One of Waynedale’s favorite citizens and a former owner of the Waynedale News has passed away.
Robert (Bob) L. Stark died peacefully on Dec. 11, 2021 at home. He was 74.
“He was a kind person, and just such a great guy,” said his wife, Mary Stark.
Born January 5, 1947, Stark was raised in Fort Wayne and Waynedale. Stark attended Elmhurst High School, and then Purdue University, Fort Wayne.
Stark grew up in Waynedale in the 1950s, the fifth of seven children. After graduating from Elmhurst, he went to work in different factories around town, including IHC Scout Plant, Dana Corporation, and Phelps Dodge.
After 13 years of factory work, he enrolled at what was then Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. After completing his degree, Stark and his wife moved to Wyoming, where they both studied anthropology under renowned professor Charles Love.
While living out west, Stark also scored a job working on one of the first wet scrubbers built onto a coal power plant. Scrubbers are devices that help reduce greenhouse emissions from power plants such as the coal-fired 2,000-megawatt turbine generator where Stark worked.
Wyoming was a perfect fit for Stark’s interests. One of his biggest passions was the outdoors. He loved family campouts, hiking in the mountains, and fishing trips with friends.
In fact, the outdoors brought Stark one of his proudest accomplishments. While living in Wyoming and working with Love, the pair crafted a theory of how the giant Moai statues on Easter Island were moved. With the help of some friends, Stark proved his idea, using wooden planks, log rollers, and ropes.
The eight-ton statue he created to prove his theory still stands on Lower Huntington Road, between Ardmore and Smith Roads.
A lifetime member of the Waynedale United Methodist Church, Stark also loved woodworking, and was a longtime member of the Huntertown Woodworkers. He spent hours of his spare time turning logs into vases and burls into bowls.
Stark also started his own business with his brothers, Jim and John, called Blackstone Laboratories. The venture was an oil-analysis laboratory.
Stark also bought and ran the Waynedale News for 10 years, serving as the paper’s editor and publisher. Stark sold the Waynedale News to current owner Alex Cornwell in 2009.
He also had a book published last year. “Blueprint for a Time Machine” was released, and actually charted on Amazon.com best-seller list for time travel books.
Stark described his book as a world where lead character Jason Strider demonstrates that “time travel is not only possible but can be taught to all those who have a desire to learn. The reader simply needs to follow the four simple rules laid out in the book.
“The readers are already on a time journey,” Stark explained, “they only need to knock down the barriers that they have around themselves.”
Daughter, Julie Roop, noted, “He just had an ability to keep moving forward, to keep learning new things,” she said. “I mean, he did writing, he did wood working, he did outdoors stuff. He just didn’t quit.”
Roop said her father even found time in his busy schedule to drive all the way to Woodburn to check out his daughter’s property occasionally.
“I have a Ring doorbell, and we’d see him on our camera checking our barn while I was at work,” Roop noted with a chuckle.
“He was just a great dad and a great grandpa,” continued Roop, a 56-year-old sales manager. “He supported me and my children in absolutely any endeavor we wanted to do.”
Stark is survived by his wife, Mary Mangona, daughters, Julie (Tim) Roop, of Woodburn; Susan, of Moss Beach, Calif.; son, Rob (Sherry); brother, William (Linda); sister, Kathy (Matt Schmidt), all of Fort Wayne; eight grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Irene and William Stark, and his siblings, Jude, Dan, John and Jim.
Stark’s funeral and visitation took place in December. Burial was at Prairie Grove Cemetery on Old Trail Road.
In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials to Stark’s memory may be made to Rock Steady Boxing at Lutheran Life Villages, Humane Fort Wayne, or to Visiting Nurse Hospice.
In his later years, Stark suffered from the devastating effects of Parkinson’s disease. Even that hardly slowed his passion for keeping busy, said Roop. In fact, he finished writing his “Time Machine” book while battling the disease.
But while Stark’s interests were all over the map, owning and running the Waynedale News may have been his favorite passion, according to Mary.
“He just loved to write, and he loved Waynedale,” Mary Stark said.
From The Publisher: As a young teenager, I have fond memories of delivering newspapers, office rubber band fights and playing videogames online at the only place that I knew had “fast” internet, The Waynedale News office. Bob Stark was the Owner of the newspaper at that time and since my mom was an employee, I remember him being very accommodating to our family’s needs. I even purchased my first vehicle from him when I was 16, a rusty 1980’s Nissan 300ZX. I worked for Bob for about 4 years while in college until the time I purchased the newspaper from him in 2009. It was clear that he had a great faith entrusted in me as he passed the torch of this beloved Waynedale News. I thank Bob for the opportunity to continue his and the newspaper’s legacy in the Waynedale community. Bob was a visionary, with his mind set on the next big project he always seemed to have on the horizon. His brain was a plethora of knowledge about the many things he was passionate about. With the sad news of his passing, I’d like to relay my condolences to the Stark family and his other dear friends.