Robert Merle Bishman, 90, formerly of Brookings, died Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, at Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls.
Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Monday at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Visitation is at 10 a.m. Monday at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. Rude’s Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Bob was born Jan. 9, 1922, in Brookings to Roy and Myrtle (Jacobson) Bishman. He left South Dakota State College when World War II began and joined the Navy. After training at several bases around the U.S., he flew photo reconnaissance off the aircraft carrier Hornet in the Pacific, earning three air medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Presidential Unit Citation.
After the war he worked for Bishman Manufacturing while attending the University of Minnesota. Then Bob returned to Brookings to work at Dakota Fire Apparatus, eventually running and owning the business. Its main focus was the manufacture of fire trucks, some of their trucks being used at military bases worldwide. Later products included horse and cattle trailers, galvanized tanks and fiberglass conduits. Dakota Fire Ap had expanded and relocated three times before being destroyed by a lightning-caused fire. For a number of years, he also worked as civil defense director for Brookings County. After moving to Arizona he worked with son Roy, buying, repairing and reselling cars and trucks.
During his life, Bob was active in many organizations. Fifty years of involvement in the fire departments included 30 years with the Brookings department and 20 years in Arizona which began with the Tucson Estates Fire District which after mergers and expansions became Drexel Heights Fire District, where Bob was a board member, a publicly elected position, retiring in 2011 when he was 89.
Bob was a 37-year member of The American Legion, and a lifetime member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Elks Club and American Veterans (AMVETS). Bob and hiswife Dorothy belonged to a snowmobile club and helped begin the Lake Association while living at Lake Campbell outside Brookings.
While a member of Brookings Fire Departmetn, Bob rescued a 6-year-old boy from a burning house after crawling through a small third floor window. As member of AMVETS Post 770, he was on the board of trustees.
Bob loved hunting, fishing, camping and traveling. Deep sea fishing was enjoyed on camping trips into Mexico, which usually included other family members.
The remodeled vehicles, including a horse trailer, were used as early campers. Later on, he and Dorothy traveled around the US in their motor home to visit friends and family
For Christmas he always enjoyed handing out presents and goodies to the children and the grown-ups.
There was such “magic” in the Santa costume and his performance that the children and maybe, some of the grown-ups, too, believed he really was Santa.
He is survived by daughter Susan Eckert of Brandon; sons Randy (Twenny) of Hong Kong and Rex (Mary) of Harrisburg; 10 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; a great-great-grandchild and his brother Richard of Washougal Wash., and Richard's family.
He was preceded in death by his spouses, daughter, Alison Hatab and son, Roy.
Condolences may be sent to the family through www.rudesfuneralhome.com.