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Robert Etter 1948 – 2024

Robert Raphael Etter, 75, of Side Lake, MN, died peacefully Wednesday, January 31, 2024, in Lee County, FL after complications following a surgical procedure.
Robert was born on June 4, 1948, to Ernest and Beryl (Hughes) Etter in Park Rapids, MN. He graduated from Menahga High School in 1966 as valedictorian and continued his education at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND, on a football scholarship. There he earned a degree in electrical engineering and played on the 1968 and 1969 national championship Bison teams which he continued to cheer on throughout the years. More importantly during this time, he married his high school sweetheart, Sandra (Day), and welcomed his son, Terry. Following graduation, Robert enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War and was accepted into the Field Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK. He was proud to be in the OCS 5-71 class. The camaraderie and friendships developed during this time were a very meaningful part of his life. Upon graduating top of his class, he chose to stay at Fort Sill and teach Field Artillery Survey until honorably discharged in 1973.
Robert’s career path routed him back to MN where he and Sandra welcomed their son, Jason, while living in Hoyt Lakes. After working at Erie Mining Company for eight years, Robert transferred to Hibbing Taconite Company until retiring in 2009 putting in 36 years with Cleveland Cliffs in various job roles.
Robert’s talents were numerous. He was an exceptionally accomplished builder and handyman having either built from the ground up or remodeled beautiful additions and homes in MN and FL. He demonstrated his talent and passion for building early when, at age 12, he helped roof the church parsonage and built his own small cabin on Stocking Lake in Menahga. Later, he built a cabin on One Pine Lake near Ely, where family enjoyed gathering and being together. In 1981, when the family moved to Side Lake, he promptly set out to build their current house on Perch Lake where he delighted in watching his grandchildren play and grow. His strong hands built so much for so many.
Robert enjoyed big game hunting as well as canoe and backpacking adventures in MN and MT. In later years, he liked keeping up with the latest in rifles, handguns, and reloading along with his old Ford tractors.
A prolific reader, Robert assembled a diverse library. Most recently, Pulitzer Prize winners and runners-up were on his reading and collection list. He enjoyed recommending titles to his family and had an amazing recall for everything he read and experienced. He often had his nose in a book, encyclopedia, or map and was always gathering interesting anecdotes and obscure facts from those he met. Robert’s voracious reading and curiosity made him a fantastic storyteller.
Robert and Sandra loved traveling around the country together exploring its history and marveling in its beauty. Visiting family in the Pacific Northwest was always a highlight. Upon retiring, they traveled even more, eventually finding their winter home in Fort Myers, FL and experiencing their new surroundings. They enjoyed their much earned rest and relaxation as well as visits from their family.
Robert is survived by his wife Sandra of 56 years, sons: Terry (Peggy) and Jason (Camille); treasured grandchildren: Thomas, Emma, Madeline, and Jasper; cherished niece and nephews: Justin, Catharine, Carson, Eric and their families; brother- and sister-in-law: Jim Renner and Susan Day-Renner; brother Jeff Etter; sister Mary Etter; and many special friends and neighbors.
He was preceded in death by his parents; sister Susan Etter; father- and mother-in law Leslie and Alva (Knowles) Day; and brother-in-law Gary Day.
Robert will be fondly remembered for his strength and big heart, his desire and willingness to help, his storytelling, his good-natured ribbing, and love for his family and friends.
The family would like to express heartfelt gratitude for all well-wishers who knew and loved Robert.
A celebration of life is planned privately with family.

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