Dr. Robert John Vokurka, PhD

June 12, 1948 - December 26, 2023

Dr. Robert John Vokurka, PhD, was born June 12, 1948, to John and Charlotte Vokurka of Wheaton, Illinois. He was a naturally inquisitive and bright child who excelled in school and enjoyed following Chicago’s professional sports franchises, especially the Cubs and the Bears. He loved American history and was a patriot of a bygone age when decency to your fellow Americans was more important than getting your way all the time. He talked fondly all his life of family vacations fishing on Michigan’s lakes. While at Wheaton Central High School he participated in the high school band and graduated in 1964.

He continued his education at Albion College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1968. While working for Belden Wire and Cable, he passed his certified public accountant exam and earned a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. Ever the student, Robert passed the Law School Admission Test with such a high score that he was offered membership in MENSA. During this time, Robert welcomed a son, Jay, from his first marriage. In his 26 years of service to Belden, he progressed from a summer intern between his junior and senior years of college to Plant Manager of the year for the entire corporation in 1992.

His last few years of service to Belden were fulfilled in a small town called Jena, Louisiana. There, he met and married the former Rowena Randall and was a faithful and gracious husband to her for the remaining 37 years of his life. In addition, he treated her two children from a previous marriage better than most biological fathers treat their children. He became the ultimate cool uncle for more than a dozen nieces, nephews and eventually grandchildren. He took them on trips to see ballgames out of town, ate ketchup on ice cream for their amusement and later offered the kind of life advice that only a very accomplished relative who is both a literal genius and loves you enough to eat ketchup on ice cream for your amusement when you were six can offer. Upon the birth of his first grandchild, he chose “The Big Bopper” soon shortened to “Bopper” as his grandfather name.

Upon completion of his service to Cooper Belden, which had become a Fortune 500 company during his tenure he chose to risk quite a bit to earn his doctorate in business from the Mays School at Texas A&M University. He served as an associate professor in the Industrial Distribution department at A&M until 1997. He served as an associate professor of business at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi from 1998-2012, leaving the University as a professor emeritus in recognition for his contributions to the school’s academic standing and educational leadership. Academic publications came early and often, as he authored or co-authored more than 50 in his career. Dr. Vokurka’s students often commented regarding how his experience in industry and senses of humor and goodwill set his classroom experience apart.

Robert left his second distinguished professional career and was at something of a loss about what to do next. He decided to attend all the sporting events he had enjoyed watching on television for years. He was at the infamous Kick Six Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl in 2013. He went to the Rose Bowl. He had tickets to the Super Bowl, but the Bears didn’t make it that year, so he sold the tickets for a tidy profit. He wasn’t there when the Cubs clinched the World Series in 2016, but he made it to two of the preceding games, both won by the Cubs. He got season tickets to Northwestern football. He took trips to go fish In Michigan every summer, carefully avoiding the cold. He continued taking children and grandchildren on trips, most recently wearing his 17 year old grandson out walking all over Philadelphia in January 2023. He also completed an 8.2 mile bike ride around Mackinac Island despite being 75 and suffering from a terminal disease.

Dr. Robert J. Vokurka, CPA, MBA and Bopper, met his Savior face to face December 26, 2023, just days after a large family gathering for Christmas.

He is survived by his wife, Rowena; sister, Jean Rooney; sons, Jay Vokurka and Samuel Smith; daughter, Jennifer Smith; grandsons, Joshua Allien and his wife, Lyndi; Adam Smith and Aaron Smith; granddaughters, Abigail Wahl and her husband, Jansen; Grace Allien; Chloe Smith and Phoebe Smith; and great-grandchildren, Quinn Wahl and Asher Allien.

Dr. Vokurka’s cremation arrangements were handled through Broussard’s Crematorium, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 530 West Monroe, Kountze.


Broussard’s Crematorium
  • 5150, Stivers Dr, Beaumont, TX, 77705,

Comments (3)


    To Robert Vokurka’s family,
    I am so sorry for your loss and want you to know that I enjoyed working with Robert for may years at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. I admired Robert immensely for his work ethic and his kindness.
    My thoughts are with all of you.
    Sharon Polansky

    H. Swint Friday, Ph.D., says:

    This is shocking and sad news to hear. Robert is gone way too soon. He was one of a kind. Incredibly diligent, efficient and organized and always on top of things and never let an email set long without a prompt reply. He arrived at the office early in the morning to get his favorite parking spot and put in a very productive 8-hour day at the office. Plus, and most importantly, he was a genuinely nice guy and a great chair and colleague. I am sure his family will miss him dearly as his colleagues at TAMU-CC are missing him.

    Lauren Barrera says:

    Rowena I am so sorry for your loss, I truly believe I was given the opportunity to see him before he died and will always remember him for his love of sports My deepest sympathy and prayers for you and your family

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