Rev. Robert Utecht, LeadThe Rev. Robert Emil Utecht, 84, Lead, died Friday, Nov. 23, 2012.
The Rev. Robert Emil Utecht, 84, Lead, died Friday, Nov. 23, 2012.
He was born Aug. 8, 1928.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dimock. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Spearfish. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today with a 7 p.m. prayer service at the church in Dimock.
The Rev. R. E. Utecht was born in Merrill, Wis., to Emil and Alma (Lutzke) Utecht. At age 17, he moved to Babbitt and Forrest Center, Minn., to cut timber for the Tomahawk Timber Company.
Bob graduated from Ely, Minn., High School in 1946. After high school, he attended Ely Junior College to become a veterinary doctor.
After a short time, however, the Lord led him to study for the ministry at Concordia College, St. Paul. There he met his first wife Grace (Schumacher) and they married in 1951. The Lord blessed this union with five children.
After graduating from Concordia-St. Paul, he attended Concordia Seminary in Springfield, Ill., and was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS), in 1953.
His first call was to South Dakota to serve St. John Lutheran Church in Emery and St. Martin Lutheran Church in Alexandria. In 1958, he was called to Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Gettysburg. While in Gettysburg, the Lord called his wife, Grace, to himself in 1959.
In 1965, the Rev. Utecht married Donna (Zakar) Soyk. Donna brought four children to the union. The Lord blessed Robert and Donna with five more children — one by adoption.
In 1974, after serving Emmanuel Lutheran Church for 16 years, the Rev. Utecht was called to serve Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dimock and Zion, Stickney. During this time he also served many vacancies.
In 1993, he was called to serve the Native Americans as missionary at large for the South Dakota District LCMS. He started Rosebud Indian Lutheran Church and later started Porcupine Lutheran Mission in Pine Ridge. He concluded his ministry in the spring of 2012 after 59 years of ordained ministry.
During the Rev. Utecht’s long ministry, he served as a circuit counselor, first and second vice-president of the South Dakota District LCMS, and also as a synodical reconciler.
One of the hallmarks of his ministry was starting a puppet and magic ministry, using visual arts to proclaim the Gospel. South Dakota State Fair attendees have enjoyed “Pastor Bob” and his Puppet Place for 40 years.
Bob enjoyed fishing throughout his life and woodworking especially later in life.
He loved and prayed for his family every day.
He is survived by, his wife Donna (Lead); children: Richard (Pat) Soyk, Dickinson, N.D.; Dave (Sandi) Soyk, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Mark (Lynn) Utecht, Virginia Beach, Va.; Dorcas Gienger, Mt. Carmel, Ill.; Ken (Bev) Soyk, Parkston; Rob (Karen) Utecht, Mount Carmel, Ill.; Kathy (Wallace) Schulz, Augusta, Mo.; Luke Utecht, Rapid City; Mary (George) Oxar, North Miami, Fla.; Linda Utecht Houston, Texas; Peter (Rachel) Utecht, Redfield; Andrew (Lori) Utecht, Rosebud; Sarah (Patrick) Gaffney, Beecher Ill.; Joanna Utecht, Valentine, Neb.; along with 29 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Marge (Tom) Trembath of Ely, Minn.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Grace, his father Emil, mother Alma and brother Richard.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be made to the Rev. Robert Utecht Family Scholarship Fund, Native American Missions or LWML.