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Columbia Missourian

Don Robert Webb, former MU professor, loved family, gardening, traveling

By Teresa Avila
June 2, 2012 | 6:56 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — As much as Don Robert Webb loved to travel, he remained a Missouri man who always returned to his family, friends and garden.

Dr. Webb died Tuesday, May 29, 2012 in Phoenix. He was 83.

Dr. Webb was born in Jasper on Aug. 2, 1928 to Roy and Thelma Webb. He was the eldest of four children, and carried much responsibility for his siblings, his sister June Webb-Vignery said.

Webb-Vignery said that when she was born, her brother, then 10, used her as his show-and-tell at school. When she got older, she would sit in his bicycle basket as he rode.

"He was really a strong person," Webb-Vignery said.

When he was 17, Dr. Webb enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Webb-Vignery sent him letters with sticks of chewing gum in them, even if it was against the rules.

After serving with the Marines, Dr. Webb joined the United States Air Force.

He married Mary Catherine McNerney on Feb. 14, 1954. The couple moved to El Paso, Texas, until Dr. Webb’s term of active duty with the Air Force was finished.

After moving back to Missouri, Dr. Webb earned bachelor's and master's degrees at MU and a doctorate in finance from the University of Illinois. He was a professor at the MU business school from 1963 to 1993.

Dr. Webb had a life-long love for gardening, his daughter, Maret Webb Vehr, said. She cannot recall a time when her family didn't have a garden.

Dr. Webb and his wife grew flowers, tomatoes and eggplants, among other things, and he had a basket of fuchsias hanging on his porch, Webb Vehr said.

"He’d say, 'I really wish you’d take more pleasure in things of the earth,' " Webb Vehr said. “That really opened my eyes.”

In his later years, when he'd ceased keeping a vegetable garden, Dr. Webb enjoyed going to the Saturday Columbia Farmers’ Market with his dog, Voss. He always arrived when the market opened to buy fresh produce and socialize, Webb Vehr said. 

Dr. Webb loved to cook and travel, his long-time friend Dona Sue Cool said. His favorite city to visit was Toronto. He would keep in touch with the people he met while traveling as a financial consultant, Cool said.

"He was one who enjoyed his friends a great deal, especially those with whom he did consulting," Cool said. "He always expressed appreciation for their talents and abilities."

Dr. Webb showed the same appreciation for his students, neighbors and especially his family, Cool said. He was extremely proud of his two children, his son-in-law, daughter-in-law and his four grandchildren, she said.

Dr. Webb is survived by a sister, Webb-Vignery of Tucson, Ariz.; a daughter, Webb Vehr and her husband, Tony Vehr, of Phoenix; a son, Robert Webb and his wife, Monica Webb, of Highland, Calif.; and four grandchildren, John Webb, Michelle Webb, Ashley Webb and Joseph Webb.

His wife, Mary Webb; his brother, Richard Webb; and his sister, Jewel Porter, died earlier.

Interment services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, June 18, 2012, at Park Cemetery, 801 S. Baker Blvd. in Carthage.