Robert Conklin

Robert Nichols "Bob" Conklin


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Obituary of Robert Nichols Conklin

Robert Nichols Conklin (1939–2024)

Robert Nichols Conklin (Bob), an extraordinary soul who hiked through life’s landscapes, has embarked on his final adventure at the age of 84 years, 5 months, and 7 days. His legacy is an improvised, uncharted path of courage, passion, and a deep reverence for the land.

Born in the heartland of America, to Eileen Maloy and Robert Conklin, Bob defied convention from the outset. At the age of 16 he shocked his parents with a phone call after a 2800-mile hitchhike to Alaska.

His spirit continued to soar as he experienced the vast expanse of the Nebraska Sandhills, where he tended to hogs and trained bird dogs in the face of wind-whipped prairies. The earth clung to his boots, and the sun etched lines of wisdom on his weathered face.

The Sandhills sparked agriculture in city boy, Bob. He seized the opportunity to blend his love of canoe country (acquired during his teenage canoe guiding experiences) and built a dairy farm in the Minnesota Northwoods. The farm diversified to include a chaos of draft horses, riding horses, ponies, chickens, ducks, rabbits, sled dogs, and even a raven. The rhythm of the seasons and milking machines along with scents of hay and silage filled the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Yet, the pang of distant lands beckoned. In the mountains of Honduras, Bob became a farmer of dreams for his new family. Among terraced fields and mist-shrouded valleys, his diversified agricultural style persisted. His sweat and determination became steward to tropical crops and a new animal menagerie. The mountains embraced him and his spirit.

Robert Nichols Conklin’s non-conventionalism called him in a myriad of directions. His life unfolded like a well-worn map:

  • Sled Dog Musher: He raced across frozen landscapes to camp with troubled youth to instill winter survival and the internal conviction to succeed. The howl of huskies and malamutes echoed across the frozen landscape in celebration.
  • Activist: His voice resonated in community buildings and forest clearings, advocating fiercely for Wilderness preservation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA).
  • Canoe Country Guide: With a paddle in hand, this teenager navigated and portaged the BWCA waterways, revealing hidden wonders to those who followed.
  • Teacher of English: His words bridged continents, teaching language and culture both in the United States and Latin America.
  • Newspaper Editor: Ink-stained fingers spun tales of resilience, community, and the heartbeat of rural and Reservation life.
  • Writer: His pen danced across pages, capturing sunsets, storms, and the quiet moments that define existence.
  • Artist: Brush strokes painted landscapes, and sketches revealed the soul of a place.
  • Builder: Timber and sweat built barns, homes, shelter.
  • Tribal Friend: He listened to ancient stories, honoring the wisdom of indigenous communities. He advocated towards the wellbeing of the people and their sovereign nation.
  • Athlete: On the track and in pools, he raced against time, leaving ripples in his wake. His running prowess earned him a Nebraska state title in the 4x4 relay in 1956 for Creighton Prep.
  • Coach: He coached, often times to the chagrin of the athlete/student/child, but left life lessons…and many, many stories!
  • Father: He brought intelligence and insight to his children Jennifer (and Dale) Heglund, Jane (and James) Angelo, Lia (and Trevor) Olson, Gwyn (and Paul) Roos, David Conklin, Robert (Bobby) Conklin (deceased), Juana Aylin Conklin (deceased). His free spirit helped shape their lives.
  • Grandpa: He spoke proudly of his grandchildren: Chandra Langseth, Dimitri Angelo, Alexandra Dean, Nicholas Angelo, Emily Olson, Nolan Olson, Xander Cuate, Angel Cuate, Willa Roos, Rolman Robert Conklin Amaya, and Keily Conklin Amaya.
  • Great grandpa: This year he was delighted to learn of the birth of his great-granddaughter, Freya Dean.
  • Husband: Married to Janice Marie for nearly 25 years, sharing children, hopes, challenges, and ultimately the serenity of closure.
  • Partner: Common-law husband of Reina Isabel for over 30 years, together raising three children, bearing the heartbreaking loss of two, reveling in the beauty of their mountaintop home and grace of their humble footprint.
  • Brother: In his younger days, he took his role as big brother seriously and provided help and counsel to Richard Conklin, James Conklin (deceased), Michael Conklin (deceased), Mary Eha (deceased), and Terese Conklin (deceased).
  • Gentleman: His hat tipped to passing strangers, a nod of recognition to shared humanity.
  • Naturalist: He knew the language of birds, the scent of rain, and the pulse of the seasons.
  • Agriculturalist: Soil ran through his veins, and even as his final days approached, he sought opportunities to lead a sustainable lifestyle through plants and domesticated animals.

As we bid farewell to this free spirit extraordinaire, let us honor the legacy of a man who trekked with wolves, whispered to trees, and held the world in his gnarled hands. May the wind carry his laughter, and may the stars mark his path.

Farewell, Robert Nichols Conklin. May your spirit roam the prairies, woodlands and mountains forever.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Robert
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Cremation Society Of Minnesota | Brooklyn Park