Robert “Bob” Reimers,

June 10, 1936 - November 15, 2020


Service: Due to Covid-19, a memorial service will be held in the Spring/Summer of 2021 for Bob and Syl Reimers

     Robert Reimers passed away Sunday, November 15th at Good Samaritan Society Canton SD.

               Bob Reimers was a beloved husband, brother, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. People often referred to him as Big Bob, referring to his physical size. But he was big in many other ways. He was big in heart, generosity, intelligence, honesty, kindness, wit and wisdom.

         Bob knew something about almost everything. He was a master conversationalist and storyteller. Time spent with Bob was never wasted on small talk or complaints. A favorite time with Bob was morning conversations over coffee at the kitchen table. Tableside chats will be missed but never forgotten.

             Bob’s education started in a one room schoolhouse outside of Inwood Iowa where he attended through eighth grade. He then went to school “in town” until accelerated advancement allowed him to graduate at age 16. Because of Bob’s big-ness in intellect and athleticism, he received a full ride scholarship to play basketball at the University of Iowa under Bucky O’Connor, starting out with 21 credit hours focused on a major in Engineering. He was always proud to say that his freshman team went on to play Bill Russell with the University of San Francisco for the national championship.  The U of I experience, complete with a new car, an open checkbook, Delta Upsilon membership, and an invite to also play on the football team was a bit much for the small-town boy. Bob decided to head to greener pastures closer to home and he transferred to Morningside College where he was recognized as a “Big Man on Campus” and graduated with a major in English.

         Bob married Sylvia Pappas on June 6, 1955. As it was 4 days before his 21st birthday, his father had to sign permission for him to get married. Bob and Sylvia lived in Santa Moncia for 4 years, where Bob sold Wear Ever kitchen utensils with his friend Darold Puff. One successful sales tactic they discovered was making pancakes for the potential female customer. In 1960 Bob and Syl returned home and settled in with Bob’s parents, Leone and Al Reimers, while they looked for a place to live. They were lucky to eventually buy a home at 602 East Lynn where they lived for 60 years.  Bob often joked that the selection of Canton was no random choice. After leaving work at the VA one day, Bob stopped and bought a quart of Grain Belt and started driving. When the beer was gone, he was in Canton. That seemed as good a place as any to live he said. He then added, with a smirk, if I would have bought a 12 ouncer we would be living in Harrisburg.

         Bob and Syl lived in their home in Canton for almost 60 years. They traveled to many places but enjoyed nowhere as well as Canton. The house and garden were an anchor for them both. It’s hard to separate thoughts of Bob & Syl from memories of the house, the yard and the garden. They enjoyed life in Canton with friends and family. Summers were spent gardening and coaching Heidi’s softball team, “Bob and Jack’s Sluggers” (Bob and Jack Fox sponsored a team in the first girls’ softball league in Canton). They also enjoyed time with many friends at Dickerson’s resort at Lake Florida, Minnesota. And their fourth of July celebrations became notorious, a tradition carried on by their children.

        While Syl’s family tree was largely unknown, Bob’s was clear. Robert James Reimers was born June 10, 1935 to Elmer “Al” and Leone (Schemmel) Reimers in Minneapolis, MN. He was 4th generation German American. His great grandfather Jacob came to the states when he was a young man and settled in Alvord, IA. His grandpa Herman settled in Inwood. Bob’s father Elmer, known as Al, farmed outside of Inwood Iowa. Bob and brother Dave grew up there. Bob’s professional career was spent at the Sioux Falls VA Hospital where he worked for 37 years. How this came to be was also a story. Bob had signed a contract to start teaching high school at Rock Valley. Before starting the job, he was taking care of some business at the local post office. As he describes it, when he left the post office, he turned right instead of left to go to his car. On the right was an employment office. He stopped in where he struck up conversation. The staff person mentioned that he had just heard about a newly created position at the VA hospital, which was so new the description was written on a napkin from a dinner party he’d attended the night before. Bob decided to follow up, and the rest is history.

        Even though Bob spent 37 years in various administrative jobs at the Veteran’s Administration in Sioux Falls, Bob’s life was spent focused on volunteerism. Bob went from being the director of voluntary services at the VA to being a volunteer himself. He preferred the latter. The happiest workdays of his life were spent as a volunteer at the Outdoor Campus, teaching kids how to fish, snowshoe, identify wildlife and other outdoor activities. Bob spent a lot of time untangling fishing line. He once helped chaperone a group of disabled adults to Hawaii, and spent time chaperoning a group of Boy Scouts to the Boundary Waters. He often told a story of one of the boys getting an injury that required stitches. Bob set out with the boy to get help. Remarkably, on the way to find emergency transportation out, they met the only other people they had seen while in the wilderness. One of them happened to be a physician who was able to provide the care the boy needed, right there on the spot. Emergency evacuation averted.

         Teaching responsibility was important to Bob. Growing up, punctuality was enforced. The standing rule was one day grounded for each minute late, and it didn’t matter if the clock at home was running fast. On family trips, arriving late at the airport was never a risk. A bigger risk was arriving at the airport before it opened. And manners were also strictly enforced. When Tom got a minus on his report card for “is courteous” in 6th grade, Bob learned that Tom had not held the door for the girls following him out to recess. Tom’s lesson came in the form of Bob mandating that he hold the door open for all his classmates at recess for the rest of the year.

        Bob enjoyed spending time with friends whether it was sitting out on the deck, playing bridge, or visiting Cousin Amanda with his best friend Jake. The magnet of home and living in Canton was strong for Bob. He was offered many job offers in his career, all of them requiring a move. Once he had planted roots in Canton, he had no interest in uprooting his family. He loved his home, his town, his neighbors and friends. That was enough for Bob.

          But mostly, he was the rock of the family. He was steadfast in his love for family and friends always offering his time, love, kindness, resources and a guiding hand to anyone who wanted or needed it. He was flawlessly honest and trustworthy. You could count on Bob as reliably as you could count on the sun rising in the morning. He lived a life guided by his faith and values and did so with a level of integrity that is simply admirable. Bob touched many lives throughout his journey and we are all better because of it. He lived a life that offered all of us a model of how to live, love and give. And although he set the bar exceedingly high, it offers all of us something to reach for. As life moves forward and we find ourselves pondering some issue or concern, we will simply need to ask ourselves one question; “what would Bob do”.

       Bob is survived by his children Tom (Kristi) Reimers and Heidi (Charles) Conley; grandchildren: Melissa Hasty, Courtney Herndon, Sarah Reimers and Laura (Jordan) Warnock; great-granddaughter Lilly Hasty; Brother: David (Ronda) Reimers and Niece Kim (Rich) Sola.  Preceding him in death: Wife, Syl Reimers.

        Memorials can be sent to the Outdoor Campus, Sioux Falls, SD. Due to Covid-19, a memorial service will be held in the Spring/Summer of 2021 for Bob and Syl Reimers. Details to follow.

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12 condolences have been left

  1. Having grown up in Inwood, I got to know Bob while in school. I was a student manager for his High school basketball team for a year. I meant him when he came to the Post Office in Sioux Falls to collect undeliverable magazines which Bob would give to people in the VA. A great guy.

  2. Tom, Heidi and family-
    Thinking of you at this time and sending my sympathies. I can’t imagine losing your parents in such a short period of time. While it’s been so long since I have seen them, I am flooded with childhood memories. They will be greatly missed!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. Tom and Heidi,
    Wanted to let you know that you and your families have been in our thoughts and prayers. Can’t imagine how hard this has been losing both your parents so close together. I will never forget all the memories we had spending time at your house with your parents when we were growing up. A memorial will be sent in memory of your parents to the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls.

  4. Bob’s love of family extended into the Schemmel aunts, uncles and cousins. Bob and his cousin, Ron Schemmel, always enjoyed spending time together–the farm kid and the small town kid. I will never forget and am always grateful for the visits Bob made when Ron was in Good Samaritan Marion Road Campus. His unfailing good cheer brightened Ron’s day. Bob’s was a life well-lived. My sympathy to you, his family.

    Ruth Scott Schemmel

  5. My condolences to Bob’s Family
    For I don’t remember how many years Bob and I carpooled together going to and from our jobs at the VA Hospital. We had many good conversations (good memories) during our drives. Bob was always there to offer his help. On one occasion he helped build my backyard deck and Jim Sondgeroth and I helped him build his deck. In later years the three of us often talked about that time. I will miss him.

  6. I knew Bob for all of my career at the VA (37 years as well) – and was blessed to know him. His thoughtfulness, team spirit and good nature was a blessing to all who knew him. He was always helping someone and made such a difference to the work environment. My sympathy to the family. You can be thankful for the great memories that we store in our hearts. Blessings to you.

  7. I remember Bob from days at The Outdoor Campus. He was a wonderful grandfather figure. There was no tangled fishing pole he couldn’t undo. I learned how to string a line on a fishing pole from him.I look forward to passing that skill onto my kids. I am thankful I was able to work and learn from
    him. Thank you for your years of service Bob!

  8. I am so saddened to hear of Bob’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with him at The Outdoor Campus. He brightened every single day he volunteered. I remember his laugh, his easy going nature, and willingness to always help. Blessings to his family. May God hold you close as you grieve the loss of such a wonderful man. He will most certainly be missed.

  9. I was very sad to hear about Bob and Syl. Bob and my Dad used to car pool to the VA and developed a great friendship. Dad was about half the size of Bob so he drove a smaller car. When it was Dads turn to drive it was comical seeing them go down the road as the car would tilt to the right. Bob hated that car. I also worked at the VA in Sioux Falls and would always stop in to see Bob on my way by his office to share a story or two. Big Bob big of heart we will miss you.

  10. Please know how much Bob meant to us all at The Outdoor Campus. He was a mentor, a reliable source of common sense and wisdom and always there for us. I remember him at the first volunteer training we had, his reassuring smile giving us confidence as we embarked on a new outdoor education model. I can’t think of Bob without also thinking of his dear friend Herb. Those two would make us laugh and worked so hard on impossible tasks. They would chat and laugh over coffee (always coffee!) and tangles of fishing line. I loved stopping by,, interrupting their talk to catch a joke or a new tidbit of knowledge from Bob. I’d never stay long – they had a lot more to say to each other. I miss Bob terribly already – you do not mourn alone. Please stay in touch if you can.

  11. So hard to believe that Bob is gone! He hired me at the VA — without him I wouldn’t have had my 37 year career there. I could always rely on Bob for advice or a story— and he was full of stories! He always had a funny story that would make a bad situation better. Even though he had left recreation years prior, veterans would stop in the office and ask about him— almost always asking ‘where’s that big guy’? Often they would assume he was my dad, so that became our private joke. I’d call him dad and he’d accuse me of forgetting him for Christmas or his birthday.
    Bob was one of the good guys. He always put veterans first; knew how to charm some of the most difficult personalities, and built an awesome volunteer program. I will forever miss him!