
He is survived by his father Robert (Nichelle) Tauteris Sr.; sons: Robert (Kayla) III and Mathew Tauteris, brothers: Thomas (Jenny) Tauteris and Darryl (Angie) Minix and sister Tammy Smith.
Editor's note: My deepest condolences and sympathy goes out to the family of Bobby Tauteris. I would also like to thank you for allowing me the honor of attending Bobby’s service and the privilege of telling his and your story. Bobby was always your hero; and now I, along with so many others, am proud to say he will forever be our hero as well. May God bless you all.