Sergeant Major Robert D. Tikkanen, 68, of Joplin, MO passed away in his wife’s arms on Thursday, November 24, 2011 from GIST. He was born on May 22, 1943 in Portland, Maine to Henry J. Tikkanen and Rena St Pierre-Tikkanen of Norway, Maine.

Robert was raised in Norway, Maine, graduated from Oxford Hills High School, Norway, Maine in 1962 and attended Boston University. He completed a 25 year career in the US Army and retired. Sergeant Major Tikkanen served in Vietnam with the elite 199th Light Infantry Brigade “the Redcatchers” in Long Binh and Bien Hoa, Vietnam, as well as other units in Korea, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Washington D.C. and multiple other locations in the continental US.

Robert married Patricia Louise DeGroat of Aurora, CO in Denver in 1979. They have lived in many locations around the world, as they both continued their Army careers. They moved to Joplin, MO in 1996 where Robert worked in Information Systems at Freeman Health System until his retirement in 2008. He was an active member of Peace Lutheran Church and volunteered his time to support the House Incorporated of Joplin, MO, and was an active supporter of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Life Raft Cancer Support Group for GIST Cancers.

He was preceded in death by both his parents Henry and Rena, his step-father Osmond Towne, a brother Peter Towne and a sister Catherine Towne.

Robert is survived by his wife Pat of Joplin, MO.; his daughter Michelle Liliedahl and husband David of Essex Junction, VT; and his sons Troy Tikkanen and wife Linda of Laconia, NH; and Chris Tikkanen-Kokkola and wife Heidi of Helsinki, Finland. He leaves behind 6 beautiful and beloved grandchildren (Morgan and Nick Liliedahl; Nicole and husband Don Levesque, Mike Tikkanen; and Hannah Kokkola); and 1 great grand-daughter (Liliana Lloyd- Miller). His beloved dogs will miss him greatly (Pele, Nani and Kiko).

He leaves a brother Glenn Tikkanen and wife Pam of Norway, Maine; a brother-in-law Bob DeGroat and wife Susan of Clackamas, OR; and a sister-in -law Debbie Kohtz and husband Neal of Bozeman, MT.

He was blessed with 32 wonderful nieces and nephews (Kelly Judkins, Laurie Marston; Nisa Noble, Tiffany, Wyatt, Isabel, Travis and DJ Noble; Eric and Melissa Tikkanen, Jordan, Morgan, and Alexis Tikkanen; Krista and Gary Clay, Brianna , Gary Jr. and Kobi Clay; Alyssa and Pete Morrison, Tres’ and Caleb Morrison; Monica Uwajeh; Amy and Chris Washtok, Andrew and Ryan Washtok; Ben DeGroat; Fabia and Faith Kohtz; Joshua Kohtz; and Kristopher Kohtz).

Memorial Contributions may be made to the Life Raft Group in support of GIST Cancer Research in honor of Robert Tikkanen.