Rev. Robert Emil Utecht
The Rev. Robert Emil Utecht, 84, Lead, SD, died on Nov. 23, 2012.
Funeral services were Tuesday, Nov. 27 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Dimock, IA. Burial was in Immanuel Lutheran Church cemetery.
Robert E. Utecht was born Aug. 8, 1928 in Merrill, WI to Emil and Alma (Lutzke) Utecht. At age 17, he moved to Babbitt and Forrest Center, MN to cut timber for the Tomahawk Timber Company.
Bob graduated from Ely (MN) 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, MN. 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, IL 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, SD. While in Gettysburg, the Lord called his wife, Grace, to Himself in 1959.
In 1965, he 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, 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 Rev. Utecht’s long ministry, he served as a circuit counselor, first and second vice-president of the South 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; children Richard (Pat) Soyk, Dickenson, ND; Dave (Sandi) Soyk, Colorado Springs, CO; Mark (Lynn) Utecht, Virginia Beach, VA; Dorcas Gienger, Mt. Carmel, IL; Ken (Bev) Soyk Parkston, SD; Rob (Karen) Utecht, Mt. Carmel, IL; Kathy (Wallace) Schulz, Augusta, MO; Luke Utecht, Rapid City, SD; Mary (George) Oxar, North Miami, FL; Linda Utecht Houston, TX; Peter (Rachel) Utecht, Redfield, SD; Andrew (Lori) Utecht, Rosebud, SD; Sarah (Patrick) Gaffney, Beecher IL; Joanna Utecht, Valentine, NE, along with 29 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister Marge (Tom) Trembath of Ely, MN.
Rev. Robert Utecht was preceded in death by his wife Grace, 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.