Robert J. Aldern, "an artist and a gentleman," passed away on June 11, 2011 at the age of 82. He was born in Sioux Falls on Jan. 16, 1929 to John and Emma Aldern. He graduated from Washington High School in 1947 and from Augustana College in 1951 with a major in art where he was influenced by Professors Palmer Eide and Ogden Dalrymple to work in liturgical art. After a term in the U.S. Air Force, Bob attended Hartford Art School, U. of Hartford, Hartford, CT, where he earned his BFA.
Upon returning to Sioux Falls, Aldern was employed by Spitznagel and Associates. Harold Spitznagel afforded him the opportunity to begin his commissioned liturgical artwork, the first of which were several projects at St. Mary Catholic and the soaring Ascension scene at Our Savior's Lutheran in Sioux Falls. Immediate success was bestowed upon the young artist when he was awarded the Silver Medal by the New York Architectural League for Design on the sound baffle at St. Mary Church.
Among his many commissioned works were reredos art forms for three International Lutheran Youth Conventions; Stations of the Cross, Christ the King Catholic, Sioux Falls; reredos paintings for the Augustana College Chapel; sanctuary wall, King of Glory Lutheran Dallas, TX; mural, Sioux Valley (Sanford) Hospital; lobby panel, Avera McKennan Hospital; triptych, Good Samaritan Corporate Offices, and four large paintings for the Good Samaritan Jerstad Center, Sioux Falls; reredos paintings, Gloria Dei Lutheran; laser cut steel panels, rest stop, Chamberlain, and others too numerous to mention.
Aldern also served as the second director of the Civic Fine Arts Center in Sioux Falls. He taught at South Dakota State University; chair and professor of Art, USD; chair and professor of Art, Augustana College.
Some of Aldern's awards were: Alumni Achievement Award, Augustana College; SD Arts Council Senior Artist Fellowship; SD Governor's Award in the Arts; Spitznagel Award for Artistic Achievement; Mayor's Award for Achievement in the Arts.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Joey, of Sioux Falls; children, Marlys (Tony) Solbach, Vermillion, Noreen (Robert) Groethe, Minneapolis, MN, Jared (Mary) Aldern, Clovis, CA; grandchildren, Gretchen (Anthony) Burbach, Vermillion, Jessica (Wallace) Livesay, Friendswood, TX, Rachel (Grayson) Witt, Houston, TX, Clayton Aldern, Minneapolis, MN, Natalie Aldern, Rome, Italy; Jacqueline and Belinda Aldern, Clovis, CA; great-grandchildren, Abby, Benjamin, and Sarah Burbach, Vermillion; a brother, John (Elaine) Aldern, Ft. Collins, CO; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. Aldern was preceded in death by his parents, a son, Bradley; brothers, Deane and Joseph; and a sister, Ann (Carl) Muffly.
Memorial services were held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 18, 2011 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.
Memorials may be directed to the Aldern Art Scholarship Fund at Augustana College.