Obituary Notices and Memorials


KOKEN, Robert Lyle Bob
KOKEN, Robert Lyle 'Bob' Passed away unexpectedly September 3, 2012, in Lancaster five months past his 90th birthday. Born on April 6, 1922, to Robert and Edith Koken on their family farm near Ruskin, Nebraska, he was the second-youngest of six children. Bob was a curious boy who loved reading, and especially loved learning how to fix things. After graduating from Ruskin High School in 1940, Bob was brought to Southern California by his Aunt Rose. When World War II broke out, Bob entered multi engine flight training and was assigned the duties of a mapping pilot. He flew both the Beech F-2 (photo reconnaissance version of the Twin Beech) and Consolidated PBY-5 aircraft all over the U.S. as well as South America. In 1944, Bob met and married Antoinette 'Toni' Rizzo (later Toni Baker), and eventually had two boys, Robert and Michael. The end of the war found the Koken family in Southern California, where Bob was employed by North American Aviation in Inglewood. Soon, he was asked to report to Muroc Army Air Base to support the company's jet-powered XFJ-1. Bob brought his family temporarily to Mojave, then to Lancaster when housing became available. Bob left North American for General Electric Flight Test in 1952. The move to GE meant a transition from mechanic to Technical Representative and then Flight Test Engineer, and lasted nearly 30 years. Through GE, Bob made an indelible mark on the development of the jet engine, first with the J47-17 and continuing through the J79, J85 and J93, among others. Bob and Toni parted ways in 1955, and he later married Frances 'Francie' Pruite in 1957. Francie brought three teenage daughters to the marriage: Glenda, Wanda and Cherrill. The family continued living in Lancaster except for a brief period when Bob headed up GE's jet engine overhaul facility in Ark City, Kansas. Retiring from GE in 1981, Bob began another life of enjoying hobbies of which repairing autos was his favorite. Bob and Francie also had more time to enjoy their 15 grandchildren and eventually 31 great-grandchildren. Bob lost Francie in 2003, but he found a new life through community service and as a sort of philanthropist. He and son Mike began buying electric wheelchairs, refurbishing them and then providing them to needy members of the community, eventually totaling 27. Bob was a much-loved member of his family and the community, and he will be greatly missed. A celebration of his life will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, September 22, 2012, at Grace Chapel, 44648 15th Street West, in Lancaster.

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