In memory: Frank Robert (Bob) Gartner

Frank Robert (Bob) Gartner passed into the rangelands of heaven on June 26.

Bob was born November 7, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, to Frank Gartner, Jr. and Esther A. (Ebert) Gartner. He grew up in the rural community of Fullersburg and attended elementary and secondary schools in Hinsdale, Ill. He earned his first degree, a B.S. in range management at the University of Wyoming in 1950. After serving two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he was employed by the College of Forestry & Natural Resources at U.C., Berkeley, completing his M.S. degree in range and forest sciences in 1956. Bob started his career teaching range science at SDSU from 1956 to 1964.

In 1964, Bob met Barbara Havorka skiing at Terry Peak. They married that year, beginning their family and lifelong partnership. They moved to Laramie, Wyo., where both embarked on graduate programs. Barb earned her M.A. degree and Bob received his Ph.D.

After graduating, both were employed at Colorado State University where Bob taught range science. Bob and Barb returned to Rapid City in 1968 where Bob was again employed by SDSU. He retired from SDSU in 1998 after nearly 50 years of an esteemed career in range and forest land research and education. Governor Janklow proclaimed January 31, 1998, as ‘F. Robert Gartner Day’ and awarded the lifetime title Professor Emeritus of Range Science.

Bob was an active member of the Society for Range Management and served on the board of directors for 2 years. He was also a member of the SD Section of SRM and served as vice-chair, chairman, and on the board of directors, as well as on various committees. He was a member of the VFW, American Legion, Life Member of Rapid City Elks Lodge 1187, and participated in several local organizations.

Bob loved his work with ranchers. He also studied the use of prescribed fire on range and forested lands. He was the first person to ignite a prescribed burn in the Black Hills. He subsequently conducted prescribed burning on several ranches and properties in the region. He loved working outdoors as well as enjoyed skiing, hunting, and fishing. He and Barb traveled extensively, often with their kids and grandchildren. Spending time with family, friends, and amazing neighbors, often over a glass of wine, were moments he cherished most.

Bob is survived by his wife, Barbara, Rapid City; son, Brett (partner Sue Micone); daughter, Gina Lundstrom (Chad); grandchildren, Jayla, and Alex, of Park City, UT, and Boots, his beloved poodle. He was preceded in death by a brother, Edward, who died as an infant, and his mother, Esther, and father, Frank.

Visitation will be held from 5-6 p.m. July 1st, with a 6 p.m. memorial service at Osheim & Schmidt Funeral Home with interment at 11:30 p.m., Friday, July 2, at Black Hills National Cemetery. A celebration of the life will follow from 4-7 p.m., Friday at Bob and Barb’s home.

One of Bob’s last wishes was to specifically thank all the many landowners, land managers, and students in SD, WY, ND, NE, CO, and CA; all of whom touched his life and helped him to develop a strong land, water, wildlife, and conservation ethic. In lieu of flowers a memorial has been established for the Society for Range Management, South Dakota Section, specifically for undergraduate education to SD-SRM Endowment, 711 N. Creek Dr., Rapid City, Attn Dr. Ehlert. A special thanks to the Hospice and other nurses in Rapid City and Sturgis hospital who cared for him the past two months.