The following story appeared in the January 27 Idaho Catholic Register.
Charles Robert “Bob” Tanner, a beloved, longtime teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Boise passed away on Dec. 29, 2022, in Price, Utah.
After teaching at St. Mary’s for 13 years, he returned in later years to become the school’s director of Development and Alumni Relations.
In addition to teaching several classes, he later introduced art, mu-sic, drama and speech classes to the school. He encouraged students to participate in athletics and, with the help of student athletes, built a track-and-field facility at the school.
“Bob Tanner was a multi-talented, multi-gifted individual who worked magic in his classrooms, motivating, challenging, and inspiring his students and constantly urging them to ask life’s big questions,” said Sister Clarissa Goeckner, OSB, a longtime colleague who hired Tanner when she was principal at St. Mary’s. “Most of all, he was an amazing human being, whose motto might well have been, to quote the poet John O’Donohue: ‘Each of us is an artist of our days; the greater our integrity and awareness, the more original and creative our time will become.’ ”
Bob Tanner was born September 28, 1940, to Jean and Dallas Tanner in Tulsa. From first grade in a Catholic school across from his home in Tulsa to the University of Utah, where he finished his formal education in Art and Anthropology, he made his way to Boise, where he hoped to get employment in the insurance industry.
However, the Lord had other plans. In September 1966, Monsignor John Creegan, pastor of St. Mary’s School, desperately needed a seventh-grade teacher after the current teacher quit one month into the new school year. Monsignor Nicholas Hughes at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist told Monsignor Creegan that Bob Tanner would make a suitable candidate. Tanner told Monsignor Creegan that he did not feel prepared to be a teacher, but was eventually persuaded to take the position despite a low salary.
His first day on the job, Mr. Tanner won the admiration of even the most cynical teenage boys when he arrived dressed in fashionable business attire and driving an Alfa Romeo sports car. Despite his inexperience, he quickly proved to be a natural, innovative teacher who brought to his classes not only a passion for learning, but also an innate ability and desire to teach. His first love was social studies, with history and geography running a close second. A gifted artist, Tanner soon implemented an art program for St. Mary’s students, as well as programs in choral music, drama, and speech.
In all subjects, he challenged his students to achieve far more than they believed they could. For instance, he often gave college-style lectures and taught the students to take lecture notes in outline form, a skill that would prove invaluable in high school and beyond.
A firm believer in developing the “whole person,” Tanner encouraged students to participate in athletics, especially those who had never tried. He enlisted his athlete-recruits to build a track-and-field facility on one of the school’s playgrounds. Many of his
“first-timers” went on to successful high school athletic careers.
Tanner taught at St. Mary’s from 1966-1979, after which he left teaching to work in the corporate world. Although successful at these jobs, he always felt the calling to teaching and public service. So, after leaving these jobs, he focused his skills on helping homeless people in Utah, devoting many years as a volunteer for VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), an anti-poverty program.
In 2011, Tanner returned to St. Mary’s School at the invitation of Principal Marianne White Pelletier. He served for several years as the school’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations.
After retiring to his home in Price, Utah, he still found his way back to the classroom. From 2013 to 2015, he performed teacher evaluation and substitute teaching at Pinnacle Canyon Academy a charter school in Price. He also served on the library board in Price. Up until the time of his death, he stayed in contact with his former students, continuing to guide and motivate them.
Those wishing to make donations to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Mr. Tanner’s memory may do so by contacting the school office at (208) 342-7476.
Information for this obituary supplied by Pete McQuade and Marianne White Pelletier, former principal at St. Mary's Catholic School in Boise.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.