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Robert Conner "Bob" Chapoose, Sr., Su-Pah-tooch, age 89, passed away November 28, 2022, at the Uintah Basin Sr. Villa.
He was born on April 2, 1933, and raised on the U&O Reservation. Raised by his parents, Connor and Lulu Wash Chapoose, and grandparents. He attended the Whiterocks Boarding school where he was taught to speak English. After boarding school he attended Alterra High School. After Alterra burned down, he attended Union High School his senior year and was part of the first graduating class of 1952. While attending Union High School, he played and lettered in football, basketball and participated in track and field as well as playing American Legion Baseball. While school and farming kept him busy, he still found time to ride bulls and team rope with his dad.
While Bob's dad, Connor, was on the tribal council, Bob would travel to Washington D.C. with the tribe and translate for the elders that did not speak English. He built close relationships with many politicians the more he traveled, he also had the privilege of meeting many presidents along the way.
Bob briefly attended Utah State University before enlisting in the Army where he served in the Korean War and early Vietnam Conflict. He was the first member of the Ute Indian Tribe to be named one of the U.S. military advisors sent to Vietnam. He played for the 8th Army division football team at Fort Ord. After returning home, he was heavily recruited to play football and chose to attend Dixie Junior College in 1956 where he also played basketball and baseball for the college. In 1957 he was named to the Junior College All-American Football team and went to Jackson, Mississippi for the East-West Allstar Game where his coach was NFL Hall of Famer “Slingin'” Sammy Baugh. Bob was the first All-American in Dixie College history and the first junior college All-American to come out of the State of Utah. He went on to play professional football for the Pittsburgh Steelers until he suffered a career ending knee injury. He didn’t let that knee injury stop him, he also pitched 9 games for the Chicago Cubs after being called up from the AAA Albuquerque Dukes. Bob also boxed professionally, including an exhibition match against former Heavy-Weight Champion, Archie Moore and bowled professionally as well. As he grew older, he enjoyed playing softball and basketball and was an avid golfer, bowler, outdoorsman, and he traveled throughout the U.S. competing in many events and winning many awards and championships.
While attending Dixie, Bob met and married a local girl, Connie Jensen on December 20, 1956. They were later sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on December 8, 1968. For the next 45 years Bob and Connie raised four children and many others that were not their own, including siblings, grandkids, nieces and nephews, neighbor kids, and his students up until Connie passed on December 15, 2001.
Bob was a traditional man. He was invited to and attended many Sundances throughout Utah, Colorado and Montana to help the dancers and keep fire. He spoke fluent Ute and was often approached to authenticate the way the Ute language was used. He took pride in his culture and traditional ways. He taught and shared his knowledge with his family, friends and others as much as he could. Bob helped implement the construction of the Veterans Memorial at Bottle Hollow. He worked with sculptor Jerime Hooley to design and build the statue that sits there today. Bob and his brother Ernie honored the Buffalo Soldiers by preserving their Heart Monument known as Valentine Rock that they had built on the White River. They enhanced and protected the monument so others could enjoy it as well. They also helped rebuild the monument at the Millcreek Battlefield Park where the Meeker Massacre took place. He spoke on the significance of the Ute Warriors that it represents. Bob was also a consultant for NASaP, Native American Sacred Trees and Places, where they would identify and preserve manipulated trees that our ancestors used as landmarks and waypoints.
Throughout his lifetime Bob worked for the Ute Indian Tribe in various capacities and positions. He worked for the State Highway Department as an engineer and highway designer, also the State of Utah Office of Employment Services. He then returned to work with his brother Haskell for the Ute Indian Tribe in economic development where they planned and constructed Bottle Hollow Resort. Bob then worked in St. George at Dixie College as the Upward Bound Director then transferred to Weber State. He decided to move back home and worked for the Ute Tribe Prosecution and Probation Department. He found his calling as a counselor for Uintah School District at West Junior High where he made a positive impact on many students lives. He was well liked and people to this day remember when he took students to Washington D.C. and various landmarks to educate and expose them to life outside the reservation. He retired at the age of 62 to take care of his wife and enjoy time with his family.
Bob was an amazing artist. Throughout his life he was in over 80 motion pictures including Run of the Arrow, Stage Coach, Windwalker, The Misfits, Planet of the Apes and most recently an episode of Yellowstone. He was a stand in for Clark Gable, John Wayne, Tex Ritter and he even shared a dance with Marilyn Monroe. Grandpa Bob was a huge WWE fan, always watching with his Grandkids and Leslie. They attended many live matches and enjoyed meeting his favorite superstars. He loved traveling with his family. He would drag them all over the place for bowling tournaments, especially to Las Vegas. He would take anyone who was willing to go and would always put their needs first. His favorite traveling partner was his brother Ernie. They would spontaneously take off to Wendover or wherever the road took them. He enjoyed every moment he could spend with family and friends hunting, fishing or eating out. He especially loved supporting his grandkids and great grandkids in their activities. He was known as the living legend.
Bob is survived by his children, Robert "Bobby" (Vodne) Chapoose, Jr., Yellowstone Subdivision; Vernie (Jenn) Chapoose Sr., Farmington, Utah; David Chapoose, Yellowstone Subdivision; Leslie Ann Chapoose, Richardson Subdivision; 15 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren; two special friends, Laura Nelson & Loraine Howard; a sister that he helped raise, Lorena Writingbird; sister-in-law, Loni Chapoose, and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Connie; his parents; his siblings, Marietta Reed, Nathaline Santio Haskell Chapoose, Ina Lou Chapoose, Gertrude Willie, William Chapoose, Ernest Chapoose, Lynn Chapoose, Earl Albert Chapoose, Gloriann Chapoose; in-laws, Charles "Bush" Reed, Kenneth Santio, Sherrie Chapoose Woodland, Ken Writingbird, David Willie; and grandson Charley Chapoose.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, December 2, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at the Fort Duchesne Community Building. There will be a wake after 4:00 p.m. on Thursday at the community building.
Burial will be in the Fort Duchesne Cemetery.
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Starts at 4:00pm (Mountain time)
Friday, December 2, 2022
10:00am - 1:00pm (Mountain time)
Friday, December 2, 2022
Fort Duchesne Cemetery
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