Bob grew up in a Baptist missionary family, and spent his younger years in the Philippines, including two years in Japanese interment camps during WWII.
My dad had me learn John 14:1-3 when we were standing in line for roll call in an interment camp.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
Little did I realize the significance of these verses then as I do now.
After the war, the family returned to the States and the boys began their schooling. Bob attended schools in Florida and Wheaton, Illinois, Oakland High School and San Francisco State in California, and Bethel College in St. Paul. He became an artist for Sacred Design and the Evangelical Free Church Press. He taught art at Penn State for five years, and then moved back to the Twin Cities, taught at Augsburg College for 25 years, and is now retired.
Bob became a Lutheran, and a member of Zion, after coming to Buffalo and meeting Pastor Ed Blair in the 1970s. Since that time, Bob has used his artistic talents at Zion in working with the Music and Worship Committee, Memorial and Placement Committee, Building Committee, and Habitat for Humanity.
When Zion’s current building was constructed in 1989, Bob contributed to the architecture by designing three large wooden panels on the west wall of the Sanctuary. The circles in the panels represent God in three periods of time.
God Before Time (panel 1)
In the beginning God … Genesis 1:1a
Some scientists now believe there was ‘something’ before the Big Bang, and the first panel is Bob’s representation of God’s presence as that ‘something.’
God of The Old Testament (panel 2)
… created the heavens and the earth Genesis 1:1b
The second panel depicts God illuminated through the Old Testament.
It is amazing how closely the Bible account of creation (written down around 700-500 BC) mirrors the sequence of geology and evolution that today’s scientists are theorizing. The Old Testament continues to show God’s presence in the world and how He prepares the Jewish people for the coming of Christ into the world.
God the Trinity of the New Testament (panel 3)
The third panel represents the Trinity of God the Father (circles), the Son (cross), and the Holy Spirit (flame).
The New Testament tells us of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It then describes the Holy Spirit indwelling Christians with the spread of Christianity into all the world
The Advent star, suspended over the altar in 2008, completes the symbolism.
The Advent star that led the wise men to the birth of Christ now leads us to look forward to the advent of Christ’s return.
Bob originally designed the star in 1958 for the Bethel Male Chorus concert. In 2010 the Social Ministry Committee sold replicas of the star to benefit Love INC Big Woods.
Bob’s wife, Cleo, grew up in Howard Lake. They have three children and three grandchildren. Bob enjoys playing golf and designing houses.
Recently, he has been crafting decorative orbs from reclaimed materials.
Read more about Bob’s time in the Philippines in the June 2015 issue of the Legionnaire.