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90th Anniversary Commemorative Issue

The foundation
 
Robert Bruce McCoy brings a vision to life

      Robert Bruce McCoy, Fort McCoy's namesake, was born in Kenosha, Wis., Sept. 5, 1867. 

A McCoy family portrait taken in 1917 at 421 East Oak St., Sparta, Wis. Seated in the center is Bruce Elisha McCoy. From left to right are Robert Bruce McCoy (son of Elisha), Bruce Riege McCoy (son of Robert Bruce), Alexander Gibbon (nephew of Robert Bruce), Robert Charles and Malcom Clark McCoy (both sons of Robert Bruce). File photo

A McCoy family portrait taken in 1917 at 421 East Oak St., Sparta, Wis. Seated in the center is Bruce Elisha McCoy. From left to right are Robert Bruce McCoy (son of Elisha), Bruce Riege McCoy (son of Robert Bruce), Alexander Gibbon (nephew of Robert Bruce), Robert Charles and Malcom Clark McCoy (both sons of Robert Bruce). (File photo)

      Shortly after his birth, his family moved to La Fayette Township, Monroe County, where his father, Bruce Elisha McCoy, engaged in milling. 

      In 1876, a spring flood swept away the mill property, and the family moved to Sparta to resume the milling business.

      "Bob," as he generally was known, graduated from Sparta High School in 1887 and distinguished himself there as being a leader in school activities, most notably athletics.  He entered the University of Wisconsin, College of Letters and Science, after high school graduation and made the varsity baseball team in his first year.

      In 1890 he played semi-professional baseball at Ashland, Wis., and later returned to the University and became captain of the varsity baseball team.

The official portrait of Robert Bruce McCoy as a colonel. (File photo)
The official portrait of Robert Bruce McCoy as a colonel. (File photo)

      McCoy graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1891.  In 1893, he became publisher of the Monroe County Democrat and married Lillian Riege of Platteville, Wis.  To this union, six sons and one daughter were born.

      In 1894, he opened a law office in Sparta.  Soon thereafter, he became interested in politics and accepted the Democratic nomination for District Attorney in 1894 and again in 1896.             

     In the spring of 1897 he was elected Monroe County Judge and subsequently served 16 years.  He was elected mayor of Sparta in 1920, and in the same year was nominated for governor of Wisconsin, a position he might have held if it were not for the physical restraints of his ill health.

Maj. Gen. Robert Bruce McCoy in about 1925. (Photo provided by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.)
Maj. Gen. Robert Bruce McCoy in about 1925. (Photo provided by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.)

Robert Bruce McCoy was the epitome of the citizen-soldier.  His military career spanned 31 years and included service in the Spanish American War, the punitive action in Mexico, and World War I.  Among his awards for valor was the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Croix de Guerre. 

      He was instrumental in forming the 32nd Division Association and became its first president. 

      On Dec. 20, 1920, he was commissioned brigadier general, commanding the 64th Infantry Brigade, Wisconsin National Guard. 

      In 1924 he was promoted to major general and commanded the 32nd Infantry Division (the Red Arrow Division), Wisconsin and Michigan National Guard. 

      Robert Bruce McCoy died Jan. 5, 1926 from pernicious anemia. In November of that year the post was renamed in his honor.

 

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