Robert Kiolbassa’s generosity has infused the sausage business that bears his last name


“Be generous. Live generously.

These are the words that stick to Michael Kiolbassa when he thinks of his father, Robert Alfred “Bobby” Kiolbassa, who died on July 20 at home, surrounded by his family.

Kiolbassa died of a heart attack, his son said. He was 84 years old.

Kiolbassa, who took over the reins of Kiolbassa Smoked Meats after the death of his own father, “has never turned down anyone” who asks for a donation, regardless of the cause, his son said.

“Just by looking at the comments on Facebook, the impact he had on people’s lives by donating sausages ”was significant, said young Kiolbassa. “Whether it was for a church or a school, or to help pay for medical bills or someone’s funeral, he was a friend to those who had nowhere else to turn.”

For over 60 years, Bobby Kiolbassa ran the smoked meat business his father founded. At his death, he still held the title of CEO, although he took a step back in day-to-day management around 2012 after a stroke, his son said.

Kiolbassa was only a few credit hours away from earning an accounting degree from St. Mary’s University when her father Rufus Kiolbassa’s brain tumor was diagnosed. When he died two years later, younger Kiolbassa, barely 21, found himself running the business, caring for his mother and much younger sister as well as his own youngster. family.

It was not an easy time, but his faith got him through, said Michael Kiolbassa.

“He told me many times how he relied on his faith during this difficult time to carry it out, how many times God guided him in very difficult situations,” he said.

A devout Catholic, Bobby Kiolbassa graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1954. He was a member of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles Catholic Church in several lay capacities, including choir member, Eucharistic minister layman, cantor and member of the parish council.

In 2000, Kiolbassa was inducted into the Papal Order of Saint Gregory the Great by then Archbishop Patrick Flores. In 2012, he received the Lumen Gentium Prize, awarded to lay Catholics “who have demonstrated their participation in the mission of the Catholic Church to bring the light of Christ to all” by the current Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller.

While Kiolbassa passed on his unwavering faith to all of his children, Michael Kiolbassa said he did not pass on another of his passions: singing.

“He had a great voice and he just loved to sing,” his son said. “He didn’t transmit his voice to any of us!”

Bobby Kiolbassa sang in many local choirs, including the San Antonio Liederkranz, a German male singing group, who noted Kiolbassa’s death on his home page: “The world has lost one of the nicest, sweetest Christian men to walk this earth. He will be sorely missed.

Unsurprisingly, Bobby Kiolbassa loved to cook. He was famous for his crispy fried tacos, homemade enchilada sauce and barbecued ribs. He was also passionate about hunting and fishing.

Although he was never able to return to St. Mary’s to complete his studies, in 2003 the university awarded him the Distinguished Alumni Award and, in May 2021, awarded him an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree for his achievements in business and its commitment to San Antonio. community.

Kiolbassa Smoked Meats celebrated its 70th year in business in 2019, celebrating the milestone with new processing equipment that has allowed the locally grown business to more than double its smoked meats capacity.

Kiolbassa Smoked Meats employees slice the sausages as they come out of the smoking racks for packaging and shipping. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

His father’s generosity, Michael Kiolbassa said at the time, “is really part of our DNA as a company. As we began to grow in Texas and the United States, we really wanted a way to continue that spirit of giving back in the communities that we are now an integral part of, not just in San Antonio.

“He was humble and kind,” said Michael Kiolbassa. “He loved people, and they loved him.”

Born to Rufus and Juanita Kiolbassa on January 10, 1937 in San Antonio, Bobby Kiolbassa is survived by his wife, Linda, and their four children and spouses: Kathy and Clem Spalding, Michael and Nita Kiolbassa, Julie and John Yancy, and Amy and William Meyers, along with their grandchildren and spouses.

Visitations will be on Sunday July 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Porter Loring Chapel, 1101 McCullough Ave .; the rosary will follow at 7 p.m. On Monday, July 26, Mass is scheduled for 11 am at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Padua, 102 Lorenz Rd. Mass will be broadcast live; the link can be found in his obituary page.


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