Robert B. Theis, son of Joseph and Lucy Theis of Foley and then Mora, MN, was born on April 2, 1933. With a race to run and a mission to accomplish, he did it well until the night of December 28, 2013, at the age of 80, when he just couldn’t run anymore. Though his movements were slower in his later years, Bob’s determination for living a good life remained strong and true.
Bob was passionate about so many, many things. He treated life as a gift, one to be shared and one to be embraced. When he took hold of a task, he did so with unimaginable skill and determination, juggling schedules with humor and quickness. So much to do, but only so much time to do it. His mantra was, “Give 100 percent and that might not even be enough.”
After graduating from Mora High School in 1951, he entered college at North Dakota State University on a football scholarship. His college football career ended abruptly when he sustained an injury. This led him to enlist in the Air Force. As a Staff Sergeant in Panama during the Korean Conflict, he was a radio operator and taught swimming to the children of the officers on base in his free time.
Coming home on the G.I. bill, he enrolled in St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, from which he graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree. It was there that he met the love of his life, Della Pauly Theis, to whom he was married for 53 years.
Bob’s first teaching assignment was in Holdingford, MN, followed by years in Thorton Township High School in Chicago, IL; Mora, MN; Stuttgart, Germany; and finally with the Cambridge-Isanti School District, where he taught history and social studies from 1967 to his retirement in 1993. He loved teaching with a passion. He was named Teacher of the Year in 1986 by Cambridge-Isanti School District 911 and Minnesota Excellence Teacher of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Education.
While at Cambridge High School, Bob was the Jr. Class Advisor; coached football, basketball, and golf; refereed for football, basketball, and softball; was statistician for the varsity football team; the Foreign Exchange Advisor; and started a sister-school exchange program with Taikyu High School in Yuasa, Japan from 1984-1993, which is still going strong today. He also started the Cambridge – Yuasa, Japan sister city program from 1986-present. He supervised many student and adult trips to Japan, and a group of students to Germany in 1970 and 1972. He taught water instruction for over 35 years.
Bob was known for his humor, generosity, perseverance, always being on the move and for never looking back – only forward. Another favorite phrase was “Do what you have to do!” His love of his community showed through his selfless service to the American Legion Post 290, where he was Commander from 1994-95, Americanism Chairman (1968-present), Color Guard (1993-present), Chaplain (1996-present), and on the Legion Executive Board. He was Treasurer and past President of the Knights of Columbus; and for his many roles as lector, communion distributor, shut-in communion distributor, religious instructor for 12 years, member of church council where he served as President for three years, he was awarded the Diocese of St. Cloud’s Medal of Merit and Christ the King Award in 1983.
His devotion to the community continued with the service to the Red Cross; as Isanti County Water Safety Director for 15 years; Chairman for the Isanti County Public Health; Isanti County Historical Society; as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels; and the Li’l Farm Children’s Home. He was a sports writer for local county newspapers (1968-2013). Because of this, he was inducted in the Jacket Hoop Boosters “Hall of Fame” in 2002 and was honored with the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association “Publicity Award” for promoting wrestling in 2006.
Bob is survived by his wife Della of Cambridge, MN; two children, Ann (Hiro) Watanabe of Eden Prairie, MN; and Peter Theis of Cambridge, MN; five grandchildren – Ellie, Jonah, Zoe, Grace, and Madeline; twin brother Dick (Fran) Theis of Salem, OR, sister-in-law Ardis Theis of AZ, and his beloved dog Max
Mass of Christian Burial 11:00 am Friday, January 3, 2014 at Christ The King Catholic Church (230 Fern St. N., Cambridge). Visitation 4:00 – 7:00 pm, with a memorial prayer service at 6:30 on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at Carlson-Lillemoen Funeral Home (311 S. Ashland St., Cambridge) 763-689-2244, and also one hour prior to services at the church on Friday. Online condolences at www.carlsonlillemoen.com Memorials preferred in lieu of flowers to the Li’l Farm Children’s Home or the Dan Rudd-Bob Theis Scholarship through Fund via American Legion Post 290. On a winter’s night, he went…to follow the light.