Robert (Bob) Gordon Eckstrom, 96, of Silver Bay, MN, passed away peacefully on Saturday July 1st. He was born March 18, 1927 on the family farm near Randall, MN, the son of Robert and Esther Eckstrom.
Bob graduated from Little Falls High School when he was 17. He then was recruited by the Navy C.B. He served in Guam, Tinian, and Saipan. Discharged from the Navy, Bob went to work for Evenrude Motors in Milwaukee, WI.
In 1946 the plant shut down for a couple of weeks and Bob and two of his friends traveled their way west to Dallas, Oregon. While there, he got a job with Gerlinger Carrier as a millwright machinist. In July of 1951 he met Ruby at a dance in Salem, Oregon. He asked her out and took her to the circus.
They dated until June 27, 1952 when they were married at Ruby’s sis-ter house in Salem. Jim Fuiten walked her down the aisle to “Onward Christian Sol-diers”. Their honeymoon was a fishing trip in Vancouver, Canada where Ruby caught the biggest fish. Bob joined Dicers car club in Salem. He and his neighbor Dick Burson became friends and they started drag racing his street car, a 1950 Ford coupe. They then built a 1939 Ford coupe to drag race at the Aurora airport and held the world record in 1956 Class E, Ecoupe/Sedan.
He was featured twice in the Hot Rod Magazine in 1956. He stopped racing when he moved to Silver Bay. When Gerlinger Carrier closed down for Christmas, Bob decided to bring his son, Bob Jr., to Minnesota to see his grandparents. While in Minnesota, he went with his brother Ed to the unemployment office. While Ed was signing up, the man asked if he could help him.
Bob told him he was a millwright machinist and the man told him he had the job for him. He was sent to Silver Bay and was interviewed by Jim Andrews. He was hired and went to work in January of 1957 for Reserve Mining Company for 30 plus years. When Reserve mining closed, he went to work for the Wisconsin Carpenters. When he turned 62 he wanted to retire, but he was told he had to stay until the job he was working on was done. So, he worked until May 1989.
On his last day, Ruby received a call from cousin Lyle inviting them to Alaska. He got home from work and mom announced we are going on vacation. He said we need to buy a camper. They spent 58 days fishing, gold mining and sightseeing in Alaska.
Bob had many hobbies including fishing, collecting vintage fishing lures, gold mining, rock hunting, tree planting, playing .25 cribbage games with his brother and friends, wild ricing (and he ran a wild rice business), playing fastpitch softball, slowpitch softball, and bowling.
One of his favorite places was hunting at the deer shack. Along with his friends and family; Bob Eckstrom Sr, Ed Eckstrom, Ronnie Meyers, Bill Der-osier, Bob Kind, Tom Malmo, Van and Don Warbs, they built the shack on little Manito Rd in 1960-1961. Everyone enjoyed playing cards and telling stories.
He was a proud owner of a ‘64 Mercury car and loved enter-ing it into vintage car shows. He served on the recreation boards of both Lake County and Silver Bay. He was instrumental in get-ting the Marina in Silver Bay up and going and the arenas in Silver Bay and Two Harbors.
He built the Pidpiper ice cream truck out of a bread truck, adding a power plant and soft serve ice cream. He sold 5 cent cones, malts and sundaes. He also coached Peewee and Bantam Hockey. Robert was a member of Sychar Lutheran Church for 68 years, serving on the board of worship and worked with Luther League. Bob enjoyed spending the winters for 34 years in Black Canyon City, AZ.
He belonged to the Road Runners Rock and Gold Mining Club and the Braggin Rock Club. He attended Grace Lutheran Church. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Carol Ann.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years Ruby; brother Edward; son Bob; daughter Lisa (Peter); grand-children Matt (Jessica), Melinda, Ashley (Chris), and Kristin (Christopher); four great-grandchildren. Services will be held on July 22nd at 11 AM, with visitation starting at 10 AM, at Sychar Lutheran Church in Silver Bay. Luncheon to follow. A burial service will be held on July 24th at 1PM at MN State Veter-ans Cemetery at Camp Ripley, Little FaIls.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to American Cancer Society or Sychar Mission Circle.
The battle won, victory is ahead! Whoopie!