Robert “Bob” Riestenberg


Bob Riestenberg, Perham, Minnesota, passed peacefully March 22, 2023 at Perham Living. Musician, farmer, innovator, he was born January 30, 1923 to John and Rose (Mohr) Riestenberg at the St. James Hospital. He attended a one room school house up the hill from the farm through 8th grade, and graduated from the new (at the time) Perham High School in 1940. He attended one year at Moorhead State Teachers College and also took U of M extension agriculture classes in the late 1940’s on the GI Bill. He was a member of the US Army Band, and toured Japan at the end of World War II. Bob married Rita ‘Babe’ Strauch August 20, 1946. Bob played clarinet, sax and trumpet for several local dance bands. His musical career started at a church picnic when he was 15, and ended as a soloist when he was 97. Bob sang for many wedding ceremonies, and played for hundreds of wedding dances. Relatives and friends stood around any number of pianos and sang as Bob played from night into the morning. His love of jazz influenced his farming, ever improvising to fix a door, a swather, or what he planted. As a farmer, he started as a boy working fields with horses, and ended up with central pivot Irrigation and an international agribusiness. He was a welder, mechanic, dairyman, bean grower, innovator and inventor. Bob was a founding member of the Central Minnesota Irrigators Association and the Midwest Bean Growers Association, and a member of the National Farmer’s Organization. Bob co-founded Good Earth, Lupine Triticale Enterprises and International Agriculture and Genetics (In-Ag), an international seed distribution business. Bob helped to bring irrigation to the sand prairie of the Perham area. He worked with the U of MN agriculture extension research station in Staples and with University of Minnesota agronomist Dr. Fred Elliot to test and introduce new crops to the area, including dry edible beans, sweet lupine and triticale. In his later years, he was the handyman for the Bean Mill. When he retired, more or less at 82, he took up writing, joining the Golden Pens writing group. With the wonder of spell check, he published Round Barns and Other Tales, a collection of stories about his family and people he knew in the Perham area. He and Babe enjoyed travel, especially with friends. He set foot in countries in North and Central America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. With Babe, he raised Daniel, RedHeart, Faye (Dale Jorgensen), Joyce (Ace Smith), Nancy (Bob Cowgill), Philip (Sandy Machinsky) and Patrick (Nancy Hakala). He is preceded in death by his wife of 68 years Babe; parents, John and Rose; siblings Bernard, Dolores, Jack and wife Odelia, Mary and husband Pat Tacito, and Arthur. He was blessed with fourteen grandchildren: Kristi, Steven, Sarah, Kristian, Susan, James, Mary, Thomas, Peter, Jono, Katherine, Michael, Jacki, Sophie, and Tyler; and eighteen great-grandchildren: Kelan, Ryland, Broden, Nytan, Jastyn, Theryn, Melissa, Lucy, Audra, Edith, Astrid, Arianna, Galen, Kali, Cora, Joey, Gigi and Robin.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. with Rosary and Parish Prayers beginning at 6:30 p.m. at St. Henry’s Catholic Church, Perham, MN. Mass will be held on Monday, April 24, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Henry’s Catholic Church. Visitation will resume one hour prior to the Mass at the church. Bob will be laid to rest at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery, Perham, MN.  In lieu of flowers, consider a donation in Bob’s name to the Perham High School Band, 800 Coney Street West, Perham, MN 56573.

Please visit to leave memorials and condolences on Bob’s Tribute Wall.

Arrangements provided by Karvonen Funeral & Cremation Service of New York Mills, Minnesota.

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