Robert R. Melstrom, 87Robert R. Melstrom, age 87, passed away in his sleep on March 10, 2012, just 3 days away from his 88th birthday.
Robert R. Melstrom, age 87, passed away in his sleep on March 10, 2012, just 3 days away from his 88th birthday.
He was born at home on March 13, 1924, to Nels and Bertha (Budjenska) Melstrom in rural Trimbelle Township, Wis. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Donald and Edward; sisters, Dorothy Stockwell, Florence Olson, Myrtle Anderson, and Marian Eide; and his friend, Delia Day. He is survived by many nieces and nephews, other relatives and numerous friends.
Bob attended a one-room rural school through the 8th grade and then went on to attend Prescott High School. He was an excellent student and always credited his teachers for their extra efforts to keep him challenged and give him great opportunities to learn.
His family was given a pump organ when Bob was very young. This was the start of his lifelong love of music. He practiced playing the piano at the family church until one of the church ladies heard him play and offered to pay for lessons for him. As his skills grew, his training became more formal.
After graduating from high school in 1942, Bob worked at Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis as an attendant. He enlisted in the Navy in 1943. At first, he was assigned to play piano and organ for religious services and "Meet Your Navy" broadcasts. Feeling underused, Bob arranged to get an assignment at Iowa State College where he was in charge of a unit of the hospital that had been taken over by the Navy. Bob was then granted entry to a pre-med course at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. This accelerated program allowed him to earn a degree in organic chemistry in only 2 years. Denison also had an excellent music department, so he could continue with music lessons while in the Navy.
After the war, Bob was discharged from the Navy and soon moved to California. He worked for Cutter Laboratories, attended UC Berkley, and earned degrees in criminology, toxicology and police laboratory science.
Bob moved to Iowa and, for 10 years, worked as a professional services rep for two pharmaceutical companies. Then he worked for more than 23 years at Bachman's in Minneapolis as a horticultural information specialist. He was also their bonsai expert.
Bob continued to play piano and organ for church services, in piano bars, at supper clubs - anywhere a piano was available. He also played for weddings and funerals for family and friends. He was the accompanist for the Norwegian Glee Club of Minneapolis for over 23 years and was honored with a wonderful retirement banquet by that group in 1995.
A very sociable and active man, in retirement Bob had time to spend with his friend, Delia, and other friends and family.
Special thanks to the staff at Benedictine Health Center of Minneapolis for their skillful, compassionate care and kindness.
Graveside service 11 a.m. Thursday, March 29, Assembly Area 4 at Fort Snelling National Cemetery, 7601 34th Ave S., Minneapolis.
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