Welcome to Mr Bob’s Blog!

BOBWelcome to Mr Bob’s Blog!

Welcome to Mr Bob’s Blog!  This is an adventure in interacting with YOU, so we can get acquainted, share experiences, and have fun together. Hit the “Reply” button and share your experience or comment on what I’ve written.

The Blog idea started with a question posed at my 80th birthday party. “80 years old?  Really?  How did you get to be 80?”

I answered the question by sharing how God has protected, provided for, and “pushed” me through the years to prepare me for His purpose to be a children’s author.  I sensed a feeling of purpose when I discovered that my gift for rhyming can help children learn to read.

I’ll add some unique experiences that most people wouldn’t know about that gave my life extra adventure and additional value.  And I’d like to hear what adventures and experiences have added value to YOUR life!

Let’s throw in fun things along the way – to build a “community”, or “family” of people who love the Lord and are enjoying life.

“Reply” and let’s enjoy the journey!

ALOHA from Bob

    NOT BY CHOICE   –   by Robert Z. Hicks

 ‘The year of my 15th birthday, 1950, was a wonderful year in my life!  I was thoroughly enjoying the new strength and abilities of my maturing body.  The physical activities of Scouting and marching in the school band filled my days and appeared to set the stage for wonderful things to come!  But, a seemingly insignificant event was about to initiate a dramatic turn of events that would reshape the rest of my life! 

 In July, I went by train with a group of Scouts from Michigan to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  Hiking through the mountains with pack burros was both a thrill and a test of my new physical strength.  One day the trail led over the top of a mountain where I could see three States and the tops of rain clouds in the valleys below.  I savored the panoramic view, and treasured the experience!  Near the ranch headquarters on the last day, I climbed a high wire fence to be safely away from a grazing buffalo, and watched a mosquito bite my arm, a trivial thing that I thought would be of no consequence and soon forgotten. 

September meant school starting again, and my wonderful life continued blossoming!  I won “First Chair” trumpet in the high school marching band, and music became the center of my activities. On my previous birthday, Daddy had proudly presented me with a shiny new Selmer cornet, the finest instrument of the day!  I won medals at State music festivals, and the Assistant Band Director at Michigan State University invited me to take lessons with him…was I flattered!  My life was all planned in my mind.  I would become a professional musician, or a band director, and play my horn the rest of my life.  Scouting and music were the center of my wonderful life!

Then one day at home, as I walked into the living room, I fell! I just lost my balance and fell!  I fell again the next day, and Mom dug out Grandpa’s old cane so I could get around.  Something was drastically wrong!  The two doctors we went to in the small towns nearby were unable to diagnose my problem, so my aunt took me to see a doctor friend in Chicago.  I believe providentially, he knew Dr. Richard Richter, head neurologist at the University of Chicago Clinics, who saw me the next day. 

 A spinal tap revealed the presence of encephalitis; a virus carried by mosquitoes that attacks the nervous system.  I was almost completely paralyzed, and could not lift my hands to feed myself.  It was not until years later I learned that encephalitis usually resulted in death or mental incapacitation.  The doctors tried the then current “miracle” drugs, and then with no other option evident, they ordered an iron lung to prolong my functioning. 

Betty Murdock, head nurse on the floor, overheard their plans.  She awakened in the night, and felt prompted to drag her roommate out of bed to pray for me.  The next morning, my condition had turned for the better, the iron lung was cancelled, and I began recovering!  Apparently, God waited for that one last obedient prayer before touching me!  Betty shared the details of the story in correspondence with my mother years later.  

My stay at the hospital stretched out to four months, and more months passed while I lay at home in a rented hospital bed.  I started school again in September, walking upright with arm cuff crutches. 

Because of neuromuscular impairment, I was unable to play my horn.  My new limitations forced me to use my brain instead of physical abilities.  Missing a year of school gave me time to mature, and to my surprise, I started getting good grades for the first time in high school.

It never occurred to me to change my goal of being a musician, so when I qualified for a scholarship to the University of Michigan, I started in Music School.  Discouraged by my inability to play the piano or my horn very well, I switched to a business track.  

Looking back, I can see how people “coincidentally” influenced my life by helping me to learn more effectively.  School became easier and I was able to complete a Bachelor of Science degree at Michigan State University, graduating with honors. By a “guided process of elimination”, I finally realized my best asset was my voice, and returned to the University of Michigan to earn a Master’s degree in Speech, with a new goal to become a speech teacher.

The fall school season was about to begin, and I had no job!  “Out of the blue”, I received a surprise phone call from the chairman of the Speech Department at Penn State University inviting me to join a new intern program as a ¾ time Instructor, and ¼ time doctoral candidate.  My three years at Penn State prepared me to be a teacher, and ended with a dramatically orchestrated answer to prayer that raised the curtain on 24 years of adventure.  

 I had been praying many months for the Lord to end my desperate loneliness, when a colleague acquaintance, who knew nothing of my prayer, used a transparent ploy to “set me up” to meet a graduate student friend of hers by returning a college bulletin.   By “coincidence”, I arranged to return the bulletin on Valentine’s Day.  When I met Betty, I knew immediately that my prayer was answered!  I proposed to her on May Day. 

The next day I received another surprise, an offer to teach speech communication at the University of Hawaii for one year, replacing an instructor on leave.  What we thought would be an exciting one-year’s honeymoon, became 24 years of wonderful adventures in Hawaii!

The residual effects of encephalitis began to creep up on me during the 1980’s, so I retired early from the University, a painful “choice”!  Consequently, we moved to Florida and began a new life.

One day, I watched Betty chase a green tree toad around the living room, trying to capture it under a paper cup.  A floodgate opened of memories of animals, birds and critters I enjoyed as a child growing up on my grandfather’s farm.  I felt inspired to write a poem featuring bugs, and shared it with friends.  Their enthusiastic responses encouraged me to write more. 

There followed a period of inspiration unlike any I had experienced before, with poem after poem flowing into my thoughts.  A collection of these poems was awarded “Best Submission for Children’s Writing” at the 2005 Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. 

A new purpose, or “vision”, began to form in my mind.  My poetry could be the medium for making a difference in the lives of children.  By sharing the verbal skills that God gave me as he directed my life, I could encourage children to become skillful with words, and become all that they can be.  My life could be a testimony, that challenges and trials are gifts that God entrusts to us to make us stronger and better, and to prepare us for His good works and purposes.     

I can see the handprint of God as He ordered the steps of my life.  My lifetime journey with verbal skills was not by choice.  A process of “guided elimination “ led me to a career as a college teacher, during which I honed my verbal skills by helping students learn speech communication. 

Discovering and attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference was invaluable in learning about preparing a manuscript for publication.  I still had much to learn, and more work to do!  The award at the Conference encouraged me to continue working toward publishing for children, and I am pleased to report that “Tommie Turtle’s Secret”, one of the poems I submitted, was published.”        

 [Bio attached below]    

 A life threatening disabling disease in his teens, dramatically re-directed the life of Bob Hicks to an exciting journey, including a fulfilling 24 year academic career at the University of Hawaii.  

After retirement, Bob went on to publish 4 children’s rhyming story picture  books, before he passed away and joined Jesus in Heaven on July 25, 2021.

 ”Mr. Bob” has left a legacy of “treasured memories” with us in his writings, and the  books he published:

Tommie Turtle’s Secret,  Mouse in the Manger,  Danny the Dragon,  Ladybug Known as Lil,   &  Once I was a Kid with the Wild Things on the Farm (ebook)

Bob wrote the above article “Not By Choice”, and it is included in the book   “God’s Handprints”, published by the Florida Writers Association in 2007.

ALOHA is a Hawaiian word used when greeting or parting from someone.

I thought what Bob wrote summarizing his life, would be a good way to end the autobiography series in this blog.

Aloha Bob, Love You,



Betty here:
I found this post that Bob wrote for our website blog, when I was preparing the program for the Zoom memorial service for Bob:
Nov 5, 2017 – Blog # 96 Memories – Looking Back 
“Betty and I lived in Hawaii 24 years where I taught at the University of Hawaii. The first 5 years were at the Hilo Campus on the big island, then 19 years at the main campus on Oahu, at the Windward Community College in Kaneohe.
Here are some of the things we experienced that stand out in my memory.
We stood on the rim of an erupting volcano — at midnight!
We boarded a WWII pocket submarine in Hilo Bay to give the sailors some pineapples.
The Lord’s provision for housing was free house-sitting on Halai Hill in Hilo overlooking the town.
On Oahu, we snorkeled in the warm waters of Waikiki, and swam above a giant manta ray bigger than I am at Hanauma Bay.
We sailed in our small boat alongside dolphins off Waikiki.
The Lord provided us elegant free house-sitting in a mansion at the top of Tantalus Mountain, overlooking Honolulu and Pearl Harbor.
Betty and I helped found and manage Christian Vision, the music ministry of Randy and Gay Hongo. Christian Vision has supported them to travel around the world singing and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and making many recordings of their music.  Being connected with Randy and Gay gave us the fun of meeting Waikiki entertainers, and having breakfast with Billy Graham.
Our doctor in Hawaii introduced us to the industry of network marketing which opened the way for a world of adventures we never would have imagined.
Amway gave us an opportunity for personal growth, meeting uplifting positive people, and fun trips such as to a resort on Orcas Island in Washington.
When we moved to Florida, Sunrider provided many opportunities to travel.
We climbed the Great Wall of China! We walked where the emperors of China walked in Forbidden City. We watched as a typhoon buffeted Hong Kong, and savored exotic cuisine aboard the Jumbo Floating Restaurant in Aberdeen Harbor.
The owners of Sunrider loved cruises for leadership conferences. We earned the requirements for 5 cruises. We cruised the Caribbean aboard ships to Cozumel, Grand Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands where we chartered a sailboat to sail and snorkeled at St. John.
We had 2 cruises down the Mexican Riviera, from Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta.
Finally, we got to see both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean in the same day going through the Panama Canal.
Everyone who does a network marketing business hopes to make a lot of money, – but we learned that the real secret of network marketing is the experience: the journey, and building relationships with positive ambitious people – not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Good health is our passion, and we gravitate to companies that make nutritional products from the plants that God has provided.”
“The last time we went back to Hawaii for a visit – we stood at the edge of the cliff looking down into Haunama Bay, our favorite snorkeling spot, enjoying the vista of the half-moon beach, and the gentle waves spilling over the reef.
We spotted the channel where we swam through the reef to visit the schools of flashing fish that hovered and fed above the coral heads outside the reef wall.
Just a few feet from our faces, a couple of Brazilian Cardinals hung tenaciously to a swaying branch in a bush buffeted by the strong ocean breeze.As I pointed my camera, they turned their bright red heads to the sea, and their backs to me.
That picture will remind me, that to hang on, we must face the buffeting forces of life, because ahead of us is where we’ll live, not behind us.
Treasured memories are the “pictures” looking back – but life is lived to the fullest facing into the winds of today and tomorrows!
God has provided, protected, and pushed us through a lifetime of amazing experiences, and I know He will continue to do so as we face the winds of tomorrows! “
Bob Hicks
Nov 5, 2017
What Bob wrote 4 years ago – I was able to use in the Zoom memorial service – video link in my Aug 16 post.

Bob’s New Home in Heaven with Jesus

Betty here:  Bringing you up-to-date why you haven’t had any more posts on the blog from Bob.

July 25 was Bob’s birthday, and he is celebrating it in heaven with Jesus.

A series of miracles and coincidences (I call them God incidences) has happened in the last 3 months that prepared me to be a peace with Bob’s passing.

After my accident  March 23, when the car was totaled and I survived with minor injury – the very next day we got an advertisement about a new Independent living facility – (the Watermark) that I have been sharing about in my  posts on my Facebook page – Betty Hicks –  ( if you haven’t friended me).

Being curious, I looked at Watermark’s website, and told Bob I felt prompted we should check it out.

Here is a summary of what took place the next 2 months:

1.  April 23 – we toured the Watermark facility. We liked what we saw, and in faith, we put down a deposit.

2.  April 26 – the house went on the market and SOLD the next day.

3.  May 27 – got packed and moved to Watermark.

4.  June 23 – Bob went into the hospital.

5.  July 5 – Bob is in heaven with Jesus.

I could tell Bob was having more difficulty with muscle weakness and breathing.

I was at peace knowing Bob was in God’s hand in His time table.  Twice before, when Bob was a teenager and in 2016, he was not expected to live.

I am grateful we were prompted to make the move to Watermark, and had time to get settled and make friends with the residents and staff, before God was ready to take Bob home.

I have had 56 wonderful years of memories that Bob and I shared.  I have shared a few of those treasured  memories in the Zoom  memorial service we did on my Facebook page, and in the link below.

The fact that I am now in a place surrounded with very caring and supportive people has been a blessing.

I will continue sharing my experiences in my new home, and about the wonderful people that I have met and have become part of their family, on my Facebook page.   –  (Betty Hicks)

“Celebration of Life” memorial video


PS: The picture is the announcement the Watermark staff made.

Aloha and blessings,


#5 Watermark

#5 Watermark

I have been learning about the little things that make living in this place interesting, if not  embarrassing.  🙂  

As I was unpacking our things from the big shipping boxes – I would cut them down to stack nicely in a pile outside our door in the hall so the maintenance  guys could pick them up in the morning.  

Normally when you leave the door unlocked to go out –  you can get back in.  Not so with our apartment door !  It was 10:00 pm and I was locked out !   (Luckily I wasn’t in my pajamas.  🙂

I went down to the front desk, hoping someone would still be there.  There was.  Learned we have 24 hour staff available with a night security guy. 

Lesson #1  The only way you can open the door is with the key – whether you leave it locked or unlocked.  (double security) 

They give us this nice little key chain bracelet  – and now I hang it on the door handle so every time I go out I just slip it on my hand.

Oh, that black thing on the key chain – It is a sensor.   

If you enter the building at the main entrance after 8:00 pm when the doors are locked, you can still get in by touching the sensor to the box next to the door, and that opens the door.


Stay tuned for Lesson #2  🙂

#4 Watermark

#4 of Watermark

Our move in date to the Watermark was postpone a week because the apartment was not ready, which was a relief.  I was not ready with things packed.  May 27th was the big move.  

The day we moved in,  sitting on the counter,  was a welcome basket with  all these goodies …..   paper towel, Kleenex, dish washer powder, hand soap, box of trash bags, etc, etc – and a little night light for the bathroom.

When I opened the refrigerator – there was a big bowl of fresh fruit and a large vegetable  tray of vegetables with a dipping sauce!    That was our dinner!  (sorry – I didn’t take a picture)  🙂

I felt we were welcomed as VIP’S !

The residents and staff have been very supportive and friendly – like being welcomed into a large family.  

One of the big benefits I love is I don’t have to cook dinner  🙂  The food has been very good.  The dining room is like an upscale restaurant that you order from a menu with large selection of choices. 


To be contined – Learning about the little things that make living in a place interesting, if not  embarrassing.  🙂  

#3 Watermark

#3 of Watermark

Thursday – April 22 we went to look at the Watermark – a brand new Independent Living building in Trinity near us that just opened in July.

We were greeted by Wendy and some of the staff and given a grand tour of the place. We were very impressed! Here are some of the reasons that influenced our decision that this might be our new home:

1. Brand new building – new apartments
2. The floor plan we liked was available on the top floor which would be our first choice.
3. An attractive move-in bonus
4. A long list of amenities
5. The dining room is like an upscale restaurant that you order from a menu with large selection of choices.
6. Most of all – a flexible eating plan

Most places like this includes 3 meals a day which you are paying for, whether you eat or not. Here you are given credits each month ($500 / person) that you can spend in the dinning room, cafe, hair salon, activities, etc

In analyzing how we could afford the rent – here is what I did:

I had just figured our housing expenses for the year for tax deductions for our business …. mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities (water, electric) internet, HOA dues, lawn care, repairs, etc, etc ….and divided that total by 12 to come out with a monthly housing expense.

Subtracting the $500 credit per person for the food (which I am not spending at the store any more) – to my surprise, it almost matched the monthly rent of Watermark.

We ended up putting a $500 deposit down, with a move-in date of May 21.

Called our realtor – he listed our house Monday and it sold the next day! Wow!

Things were moving fast. I had one month to downsize and pack. Whew!

To be continued. 🙂


#2 Watermark


With no car, we asked a friend to go shopping for us while we shopped for a car online. We started with FORD, because my brother is a retired FORD employee, and could get us a discount. Hard to believe there is no place in this area that installs lifts for mobility scooters. So we called a mobility store in Spring Hill.

Surprise! No American cars have a solid floor in the rear to mount a lift. The salesman recommended a HONDA CR-V – the smallest of the SUV’s, Online, the HONDA CR-V looked possible, so we called the local dealer. The salesman told us they had only one Pre-Owned Certified CR-V on the lot that was in our price range. He drove it over and picked us up, Bob drove us back to the dealership, and a few hours later, we drove home in our new-to-us HONDA SUV.

It is a 2018 HONDA SUV with 4 new tires, and only 32,000 miles on the odometer. It is metallic.  Our new HONDA looks like, feels like, and drives like a NEW car — a little stiff, but Bob is learning to like it.  After a day driving to Spring Hill to get the lift for Bob’s scooter installed, we were now mobile.

The package of information about the WATERMARK Independent Living facility arrived, and we poured over the floor plans. Any apartment with more than one bedroom was out of sight for rent. The apartments that were financially feasible had very little storage space. There was one apartment that looked possible — the PELICAN. It had 1,090 Sq ft, one bedroom, one and one-half bath and a den.

I called our relator friend to find out our chances of selling our house and his response was: “You better find a place first before we put your house on the market.  Houses in this area are selling fast.”

I called Wendy, the WATERMARK sales lady and made an appointment to go tour the facility. That day, Bob went armed with a long list of reasons why we couldn’t make the move —- our house wasn’t sold, not even on the market, and our income was less than the rent.

To be continued. 🙂

#1 Watermark


What happened to Blogger Bob? Our internet service got cancelled – and I’ll explain why – as we begin another major adventure for Bob and Betty.

It began in March. It started as a routine day when Betty left to go shopping.  Then the phone rang. Betty called from the Medical Center ER to tell me she had an accident, and was at ER getting stitches in her forehead, and her lip glued together. “I’m okay”. The car collision triggered the airbag, which had smashed into her face. I also learned her nose was fractured, and probably so was her big toe. “Okay’? REALLY? 

At that moment, a knock on the door interrupted, and I opened to let in two EMT men bringing Betty’s packages from the car. The told me the car was “totaled” and had been towed. The car was totaled, and Betty says she is okay. WHEW!  All I could do was wait and pray.

What a relief when a cab pulled up and Betty came in the door. She had a black eye and a sore big toe. The miracle was she was not wearing glasses when the airbag hit her face. Betty has worn glasses all her adult life, but her eye check last year showed she was seeing 20 20 without glasses. She gives credit to the nutraceutical supplements we have been using for 2 1/2 years. 

The next day, our neighbor Jim took Betty to our eye doctor to check for damage. Her eyes were labeled “beautiful” with no damage to the retina or the gel-like fluid that protects the retina.  In fact, we learned that the gel-like fluid shrinks as we age, but in Betty’s case, the doctor said her eyes looked nice and healthy, and the gel was intact!  Again, we credit the nutraceuticals we use.

In the mail the next day — COINCIDENCE? — was a mass- mailed postcard 

inviting the reader to visit the new WATERMARK Independent Living at Town Center, Trinity. 

Out of curiosity, we looked at the website. It looked amazing!  Long list of amenities, a gourmet restaurant, and a big protected pool looked interesting to me. Betty called and requested their information packet.  Then she said to me; “ I think God is telling us to move.” I covered my face with my hands, and replied: “ARE YOU SERIOUS!”

(I knew moving to an upscale facility was impossible, not feasible, improbable, and unlikely, so I agreed to look at it.)  

We didn’t even have a car to go look at it. That’s another story. So I’ll continue next time.

PS.  If you are curious – here is the website of the Watermark  https://trinity.watermarkcommunities.com/living-choices/independent-living-at-the-town-center/

FLIGHT # 2021

FLIGHT # 2021

I got this from our business partner John, and thought it would give you all a smile to get this year started.
Greetings Friends &  Family.  Welcome to Flight #2021.   ✈️
We are prepared to take off into the New Year.
Please make sure your Attitude and Blessings are secured and locked in an upright position.
All self-destructive devices should be turned off at this time. All negativity, hurt and discouragement should be put away.
Should we lose Altitude under pressure during the flight, reach up and pull down a Prayer.
Prayers will automatically be activated by Faith.
The Captain (GOD) has cleared us for takeoff.
Destination – GREATNESS #2021

Interviewed By My Home Town Newspaper

Interviewed By My Home Town Newspaper

I sent a news release to my home town newspaper in Michigan – the Ionia Sentinel Standard.  The reporter called me for an interview, and then wrote the following article.


IONIA — A former Ionia resident turned his experiences growing on a farm north of M-66 into another children’s rhyming story picture book — this time about a ladybug.

Bob Hicks, who is a member of the Ionia High School Class of 1954, published “The Ladybug Known as Lil” on Oct. 12 — his fourth rhyming children’s book.  It was inspired by Hicks’ memory of growing up on his grandfather’s farm four miles north of Ionia on M-66.

“That was a big influence in my rhyming stories because I was inspired to start writing the stories about my experiences with the critters when I was a kid on the farm,” Hicks said. “I had a pet crow, a pet raccoon and a pony, and just watching bugs and frogs in the backyard lily pool — those were inspirations. Remembering those inspired me to write rhyming stories about those experiences.”

When Hicks was 9, he remembers helping his parents plant a garden and his mother telling him to not harm the ladybugs because they would protect the plants from aphids.

“The Ladybug Known As Lil” tells a tale of the wild west as aphids invade the garden. Lil, singer at the Pumpkin Club, rides her roach through the night to find Bugaroo, sheriff of the garden, to save Pumpkin town from the Aphid Gang.

Hicks’ award-winning books are available on major online booksellers, and are endorsed by the American Dyslexia Association for easier reading by early readers.

“I want the rhyming to be perfect, because that helps kids to make the ear-brain connection for distinguishing sounds and learning to read,” Hicks said.

Hicks added a question and answer section to his books to turn them into a teaching tool.  Hicks is a retired college teacher — having taught speech communication for 24 years at the University of Hawaii.  A special “Things to Learn” section has photos and information about the real insects that are characters in the story.

Hicks said he was an average student his first two years at Ionia High School, but missed a year after becoming paralyzed.

“Because I had matured more and because I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t get out and do things,” he said. “I spent more time studying and started getting good grades for a change.”

Hicks couldn’t get a physical job because he was limited in what he could do, so he decided to stay in school. He chose education as his profession.

“I think education is extremely important,” Hicks said. “I would tell kids to stay in school as long as you can and learn as many things as you can. The more you know, the more options you have, and the more choices you have for your life.”

Kim Grant, Hicks’ nephew, lives on the family farm north of Ionia, and has donated the Ladybug book to the Ionia Community Library.

Hicks has published three other rhyming children’s books: “Tommie Turtle’s Secret,” “Mouse in the Manger” and “Danny the Dragon.” He also has an e-book titled, “Once I Was A Kid With the Wild Things On the Farm.” He has started working on a his fifth, about Katie Caterpillar.

“The caterpillar book is just in the beginning stages,” Hicks said. “I’ve only got a couple of stanzas. We’ll see how fast it comes.

Hicks and his wife, Betty, reside in Florida. They may be contacted through Bob Hicks’ website: robertzhicks.com.

— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at esasiela@sentinel-standard.com.