By Bob Dunn
Robert Odegard, one of Princeton’s most prominent sons, will be buried at Oak Knoll Cemetery here in Princeton at 2 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, following 10 a.m. services at the Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata.
Bob was born in Princeton in 1921 and lived here until 1966, except for service in the Navy during World War II. He graduated from Princeton High School in 1938 and from the University of Minnesota in 1942 with a degree in agricultural economics. He was involved in the operation of several farms north of Princeton with his father, including a very substantial potato business until 1960.
During these years Bob had been responsible for managing the local Ford dealership and the school bus system for the local school district, both of these enterprises were family-owned and had been started by Bob’s father, Odin (O.J.) Odegard.
Odin was a leading businessman and community citizen and played a prominent role in this area. He was the son of Norwegian homesteaders who settled in the Santiago area. Bob followed his father’s example as a leader in civic and business affairs in Princeton.
In 1960 he was a candidate for the state House of Representatives for Mille Lacs, Sherburne and Kanabec counties. He found this area of political service interesting and challenging. When the opportunity to run for Congress presented itself in 1962 he did so, losing by a very narrow margin. He ran again in 1964 but lost again. Both times he ran an effective and well-conducted campaign and was admired and respected as a candidate.
In 1964 Bob took a position as a stockbroker in Minneapolis, turning the management of the family business enterprises to Rich Bunger, his brother-in-law, who had been working with him for several years.
In 1970 Bob embarked on his major career as director of development at the University of Minnesota and executive director of the University Foundation. He spent the next 14 years raising funds for his alma mater and creating a record of successes never before approached at the university and greatly envied by many other public institutions.
Following his retirement, he spent winters in Naples, Fla., coming back to Minnesota every year in the summer and continuing to help out with the University’s fundraising.
Bob’s wife, Barbara, and son, Stephen, preceded him in death. He is survived by daughters Susan Wood and Nancy Odegard and son, Kevin, as well as sisters Ruth Crassweller, Phyllis Thompson and Bette Bunger.
Bob Odegard lived a very productive life, was highly respected in many areas and was a credit to every one of the many associations he had in his lifetime. Princeton can be proud to count him as one of our most prominent sons.