Robert William Eklund, Jr. passed away peacefully at his home on Feb. 24, 2017. The second of four children, he was born Aug. 15, 1920, in Lindsborg, Kan., to Robert William, Sr. and Daveta Childs Eklund. Bob attended McPherson County and Saline County elementary schools. He went to Bavaria H.S. and then Lindsborg, Kan., High School where he graduated in 1938.
Bob attended Bethany College in Lindsborg and was a science major playing football, basketball, track and semi-pro baseball in the summer. In his spare time, he worked on the family farm. Then came WWII; he dropped out of college, joined the Army Air Corps and became a licensed pilot on Aug. 11, 1942. Bob, upon his discharge, worked as an "Army Half-Track" inspector at Camp Phillips, Salina, Kan. During this time period, he attended Salt City Business College at Hutchinson, Kan., graduating with a business degree and Teacher's Qualifying Certification. After working as an accountant in Hutchinson for one year, Bob returned to Bethany College to finish his last three semesters and to play his last year of football.
He married Alice Jefferies on July 2, 1945, and celebrated 71+ years of love. Upon receiving his degree from Bethany College, Bob returned to Salt City Business College as an instructor for one year. His dream was to teach high school students and coach football, basketball and baseball, and that dream became reality when he accepted his first teaching/coaching position in Arapaho, Colo. The next 35 years were spent in Colorado schools, with the majority of those years in Cedaredge. He viewed everyone he ever taught or coached as important to his life and developed deep relationships with students and peers. Bob's Christian faith was strong, and he was integral in the life of the churches he attended.
Bob never missed the opportunity to learn something new and pursued a wide number of interests throughout his life: wheat farming as a young man; business accounting (Delta County Federal Teachers Credit Union early years); photography (get out the slide shows); sang bass in the Messiah, other choirs and quartets; oil painted for 70 years after instruction by Birger Sandzen; wildflowers; mushrooms; geology; archeology; historical sites and events; astronomy; hunting (birds, deer, elk); fishing (particularly fly fishing), et. al.
Mr. Eklund is survived by: his wife, Alice; sister, Florence Shogren; and six children: Connie Bray, Larry (Celia) Eklund, Mary Ann (Marty) Rathburn, Shellee (Richard) Starr, Wayne (Rose) Eklund, and Scott (Syndi) Eklund, as well as 12 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Daveta Eklund, his brother, Gene, sister, Jane McMurray, and one granddaughter, Kim Bryant.
A memorial service was held at the Grand Mesa Southern Baptist Church in Cedaredge on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 11 a.m. The service was followed by reception and dinner.
Memorial contributions to HopeWest Hospice PO Box 24, Delta, CO 81416
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory.
View the internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at www.taylorfuneralservice.com.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.