Robert Roethler

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Robert Joseph Roethler, Sr., 69, of Emmetsburg, IA died on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg of complications due to pneumonia.

Bob was born on June 3, 1945 in Elkader, Iowa.  He was the oldest child of William and Edna (Olson) Roethler.  Growing up in Elkader, IA,  Bob had a farm background, and his hard work made him physically fit to become a wrestler. There were no youth programs back then, and he did not start to wrestle until his freshman year in high school where he was placed on the varsity squad. At Central Elkader High School he fell in love with wrestling and then continued his career at Loras College in Dubuque where he placed third in the NAIA Division.  Bob loved  the sport because it was a contact sport and taught him how to compete individually and as a team member.  After graduating from Loras, he started his coaching/teaching career at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge in 1967.  It was there that Bob met and fell in love with Kathleen Marie Kersten.  The two were married on June 28, 1969.  Bob taught American History and led the Gaels to a 37-17-1 mark in five seasons at the school.  In 1972 Bob earned his Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Truman State University. That same year Bob and Kathleen moved to Emmetsburg where Bob became the middle school guidance counselor and assumed control of the Emmetsburg wrestling program. His teams authored a 77-7-1 record, and Bob guided the E-Hawks to four consecutive state titles from 1976-79.

Bob’s life suddenly changed while at practice in 1978 when he suffered a brain aneurysm and a postoperative stroke.  Three months of intensive therapy followed, where he regained the use of his left leg; but the effects produced paralysis in his left arm. Using the lessons he learned and taught on and off the mat, Bob was able to overcome his physical adversity.  His incredible strength of character and determination made him -- like his wrestlers -- a real winner in life.  One of Bob’s  proudest moments came when he was able to return to wrestling and watch his team win their fourth state championship at Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines.  From 1985 to 1991 Bob was the guidance counselor, athletic director, and head wrestling coach at Graettinger High School.  His record there was 22-20-0.  While at Graettinger and for many years after, he was a volunteer coach for the Armstrong-Ringsted little kids wrestling program.  In 2002, Bob became the housing coordinator for Iowa Lakes Community College, Emmetsburg campus.  He continued to volunteer as a coaching assistant for the Emmetsburg program until his death.  

Bob was named the Class 2A Coach-of-the-Year in 1977; was inducted into the IHSAA Wrestling Hall-of-Fame in 1991; and, in 1998 was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Ok.  In 2010, Bob was selected to be a ‘Grand March Escort’ at the Iowa State High School Wrestling Tournament, he was inducted into the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, IA and received  National Wrestling Hall of Fame “Medal of Courage” award.

Bob was a valiant man who endured incredible challenges and achieved great accomplishments in the face of adversity. His perseverance as a teacher and wrestling coach were extraordinary and inspiring. Bob is a shining example of courage to all of us, and we will always remember his resolute dedication to doing his best under the most difficult circumstances.

Bob is survived by his Wife Kathy (Kathleen Kersten) Roether, son Robert Roethler (Nicol), Grandchildren Emma and Mason, of Johnston, IA,  Brother William (Billy) Roethler (Debbie) of Davenport, IA,  Sister Katherine Anne Pahlas (Tom) of Plainfield, Il , sister-in-law MaryLee Kersten-Day of Grundy Center, IA, brother-in-law Thomas Joseph Kersten (Joan) of Portland, OR, and many nieces and nephews.  Bob was preceded in death by his mother and father, Edna (Olson) and William Roethler of Elkader, IA, his sister Beverly and her husband Jack Stence of Elkader, IA

Visitation will be Friday, February 27th from 4-8 p.m. with sharing of memories starting at 7:30 p.m. at Joyce Funeral Home in Emmetsburg, IA.  Funeral services will be held at Holy Family Catholic Church in Emmetsburg on February 28th at 10:30 a.m.

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