Cover photo for Robert Lawrence Viera "Bob"'s Obituary
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Robert Lawrence Viera "Bob"

September 28, 1934 — April 9, 2023

Robert Viera went home to be with the Lord on April 9, 2023.

He was born September 28, 1934, in Bay City, Michigan, to the late John and Margaret Viera. He attended and graduated from Sacred Heart Seminary High School and attended one year of college at the same seminary school in Detroit, MI. After leaving Sacred Heart Seminary, he attended and graduated from Bay City Junior College, followed by Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. His postgraduate work was done at the University of Michigan and Saginaw Valley State University.

He taught at St. Joseph’s High School from 1958-1960 while coaching varsity basketball and track. He was the first African-American coach in the city of Saginaw, MI. He moved into the Saginaw School District in 1961. There he taught at Martha Longstreet for two years and then on to Central Junior High School for the next six years. During his educational career, he served two terms as President of the Saginaw Federation of Teachers.

Known as the “quiet leader,” Mr. Viera later served in a number of positions with the Saginaw County Committee Action Center, Inc. Under his watch, the agency operated and managed as many as seventeen federally funded programs. In the last twenty-four years of his tenure at CAC, he served as the Executive Director. In that period, he served on numerous boards and committees that dealt with addressing poverty. He was actively involved with the Model Cities Program, Manpower Programs at C.E.T.A. and J.T.P.A, Osteopathic Hospital Trustee/Director, Health Planning organizations, and countless other groups as Operation Equality.

Later, he accepted the role of Director of Saginaw County Child Development Center Inc., where he served for five years. The program enrolled more than 1,200 three and four-year-old children throughout Saginaw Country.

In 1997, the civil rights leader retired to enjoy a life of leisure, travel, intrinsic puzzles, and spending time with family.

Mr. Viera is survived by his beloved wife, Shirley Viera of sixty-three years, two daughters, Michelle Viera of Nashville, TN and Stephanie Viera of Red Oak, TX. He is also survived by his three grandchildren who are near and dear to his heart: Bené Viera of Los Angeles, CA; Devon Troublefield of Dallas, TX; and Alexis Troublefield of Ruston, Louisiana.

He is also survived by his siblings John (Carolyn) Viera, Barbara (Woody) Haines, and Edwin (Roxanne) Viera. He is preceded in death by Paul Viera, Frances Viera, and Leonard Viera.

His nieces and nephews Maria (Clive) Thomas, Theresa (Kelly) O’Brien, Paul (Gail) Viera, Denise Viera, Anthony Viera, Ronald Viera (Telma), Derwood (Theresa) Haines, Amy (Brian) Howell, David Viera (Yolanda), and Margaret (Jon) Viera.

He is survived by several grandnieces and grandnephews: John, Allison, Kenneth Viera; Megan and Mia O’Brien; Clay and Lillian Thomas; Nathaniel, Michael, Hendrix, Isabella, and Ronaldo Viera; Alexander, Redding, and Roan Haines, Lauren, and William Howell; and Devin and Madison, Nia, Myla Viera.

Robert Viera was a true role model and inspiration to people of all generations. He was a giant in his community and the city of Saginaw. He dedicated his life to fighting poverty and giving people the tools and resources to advocate for themselves. He shunned public accolades because, for him, it was about the work and making a difference. Anyone who had the opportunity to know and love him was blessed.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial offering to the Saginaw Community Foundation (SCF) Robert Viera/CAC Scholarship Fund or the charity of your choice. SCF located at 1 Tuscola Street, Suite 100 B, Saginaw, Michigan 48607; phone (989)755-0545.

Robert Viera will be in entombment at Oaklawn Mausoleum.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Lawrence Viera "Bob", please visit our flower store.

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