Robert Shaw Fellner, Sr., age 85, passed away at home on June 5, 2019. He was born in Sturgeon Bay on May 6, 1934, to Joseph and Clara (Shaw) Fellner. Robert graduated from Sevastopol High School in 1952. Following graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army, spending time in Japan during the Korean Conflict.
When he returned home, he joined his father and brother John Fellner in the fruit growing partnership known as Fellner Orchards. Their orchard was one of the first with cold storage, bagging and an apple trucking operation. Bob was a long-time member of the Fruit Grower’s Association and was a trained chemical applicator.
On January 19, 1963, Robert married Grace C. Schuyler of Sturgeon Bay. Bob and Grace worked their strawberry patch and cherry and apple orchard together while raising their five children. They employed a multitude of Sevastopol teenagers and wonderful neighboring peoples during the harvesting process. Bob is remembered fondly as a gregarious taskmaster-the boss.
Bob dedicated 25 years to coaching Girls’ and Boys’ Little Leagues, Pony and Babe Ruth Leagues, Big League and Sturgeon Bay Legion as well as Sevastopol High School Softball. He, along with Jerry Colombo and Bob Schartner, wrote the charter for the 16-18-year-old girls’ Big League, affording young women continued playing opportunities, which created many college-level ball players. The same men were instrumental in designing and building the PBI Field in Sturgeon Bay.
Bob’s coaching philosophy made people want to play for him. Not only did he believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to play, but also his long-standing motto was, “Find the good, and praise it.” He believed in teaching kids what “to do” versus what “not to do.” His principal philosophy was that kids should be taught as if they can learn anything, discarding all limiting beliefs.
A few years ago while walking down the hall of the hospital a former ball player said, “That has to be Mr. Fellner-I would know that voice anywhere.” Bob’s voice wasn’t just one of encouragement to young people; he could also weave a yarn, tell a joke, or recite poems from memory, captivating and holding a whole room in the palm of his hand.
Bob was a county league baseball player and umpire, an avid hunter, fisherman, bowler, horseshoe pitcher and shuffler handler. He was a lifetime member of the Rod and Gun Club.
His parents, Joseph and Clara, his brother, John (wife, Dorothy) and his sister, Kathryn (husband, Robert) Wolter preceded him in death. He is survived and cherished by his wife of 56 years, Grace Fellner, and their children: Deirdre Fellner of Milwaukee; Heather (Brian) Spetz of Sturgeon Bay (Riley and Isaiah); Jendiss Frizzell of New Hampshire (Alexander, Jessica, Mathew, and Tyler); Dr. Erinn Fellner and Tim Cisler of New Hampshire (McKenna and Grace); Robert (Nikki) Fellner of Sturgeon Bay (Easton and Clara); and his nephew and Fellner Orchards’ partner, Joseph Fellner as well as many other loving nieces and nephews.
The family will have a private celebration of life at a later date. Memorials can be made in Bob’s name to the Sevastopol Baseball or Softball programs and the Sturgeon Bay Boys’ or Girls’ Little Leagues. The family would like to thank the Newcomer Funeral Home for its assistance.