Brookings: Aug. 26, 1926 - Feb. 24, 2024

Robert ‘Bob’ Bartling


Robert “Bob” Bartling, age 97 of Brookings, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, at the Brookings ER.
Visitation will be from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, March 3, at Eidsness Funeral Home. A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 4 at First Presbyterian Church in Brookings. A private family burial will precede the celebration.
Robert Wilbur Bartling was born on Aug. 26, 1926, in Brookings, SD, the son of Earl R. and Daisy (Lawrence) Bartling. Bob attended school in Brookings and graduated from Brookings High School in 1944, and was the Home Coming King that year.
While in high school and college, Bob participated in football, basketball, and track. He attended SDSU and lettered in all three sports. On Feb. 8, 1945, Bob enlisted in the United States Air Force where he faithfully served for one year during World War II. Upon his return, Bob returned to college at the University of Minnesota where he received a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration. He continued his studies and graduated from St. Louis College of Mortuary Science in 1952. On June 11, 1949, Bob married the love of his life, Katherine Jean Taylor in Brookings.
Bob worked for the Standard Oil Company in Mankato and Tracy, Minnesota before returning to Brookings and joining the Bartling Furniture and Funeral Home in 1952. Together with his brother Lorne, they operated the Bartling Furniture store for over 30 years. Bob also operated a shoe store and sold Nike Shoes from 1969-2009. Bartling’s was the first Nike dealer in South Dakota.
Bob and Jean raised two children; Daughter Jane was born in Tracy, MN, in 1952 and son David was born in Brookings in 1954. The couple faithfully attended First Presbyterian Church in Brookings where Bob had been a member since 1940. He held various positions throughout his church life including being a Deacon, sitting on the Board of Trustees, and was named Outstanding Senior Presbyterian in 2016.
Bob was involved with numerous activities throughout his life. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 24, A.F. & A.M., Brookings York Rite Bodies; American Legion, and Elks Lodge No. 1940.
He was a charter member of the Prairie Striders, and helped lay out the Jack 15 course from White to Brookings in 1969. He also helped to facilitate the first marathon in Brookings in 1970, called the Longest Day Marathon. Bob ran the Jack 15 thirty-eight times (setting a record for number of times ran), the last one being when he was 89 years old. Bob was a dedicated volunteer at the Briggs Library as the Prairie Striders Librarian. He recorded thousands of articles into card files from track and field and wrestling. He will also be remembered for his love of bike riding, especially the Michelson Trail with his daughter, Jane and son, Dave. He rode the trail last year at the age of 97, setting the record for the oldest person to do so. If there was a sporting event in Brookings, you could have expected Bob to be there. In 2009, Bob and his brother Herb were inducted into the Brookings High School Sports Hall of Fame. Bob also truly enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, fishing, and golfing.
Survivors include his daughter, Jane (John) Christensen of Haskell, OK; son, Dave (Judy) Bartling of Brookings; brother, Herb Bartling of Vancouver, Washington; grandchildren, Joann (Scott) Kibbey, Kathryn (Boris) Koeten, and Ben Bartling; five great-grandchildren; two step grandchildren, Tammy (Burdell) Gauger and Rick (Carrie) Willemssen; six step great-grandchildren; and three step great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl and Daisy; wife Jean, two sisters, Margaret and Caroline; and two brothers, George and Lorne.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to the First Presbyterian Church in memory of Jean Bartling.