With great sadness, the family of Robert G. Ellwanger announce his passing on June 28, 2018 after a six and half year battle with prostate and bone cancer. Bob was born on February 21, 1950 to William and Isabelle Stickler Ellwanger in Pierre, South Dakota.
Sports, family/friends and God were significant joys in Bob’s life. Bob was educated kindergarten – 12th grade in the Pierre School System and will always be a staunch and proud Pierre Governor. While in school Bob excelled in sports; being named the first SD Prep All-American Football Player in ‘68. He was a member of the 1964 VFW Teener Champion Team; the first Pierre team to go to the National Tourney in Hershey, PA. He played on the 1967 and 1968 State Legion Baseball Champion team defeating R.C. Post 22 in the championship game. Bob was inducted into the Pierre Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
During the fall of 1968, Bob began his collegiate career with a full-ride athletic scholarship to South Dakota State University (Go Jackrabbits). He played SDSU football ‘69 - ‘71 in the positions of defensive back/punt return specialist. He also played Jackrabbit baseball ‘70 – ‘72 and earned several awards: All North Central Conference 1971 - 1972, All 5th District 1971, North Central Conference Batting Champion 1972. Bob graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in December of 1972. He taught/coached at Newell, McIntosh, Douglas and R.C. Stevens.
After college graduation, summers were spent living life to its fullest playing amateur baseball for Ralph Macy. Reliving those great Macy team memories with former teammates always brought joy back into Robert’s eyes. Bob took a hiatus from baseball in order to coach his daughters in fast pitch softball but returned to baseball by playing on the Rapid City Chevy team into his late fifties.
While at SDSU, Robert met the love of his life, Ellen Fornia. They were married July 6, 1973, almost 45 years ago. Their union produced three beautiful daughters: Andrea, Erin and Cara. Bob was over the moon in love with his three little girls.
During the summer of 1984, the Ellwanger family pulled up their roots and traveled to Lombard, IL. Bob enrolled in the National College of Chiropractic. Three and ½ years later Robert graduated with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Luckily, Bob was able to purchase an established chiropractic practice in Rapid City. Bob treated patients at Ellwanger Chiropractic Clinic until his declining health forced his early retirement and closure of the clinic.
As his daughters matured, once again sports became a paramount avenue in his life. Bob began his role as volunteer coach/manager for his daughters’ fast pitch softball and basketball teams. He felt that it was important to give back to his community by sharing his knowledge and skills. Bob’s volunteerism carried into the next generation when he spent many hours coaching his oldest Grandson Ethan in Rushmore Little League and Black Hills Youth Football. GrandBob as Ethan has come to name him, has played an essential role in his life.
Faith in God and daily devotions of prayer helped Bob throughout the battle with this unrelenting disease. One of his favorite passages was --- The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth ~ Psalm 145:18, NKJV
Bob lived an amazing life full of his passions. Grateful for having shared Bob’s life and passions with him are his wife Ellen; daughter Andrea, husband/son-in-law Shane Byrd and grandchildren Ethan, Ayden, Alexis and Griffin Byrd; daughter Erin, husband/son-in-law Charlie Tivis and granddaughters Nova and Nessa Tivis; daughter Cara, husband/son-in-law Anthony Deiss and grandchildren Nickolas and Olivia Deiss, all from Rapid City; sister Gloria Merriam and husband Rick, brother Bill Ellwanger and wife Stacy, all from Pierre, brother Gary Ellwanger and wife Virginia, Sun City West, AZ.; Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Lyle Dennis of Rapid City. Bob is survived by many loving aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, special friends and former teammates. He is preceded in death by his parents William and Isabelle Ellwanger.
A special Thank You goes out to his dear friends, Ron Kohn, Bill Schulz, Rick Hatfield, Louis Cowherd, Gene Gillen, and Chuck Marsh who provided constant care, companionship, and unconditional love for our beloved Husband, Dad, and GrandBob.
In honor of Bob, please wear your favorite sports jersey/cap to the visitation/funeral. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Ellen Ellwanger and a memorial will be established at a later date.
Visitation will be Sunday, July 8, 2018 at Kirk Funeral Home from 5:00-7:00 pm. Celebration of Life service will be Monday, July 9, 2018 at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church at 10:00 am. Visitation will begin one hour before service.