Bob Atherton

Bob was born January 16, 1938, in Wichita, KS.  He was passionate about baseball and competitive swimming as a young boy, but gave up baseball to attend Oklahoma University on a swimming scholarship, hoping to participate in the Olympics.  He soon realized that science would take him farther than swimming and graduated from OU with a degree in biology.  He earned his Master’s Degree from Wichita University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Bob met Mary Jo Mullen at WU.  His first words to her were, “I remember you when you wore pigtails.”  They enjoyed many adventures in their 51 ½ years of marriage.  Their daughter Jodie came along in 1970.  Bob loved her, worried about her, and wanted only the best for her.

He was passionate about his career at UW as a scientist, researcher, and teacher.  He received a grant for $6.9 million from the National Institutes of Health in 2000, the largest grant at the time for extramural research support at UW.  His research introduced him to colleagues and new friends all over the world.

Bob’s father and favorite uncle were Masons.  He wasn’t able to follow in their footsteps until his retirement but quickly became a 32nd Degree Mason in 2010.  His fellowship with the Laramie Masons was important and he wanted his memorial in the Masonic Temple.

Bob’s love of horses led to owning horses, building a barn, and competing in 25, 50 and 100 mile races.  This led to numerous injuries and hospitalizations, so not his smartest passion!  He should have stuck to gardening, another passion.

All Bob’s friends (horsie and otherwise) are invited to a memorial and reception at the Masonic Temple, 401 Ivinson, Sunday, February 28, 1:00 pm.  Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Laramie.

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Condolences (7)

  • Bill and Carrie Murdoch

    Mary Jo and family, we send our deepest sympathy to you and your family. We will always have such fond memories of Bob as our friend and our neighbor (and my teacher in biology class). We hope your wonderful memories help to get you through this difficult time. Bill & Carrie Murdoch

  • Charles E. Moore

    I enjoyed the last seven years with Bob as he served as a Commissioner of the Wyoming Pari-Mutuel Commission. My first meeting with Bob was in Cheyenne he had two black eyes and a broken nose, I will never forget that day and working with Bob. Thanks for your friendship and our long talks.

  • Mantha Phillips

    Bob was one of a kind...intelligent, easy going, smart about the dynamics of horse racing. I'm very sad to say good bye, but grateful to have known him. Mantha Phillips

  • Donald Murphy

    May God hold him in his hands, and bring peace to his family. He was one the most intelligent people I have ever known. He will be missed.

  • Jeannie Johnson

    I'll always remember Bob for his laugh, intelligence and passion (dare I say zest!) for life. He never shied away from trips to far away, exotic lands - including Niagara Falls.. A few years ago, we were on the Maid of the Mist, all in our bright yellow rain ponchos and all inside the boat - except Bob. He was standing on deck being soaked from the falls - loving every minute of it. He had a great gift of e-gab and to the last, his emails were funny, thoughtful and always spiked with jabs at the recipients. He is already missed by many.. Mary Jo, Jodie and Kirk, loving thoughts to you all. Jeannie and Paul

  • Kay Kohler

    One-of-a-kind, lover of life, horseman extraordinaire - these phrases describe our dear friend Bob. We are fortunate to have shared time with this remarkable man over many years, and will miss him. He is now reunited with his horses, dogs and cats, and loved ones who preceded him in death. Our love to Mary Jo, Jodie and Kirk. Bob's passing will leave a hole in your lives; may wonderful memories help to fill that void. You're in our thoughts… Kay & Eric

  • Eugene & Karen Joyce

    Bob was a friend and advocate for the Horse Industry here in Wyoming. He brought his wisdom, common sense and passion to his role as a Wyoming Pari-mutuel Commissioner. His passion for the Horse and where it could take you in this Life was evidenced in both his words and actions as President of the Commission and in his personal life. It was that passion that helped resurrect our industry over the last five years. We were as dead as last night’s campfire but Bob was there to help fan the old embers that produced a flame that has produced a light for all to see in the Horse Industry. We will always be grateful for his keen intellect that was fueled by his passion that helped save our industry. Bob, keep that campfire burning bright so that our horses can find their way to it when we meet again on the other side. Mary Jo and Family, our deepest condolences on your loss. On behalf of a grateful industry, thank you for sharing Bob with us. His impact on Horse Racing here in Wyoming will be felt forever. Eugene & Karen Joyce Wyoming Horse Racing, LLC


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