Robert Francis ‘Gobby’ Ayotte
PALMER, MI – Keeping in tune with the way he lived, Robert stayed true to his word, “wake up and keep it moving.” Robert passed away peacefully at Marquette County Medical Care Facility, on Sunday, May 8th, 2022, where he reluctantly resided since August, 2021. He was 94 years old, he always wanted to make it to 100. Robert gave his late wife, Jean (Miljour), the best Mother’s Day gift he could by joining her that afternoon.
Gobby was born September 10th, 1927, in Ishpeming, to Clifford J. and Pearl (Nault) Ayotte. He enlisted in the United States Navy and was honorably discharged in 1945, in Shoemaker, CA. Following his service to his country, he graduated from Negaunee St. Paul High School. Gobby met Jean at St. Paul’s and they united in marriage November 20th, 1948, in Palmer, during a snow storm during deer season. They were married 73 years before Jean passed November 18th, 2021, and together they raised their four children, in Palmer.
Surviving are his children: Steve (Jilaine) of Negaunee Township, Cindy (Jim) Branch of Arizona, Mark (Carol) of Phoenix and Michelle (Fran Nelson) Pirkola of Palmer; brother-in-law, Dave Dompierre of Negaunee; grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Bobbi (Braeylnn and Nevaeh) Ayotte and Ryan (Nicki) Ayotte (Carly and Maddie), Danielle Pinette, Jerry Pirkola and Sara (Tanner) Uren, Kelsey (Joseph) Rossi and Kaylin Ayotte; special cousins: Dewey (Jean) Ayotte, special nieces and nephews: Dave (Linda), Dennis (Jill), Dean (Jill) and Dan Dompierre.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Emma and Ed Miljour; sister, Donna ‘Tun’ Dompierre, brother-in-law, Tony (Darlene) Miljour, and sister-in-law, Elaine (Arthur) Hyttinen.
Gobby had many people he liked to call his friends. He never had a biological brother, but he had many brothers! He made his career as a maintenance worker in the iron ore mines, working at the Cliff Shaft, Tracy, Pioneer, Empire and Tilden Mines. Gobby was a strong union man and a very hard worker. He was a talented ‘sharp shooter’ in the Michigan National Guard, a past member of the Richmond Township Board as a Trustee and was always involved in Palmer politics. He was a fireman, EMT, fire chief (having the privilege of delivering a baby in the Palmer ambulance on the way to Marquette), past president of Marquette County Firefighters Association and UP Firefighters Association, devout member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, where he did everything but say a Mass, member of Little Lake American Legion, Negaunee Knights of Columbus, charter member of Richmond Township Community Club, where he served on the board for many years and was the oldest active member.
Gobby was very active and social throughout his long life. He coached St. Paul High School baseball, played semi-pro football for the Ishpeming Bombers (because he liked the $100/game), raced stock-cars and dune buggies which he built, raised many beagles, played fastpitch softball, horseshoes, bowling, reffed basketball for 36 years, coached little league baseball, and loved watching his kids and grandkids in sporting events. He enjoyed playing cribbage and smear, shot a mean game of pool and loved dancing with Jean. Gobby played Santa Claus for many years giving candy to the Richmond Township kids, but his favorite part was visiting the Palmer Nursing Home. He deer hunted into his late 80s and usually bagged his buck. This meant he and Jean celebrated their Wedding Anniversary in early December!
Gobby had a vast knowledge of how to fix things (the easy but right way) and was always willing to share his garage and tools. He was a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. He enjoyed life and was the oldest elder of the Ayotte family. He was a happy go lucky person who had a lot of fun. Gobby loved get-togethers at his camp that he and his father-in-law built on Little Perch Lake on CR581, and later at his son’s camp on ‘southside’ Dead River Basin.
Gobby was a devoted and supportive father and husband to his family, and loved his grandchildren more than they know! He had many sayings: “I’m a rich man, rich with a lot of good friends.” “If you plant potatoes, you get potatoes.” “He/she is smart as a fox.” “How’s your bad behavior?” and true to his word, “He smiled and that’s all he could say.”
We are going to miss you Dad and Grandpa! Safe journeys and say “hi” to Mom. Wish we could touch heads and share a smile once more. Goodbye best friend and father!
A celebration of Jean and Gobby’s lives will be held this summer and will be announced by Koskey Funeral Home.
His memorial page may be viewed at koskeyfuneralhome.com.