Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 66° Partly Cloudy
News >  Spokane

WWII veteran Robert Fasbender celebrates 100th birthday

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Warren Robert “Bob” Fasbender has seen a lot in his 100 years, much of it from his home in northwest Spokane near Finch Elementary School.

Like many of his generation, Fasbender taught his son and grandchildren the importance of honesty and integrity. He still believes that a handshake is enough to seal any deal, said granddaughter Patti Deviny.

She remembers spending every holiday at her grandfather’s home while she was growing up. She said he’s the perfect grandfather. “He’s supportive, he’s kind, he’s caring,” she said. “He has a really sharp mind for financing and investing.”

Lonie Farrell and her husband Michael have known Fasbender for about 45 years. She planned a birthday celebration at Fasbender’s home on Saturday with dozens of his family and friends in attendance. “I invited everyone who knows him,” she said.

Farrell met Fasbender through her friend Maggie Ivey, who was Fasbender’s partner for 27 years after his wife died.

“He and my husband used to golf every Monday together until he was 95,” she said. “Now they play poker together.”

Michael Farrell said Fasbender taught him everything he knows. “When he was 85 and I was 49, he taught me how to golf,” he said. “He even beat me for the first couple of years.”

Fasbender was born in North Dakota and his family left for Wyoming when he was 9, settling in Big Horn and Sheridan. “I remember all the buffalo heads laying around on the prairie,” he said.

When he was 15, the family moved to Kellogg where his father worked for a bakery. At 17, Fasbender was behind the wheel of a big rig. “That’s when I started driving truck,” he said.

He joined the Navy in 1941, four months before the U.S. entered World War II. He served for six years as an aviation machinist’s mate. At one point he was part of a group protecting the Panama Canal. “Panama was a hot spot,” he said.

He left the service as a second-class petty officer and then came to Spokane. “I came back here because my folks were here,” he said.

He drove oil tankers for Inland Empire Refinery and in 1949 he married Elsie. They had one son, Larry Fasbender. He drove a truck for several asphalt and produce companies before he started his own company, Produce Supply Express.

An avid trap shooter, Fasbender later opened a store selling guns, ammunition and trap shooting supplies called Trap House. He was inducted into the Trapshooting Hall of Fame after being the only person to win 26 major tournaments, Fasbender said.

His wife died in 1988 and he later met his longtime companion, Maggie Ivey. The two would often spend the winter in Yuma, Arizona. In her later years, Ivey had dementia, Fasbender said. “I kept her here and took care of her until she passed,” he said.

Ivey died in 2015 at the age of 98.

Fasbender likes to joke that every man should have a good woman and a good bird dog during his life. He’s actually had two good women and four good bird dogs, Fasbender said. “I got lucky,” he said.

Though his son had no interest in learning to drive a big rig, he did follow in his father’s footsteps in another way. “I went into the Navy because of him,” Larry Fasbender said.

He was also an aviation machinist’s mate, though he was on an aircraft carrier, which he called “big enough so you don’t get wet.”

He described his father as a good father. “The best there is,” he said. “He was always there.”

Though he’s 100 years old, Fasbender still lives in the same home he’s lived in for decades with the help of friends, one of whom does his grocery shopping every week. “I’ve got a yard man and I have a housekeeper who comes on Fridays,” he said.

Fasbender enjoyed having so many people come to his party, where he handed out name tags and chatted with old and new friends. “It feels good,” he said. “A bunch of nice people.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.