Robert “Bob” Shook wasn’t afraid to tackle a project — no matter how large.
“When he set his mind to it, it got done,” friend Jay Wackler of Troy said of Shook.
A Troy native, whose roles ranged from Army veteran; corporate executive; public official; husband, father and grandfather; fisherman; busy board member; and volunteer, Shook died March 23 at age 84.
His hands touched many projects across Miami County and the region with the best known being the countywide bike trail that took more than 12 years to complete under his leadership.
After countless meetings of a trail task force, discussions with land owners and securing of funds, the more than 20-mile trail outside the county’s cities was capped in 2015 with the naming of a last link, a bridge over the Great Miami River, in Shook’s honor.
“At first it didn’t register with me,” Shook in a 2013 interview said of the trail concept. When it did, there was no turning back.
“Bob was the driving force behind the development of the bike trail. … He was able to bring all of the jurisdictions together … and keep everyone going the same direction, which was to make everyone look beyond just their own areas for the betterment of the whole region,” said Scott Myers, Miami County Park District executive director.
“With Bob, it was all about making Miami County a better place to live and he knew that the bike trail along the river was the avenue to make that happen,” Myers said.
Shook served since 2010 on the county health district board, where health Commissioner Dennis Propes said he was forward thinking and always looking at how things could be done better for the community.
“Bob pushed me and challenged me on every decision or recommendation I would make before the board; he made me a better health commissioner. He did so by making me look at decisions from multiple perspectives and making sure that I not only had the answer to his questions, but to everyone’s,” Propes said.
He prepared for board meeting by asking himself what questions Shook might have, Propes said. “Even though Bob is no longer with us, his spirit will carry on every month as I prepare for the board meeting and ponder — ‘What will Bob ask?,’ ” he said.
Julie Shook Muhlberger said she knew what Propes meant. “My dad would ask you a thousand questions,” she said. However, she said, “He could get things done; was able to motivate.”
Reminding that her dad was a child of the Great Depression, Muhlberger said he taught her and her brother, Tom, the value of money, and of saving.
“First and foremost, he instilled in us the value of God, family and friends, community. He was big on community support,” she said. “He said you needed to do something with your existence, to help somebody else.”
Shook and wife, Barbara, met at Miami (Ohio) University, the same school their daughter attended. The Shooks were married more than 60 years.
Muhlberger and her dad would talk by phone every day around 7 a.m. for the past few years. They’d talk a lot about business, including the Muhlbergers’ farm in North Carolina.
“That was our time,” she said, adding her father would never shy from giving good advice or a “kick in the rear.”
Wackler said he and Shook shared a corporate background — Shook was an executive for Traveler’s Insurance in New York City before retirement — and became good friends as Shook brought him in on projects over the years.
Among other Shook projects was the county veterans’ history recorded interviews, work on a drug-free communities effort and a cemetery restoration project in Concord Twp. where he was a trustee. Shook also served on the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and was recipient of its Regional Stewardship and Leadership Award.
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