Robert Francis Devoy

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RobRobert Devoy Obit Photoert Francis Devoy lived his life with humility and devotion to his faith, his family, and his community. By quiet example, he impacted and inspired those around him for the entirety of his 97 years. He spent the last days of his life at home in the epicenter of a typical joyously chaotic, Devoy-style gathering. The house was full of people, the street full of cars, and grandchildren of every age piled around him on his king-sized bed. There were tears, laughter, stories, endless visitors, Royals games, overflowing food, puzzles, golden doodles, music, and a general determination by all to keep the party going. Robert passed away peacefully at home, with Clare by his side surrounded by family, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.

On September 3, 1926, Robert Francis Devoy was born at home, 628 North Main Street in Brookfield, Missouri. He happily lived within blocks of this house for his entire life. Born to Frances K. (Tooey) Devoy and Francis Xavier “F.X.” Devoy, Robert joined his older sister Martha Claire (Williams/Flynn) at home. His younger sister Mary Isabel (Shughart) would complete the family. In 1940, when Robert was just 13, their father suddenly died, making him the man of the family. His many jobs of that era reflect important parts of Brookfield’s history. He was a paper boy for The Daily Argus, sold candy and cigarettes through the windows of the troop trains that passed regularly through town, collected bills for the B.L. Walsh Coal Company, worked as the Elliot Hotel’s night clerk and switchboard operator, and put shanks in shoes at the Brown Shoe Company. In 1942, Robert gained a second father and legal mentor with his mother’s marriage to Brookfield attorney Errol Lee Joyce.

Robert attended the Immaculate Conception School through seventh grade and was a 1944 graduate of Brookfield High School. As a member of the BHS band, Robert joked that he played the trombone so well, they insisted he carry the school banner when marching in Kansas City’s American Royal Parade. A member of the Xi Xi Chapter of Sigma Chi, Robert graduated in 1950 from the University of Missouri with a degree in chemistry. Inducted into the U.S. Army in August of 1950, Robert served in the Korean Conflict with the 568th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company. He ended his tour in 1952 as a Sergeant First Class. Robert returned to Columbia, Missouri, to join the University of Missouri School of Law Class of 1955. A few days before his graduation and leaving Columbia for good, Robert fatefully agreed to a last-minute blind date with a sparkling red-haired Theta. The quick smile and easy-going charm of Columbia native Clare Louise Ruether quickly set the course for Robert’s future. They were married in Columbia on August 11, 1956, in Clare’s home parish of Sacred Heart before moving to Brookfield as a couple. The Devoys moved to their family home, fondly called “522 Linn,” in 1964. For fifty years, Robert could stand in their dining room and see the window of the room where he was born.

The young attorney joined his stepfather, Errol Joyce, in private practice in 1955. While maintaining his private practice, Robert won a seat in the Missouri General Assembly in 1956, where he served for four years. He then spent four years as the Linn County Prosecuting Attorney before returning to the Missouri General Assembly for another eight years. His nephew James P. Williams joined Robert in private practice in 1974. After redistricting in 1972, Robert lost re-election, which Clare did not regret as it brought Robert home to her and their eight children: Carol Teresa (b. 1957), Dennis Robert (b. 1959), Thomas Errol (b. 1960), Ann Frances (b. 1961), Jane Marie (b. 1963), John Joseph (b. 1964), William Patrick (b. 1967), and David Michael (b. 1971).

In 1982, the voters of Linn, Chariton, and Sullivan Counties elected Robert to serve as Circuit Judge of Missouri’s 9th Judicial Circuit Court, a position he held for twelve years. He then served as a Missouri Senior Judge until his retirement in 2011. Robert was a longtime board member of Professional Land Title Corporation and joined the board of First Missouri Bank, now Verimore Bank, in 1966 when it was Brookfield Federal Savings and Loan. He became chairman of the bank’s board in 2004 and chairman emeritus in 2017. Beyond his professional life, Robert was a fixture of Brookfield in many ways, including lifelong involvement with Elks Lodge #874, the American Legion, VFW, Pershing Hospital Association, Rotary International, and the Brookfield Country Club.

Staunch in his Catholic faith, Robert was proud of his family history reaching back to the earliest days of Brookfield’s Immaculate Conception Church. His maternal great-grandfather James Tooey, an original member of the parish, attended the very first mass celebrated in Brookfield. Robert, his father F.X., four of his sons, and one grandson received degrees in Council #756. Robert was a past Grand Knight of Council #756 and served on the Parish Council. Robert quietly lived his faith with his family every Sunday in the second pew from the front on the right-hand side of the church.

Beyond his family and his faith, Robert’s passion has been to preserve the legacy of Linn County native General of the Armies John J. Pershing, whose hand Robert memorably shook as a young boy. An active member of the Pershing Park Memorial Association (PPMA) since the 1960s, Robert served thirty years as the organization’s dedicated president. While in the Missouri legislature, Robert introduced a bill successfully relocating the 8-foot-tall bronze General Pershing statue from the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City to the Pershing Boyhood Home in Laclede, Missouri. He was instrumental in the Missouri State Park’s acquisition of the Locust Creek Covered Bridge, the Prairie Mound School House, the Pershing Memorial Museum and Archives, and the land for the First World War Commemorative Poppy Garden. The culmination of decades of Robert’s work can be seen in the Pershing Memorial Museum and Leadership Archives, completed in 2024. Robert’s persistence not only spearheaded the museum’s creation but ensured its future under the umbrella of the Missouri State Parks System. Active and interested until the last moment, Robert enjoyed a virtual tour of the newly completed facility just days before his death.

Robert is survived by his wife of 67 years, Clare, his eight children, and their ever-expanding families, his professional colleagues, and his many, many friends. Along with Clare, those missing him most deeply are the ones most grateful for his guidance, unwavering support, and unlimited love: His children Carol (Ken) Petrehn, Dennis (Laura) Devoy, Thomas (Chyrl) Devoy, Ann (Robert) Crampton, Jane (Terry) Milford, John (Caroline) Devoy, William (Annie) Devoy, and David (Becky) Devoy. His grandchildren Allison Petrehn, Chuck (Veronika Levine) Szachta, Dillion (Chloe) Devoy, Madeline (Brett) Richter, James (Shelly) Books, Paul (Genevieve) Books, Mary Books, Sam Books, Elizabeth (Jay) Quint, John Milford, Marie (Ben Dillon) Milford, Olivia Devoy, Henry Devoy, Will Devoy, Joe Devoy, Jordan Devoy, Paige Devoy, Mackenzie Devoy, Shallan (Jerry) Taylor, Jason (Terri) Russo, Shane Russo, Krista (Mike) Hundley. His great-grandchildren Elmer Books, Winifred Books, Phoebe Books, Amelia Devoy, Clara Richter, Clare Quint, Charlotte Quint, Sydnie (Kayne) Lamison, Lane Thudium, Anastasia Szachta, Maria (Robert) Anderson, Gina (Tyler) Fraley, Natalie (Ivan) Alhiser, Kelly (Garrett) Finncannon, Kayla Russo, Jesse Russo, Josie (Shane) Fabian, Matthew (Makayla) Hundley, Jessica Jennings, Briana Jennings. His great-great-grandchildren Haven Lamison, Davey Anderson, Victoria Anderson, Milly Anderson, Aurora Fraley, Evelyn Fraley, Malachi Jennings, Rella Finncannon, Remy Finncannon, Tatum Finncannon, and Taren Finncannon.

The Elks Lodge #874 Session of Sorrow will be held at 6:00 p.m.; Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, June 24, 2024, at Wright Funeral Home, Brookfield, Missouri. The funeral celebration will begin with a Rosary at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Brookfield, Missouri, with the Mass of Resurrection to follow at 11:00 a.m. with Father Paschal Ihediohamma officiating. The St. Michael’s Cemetery graveside service will immediately follow. Services are under the direction of Wright Funeral Home in Brookfield, Missouri.

In place of flowers, you are asked to support one of the important causes in Robert’s life by donating in his name to:

  • Immaculate Conception Church Cemetery Fund
  • Father McCartan Memorial School
  • North Central Missouri YMCA
  • Pershing Park Memorial Association
  • The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri

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