Robert ‘Bob’ Abraham, 84

Robert Lee Abraham was born on Sept. 8, 1937 to Roy and Sarah (Sommervold) Abraham on the family farm near Spink, S.D. He was baptized and confirmed at Brule Creek Lutheran Church. Bob’s elementary school years were spent at Pleasant Hill country school, and he graduated from Alcester High School in 1955. He completed one year at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Upon completion of his service, he returned to Augustana, where he met his future wife, Marilyn Ching. The couple graduated from Augie in 1962, and were married five days later on June 9 in the First Presbyterian Church of Castlewood, S.D. 

Bob was a man who set goals and then carried them out. On one of his first dates with Marilyn, he let her know what his future plans entailed: travelling to see the world, experiencing life away from home, and finally returning to South Dakota to start a family and to farm full time. Just as Bob had envisioned, he and Marilyn spent the first four years of their married lives living and working in communities far removed from their South Dakota home. Bob taught math and Marilyn worked as a nurse in both Grand Junction, Colo., and later in Kingston, N.Y.

After spending a summer traveling throughout Europe, Bob and Marilyn moved back to South Dakota. Bob farmed and taught high school math in Alcester, all while earning his master’s degree in guidance and counseling from USD in 1969. Soon the couple purchased a farm, where they lived and worked for the next 52 years.

Bob and Marilyn became parents of a daughter, Jillean, born on Bob’s birthday in 1966, and two years later, a son, Ross, whose birthday fell one week later. Since full-time farming was his ultimate goal, Bob gradually acquired more land until he could leave his teaching position. Throughout his farming career, Bob grew primarily corn and soybeans while raising and selling Hereford cross cattle. Since he was environmentally conscious, Bob was one of the first in the area to incorporate ridge-till and no-till farming methods. In addition to farming, Bob worked for the State of SD as an Agricultural Finance Counselor for 30 years, beginning shortly after the farm crisis of the early 1980s. Bob’s quiet, calming presence and proven business acumen were surely a comfort to the scores of farm families he advocated for during bankruptcy mediations. Bob’s even temper, quiet leadership, and common-sense wisdom made him effective church council president, a role that he fulfilled twice for the Nathanael Lutheran Church congregation in Alcester. Bob also served the Congregational Life and Mutual Ministry committees. He led by example; he was a loving husband and father, a successful farmer and businessman, and an active member of his church.

Bob loved the outdoors. His insistence on taking his young family on camping trips throughout the country and especially to national parks has inspired his children’s and his grandchildren’s love of camping and the outdoors. One of Bob’s most important family legacies was taking his adult children, their spouses, and his four grandchildren to Outlaw Ranch Family Bible Camp near Custer, S.D., every summer for nearly 17 years! There he shared his faith with his family in the outdoors he loved. Bob also enjoyed playing golf, attending Augustana sporting events, and was an avid Green Bay Packers fan. He was a connoisseur of popcorn and ice cream, an “ace” ping-pong player, and a sneaky stealer of points in Cribbage (as his grandchildren can attest). Bob’s legacy of service to his church and family make his memory an inspiration to all who were fortunate to know him. 

Robert Abraham was 84 years and 20 days old when he passed away surrounded by his family on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, at Ava’s House Hospice Facility in Sioux Falls.

Grateful for having shared his life is Bob’s wife of 59 years, Marilyn (Ching) Abraham; daughter, Jillean Lee (Brian) Beck, Sioux Falls, and son, Ross Peder (Julie) Abraham, Brookings; four grandchildren, Tyler (Amanda) Beck of Denver, Colo., Jordan Beck of Lincoln, Neb., Lucas Abraham of Omaha, Neb., and Eleanor Abraham of Annapolis, Md.

Bob’s parents, Roy and Sarah, and siblings, Shirley and Donald, preceded him in death.

Visitation will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 at Nathanael Lutheran Church in Alcester. Burial will be held at the Nora Cemetery at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 with funeral services following at 2 p.m. at Nathanael Lutheran Church. 

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