Robert L. “Bob” Booker, 88, passed away peacefully at his home on July 1, 2023, surrounded by family.
He was born in Monmouth, IL on June 27, 1935, to Russell Booker and Thelma Oleta (Cox) Bulak. He married the love of his life, Janice Skowronski, on August 27, 1955, and was married sixty-five years prior to her death in 2021.
He spent nearly his entire life in the Illinois Valley. Growing up in DePue, he was a proud recent inductee to the IV Sports Hall of Fame as a starter on the DePue HS boys' basketball team in the early ‘50’s. After high school, he served overseas in the US Marines, and due to the troop withdrawal from the Korean War he was fortunate enough to become a member of the US Marines basketball team. Upon his return to the Illinois Valley, he gained notoriety by owning and operating multiple well-known businesses over the years with the most popular being Bob’s Sporting Goods in LaSalle, Bob’s Family Restaurant (Peru Root Beer Stand), Whiteway Tavern in Peru, and TB Amusements on Route 6 in LaSalle.
He was a devoted husband and father, but his two greatest traits were his endless pursuit to make everyone’s life around him better and his behind-the-scenes philanthropy. His passion was playing in various gaming tournaments (prior to the poker boom) in Las Vegas and around the country. He was both a feared and admired competitor and built lasting relationships with many of the participants. He prided himself on being an exceptional tournament player and notched several wins highlighted by his $50k first place finish at Beau Rivage in Mississippi on the day of his 50th wedding anniversary as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf Coast. He loved to tell the tale of narrowly escaping the closing of the bridge by mere minutes and avoiding spending his golden anniversary at the Superdome amongst the floodwaters and filth.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, his stepfather, Edward Bulak and his grandson, Brandon Booker. He is survived by his three sons Keith (Carol) of Pensacola, FL, Jeff (Jan) of Spring Valley, Robert (Lori) of Algonquin, ten grandchildren, and countless great-grandchildren, as well as two brothers, Tim Bulak of Spring Valley, and Edward Bulak of Naperville.
Visitation will be in the annex at St. Valentine’s Church on Friday, July 7 from 9:30-11:45 am with a 12:00 PM mass of Christian Burial to follow. Burial will be in St Vincent Cemetery. The Peru Veteran’s Memorial Group will conduct Graveside Honors. Ptak Funeral Home is assisting with the arrangements.
Online condolences and memories may be shared at PtakFH.com