Robert Russell Melcher. Born Feb. 24, 1922, in Sioux City, Iowa, he was the eldest of three sons. The family moved to Ashton, Iowa where he grew up in the house his grandfather, John Melcher, had built by hand. His Aunts, Helen and Susan, kept an eye on Bob and his brother, JD, while Bob’s dad, Tony Melcher, was on the road as a salesman of plumbing supplies. During summers, Bob often traveled with his dad throughout his territory, which stretched from Montana to Wisconsin. After attending St. Mary’s grade school in Ashton, he graduated from Ashton High School in 1939.
Bob attended St. Thomas College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for freshman year and then transferred to the U of M where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1943. He worked for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft for a year before entering the US Navy, where he became a Radioman Second Class and served in the South Pacific theater. Upon discharge in 1946, he returned home to work as a salesman for Layne Drilling Company in Minneapolis.
A redhead, Lorraine Bigelow, caught Bob’s eye at an Annunciation Parish spring dance. He introduced himself, and they had a marvelous evening. Weeks went by before she heard from him again. In fact, she had concluded he was not interested. Easter Sunday, he called at the Bigelow house and asked Lorraine out again. Only then did he reveal that he was sure Lorraine was the kind of girl who would not date during Lent. Before long, Bob wanted to marry her. Lorraine said “yes, but first, I need to complete my St. Catherine’s degree”. A week after graduation, they were married, June 11, 1949.
In July 1950, their first child was born, followed by eight more children over the next 12 years. Bob seldom missed the opportunity to say how proud he was of this family. He was present to them as provider, teacher, man of faith, and barber.
In 1955, he and friends, Wayne Riethmiller, Ralph Eisele and Clarence Berthiaume, founded Tri-State Drilling Company in Hamel, Minnesota. Over the years it has grown to over 70 employees, including members of the various families, working from Alaska to Florida. He treasured the many friends he made during his professional career, finally retiring at the age of 94.
One of Bob’s loves was music. He combined his music with his faith life, singing in Our Lady of Grace choir (1953-1960) and St. Francis Xavier choir (1960-2011). He also shared the gift of his resounding bass voice as lector at St. Francis Xavier. He and Lorraine taught CCD religious education classes to teen members of St. Francis Parish. Bob was also active in Serra Club.
Bob’s community involvement included serving on the Buffalo school board, being a founding member of Buffalo Heights Golf Course, and bass voice in the Buffalo Bisonaire’s men’s chorus.
Bob’s life was built on the foundations of family, faith, fidelity and professionalism. Bob treasured all his relationships, and his generosity improved the lives of many whom he encountered.
Bob was born into eternal life on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. He is survived by Lorraine, his wife of 69 ¾ years; his children, John (Liz) Melcher, Kathy (Randy) Mummert, Mary Kay (Tom) Mans, Greg (Claire) Melcher, Anne (Jim) Leuthner, Steve (Mary) Melcher, Jim (Ruth) Melcher, Charlie (Karen) Melcher, Rich (Sandra) Melcher; twenty grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Ginny (Greg) DiNovis; and brother Tom (Diane) Melcher, and many nieces and nephews.
Bob is preceded in death by his parents, Tony and Nell; step mother, Edwina; his brothers, Sen. John D. Melcher and Patrick; his nephew, David; and grandson, Jesse.
Details:Visitation: Monday, April 29, 2019 4 to 8 PM, St Francis Church- 300 1st Ave NW Buffalo MN.
Funeral Mass: Tuesday, April 30, 2019 11AM, at St Francis Church, with visitation beginning one hour prior to the funeral.Interment immediately following, St Francis Cemetery. Funeral lunch in St Francis Social Hall after the internment.
Memorials in lieu of flowers to Red Cloud Indian School, 100 Mission Drive, Red Cloud SD 57770.
Serving the family is The Peterson Chapel in Buffalo. 763-682-1363. www.thepetersonchapel.com