Robert L. Ellingson


November 13, 1928 - September 30, 2012



Robert L. Ellingson was born November 13, 1928 in Forestburg, SD to Loyd and Lucille (Kundert) Ellingson. He graduated from Forestburg High and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, where he majored in music and English. He began his teaching career in 1950 at Viborg, SD, teaching vocal and instrumental music and English classes. He received a Master of Music degree in 1955 from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. He moved to Mitchell where he began his 29 year tenure as director of vocal music at Mitchell Senior High.  He also directed the Chancel and Chapel Choirs at First Lutheran Church and was the founding director of the Mitchell Barbershop Harmony Chorus.  His dedication to his chosen field of music is evidenced by his work in the Mitchell Public Schools as well as serving on the state level as President of the South Dakota Music Educators Association, President of the South Dakota Choral Directors Association, a board member of the South Dakota Alliance for Arts Education, a member of the South Dakota Honors Choir Advisory Council and as contest adjudicator for many years. In 1985 he was recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota High School Activities Association.  In 1984 he moved to Sioux City, IA, where he was a part-time faculty member in the Music Department of Briar Cliff College. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sioux City, where he was director of Choral Activities, member of the Siouxland Music Teachers Association, Siouxland Master Chorale, a fellow of Augustana College, served on the board of the Sioux City Chamber Music Association and taught piano from his home.  In 2006 he returned to Mitchell due to poor health and then in 2007 to Prairie View Care Center in Woonsocket.

He is survived by his sister, Phyllis (Russ) Buehler, two nieces: Wanda (Dale) Swenson and Gwen Senska, two nephews: Cullen Senska and Neil (Jeri) Senska, one grand-niece, four grand-nephews and one great grand-niece.


Memorials in his name may be directed to Briar Cliff University,

Augustana College or First Lutheran Church, Mitchell.



Thursday, October 4, 2012
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
First Lutheran Church
411 North Duff
Mitchell, South Dakota


Thursday, October 4, 2012
10:30 AM
First Lutheran Church
411 North Duff
Mitchell, South Dakota


Sunset Memorial Cemetery
Mitchell, South Dakota

Posted by Georgi Streetman on November 2, 2012
I cannot measure the gratitude I have for what you kindled in me, Mr. E. A,sort of awkward girl with a big voice who had no idea what to do with it. You saw/heard something so much more than my capacity to understand at the time, and everything since that has unfolded in my life in the way of musical accomplishment has blossomed from the nurturing you gave, from your magnanimous generosity of spirit. I salute your commitment, your passion for bringing out the best in others, and your unflagging commitment to excellence. Thank you. You touched every member of my family, and what you gave has multiplied many times over in what has been 'paid forward'. "Music speaks louder than words; it's the only thing that the whole world listens to....When you sing, people understand." ("Music Speaks Louder Than Words" by Harold Payne) For the understanding you have facilitated in our worlds, Thank You, Mr. Ellingson!
Posted by Laerry Ayres on October 11, 2012
I loved music as a small child: Mr. Ellingson taught me to APPRECIATE music. Altho we both knew I would never become a vocal 'wonder of acclaim', I continue to sing (not in public), but to my satisfaction and enjoyment. My life has been better because of his efforts.
Posted by Georgiann Crum Crouse MHS\'60 on October 10, 2012
I have very fond memories of singing under Mr. Ellingson in triple trio, girl's glee, and mixed chorus. He helped me in my struggle to decide if I was an alto or a soprano and also at music contests in Platte with both vocal and alto sax solos. I enjoyed being his colleague the year that I taught at MHS, too. He inspired his students to love music and to do their very best.
I am still singing and I feel certain that he has joined the Heavenly Choirs!! He will be remembered by his students!!
Posted by Cathy Bolen Adams on October 6, 2012
Mr. E. was a major influence in my life in music. He had a wonderful gift of music that he freely shared with all of us and touched our lives in MHS choir, Changing Winds, and church choir. Prayers to the family for peace at this time.
Posted by Kathy Ziegler Chalhoub on October 4, 2012
So much of who I am today is because the one wonderful man took an interest in an insecure student and told me that he believed in me. Mr. E. gave me the gift of singing and the joys of choirs, musicals and Changing Winds. Today I sing for you, Mr. E. May you be blessed in heaven as you have blessed me on earth.
Posted by Darrell Bolen on October 4, 2012
Like so many other Mitchell High School and 1st Lutheran Church youth, Bob Ellingson was an encouraging presence in my life. 30 years ago Bob E. recruited me for the 1st Lutheran Church adult choir and I'm still singing in that group today. Bob E. often returned to visit Mitchell and would stop by the church choir room to congratulate all members on a fine holiday cantata presentation. Truly my life and that of so many others has been enhanced by our love of music which Bob E. encouraged so long ago. Bob E. will be missed, but his legacy will live on in all of us!
Posted by Tim Burns on October 4, 2012
My choir director (school and church), vocal instructor, piano teacher, organ teacher, barbershop quartet coach, Changing Winds, musicals... A great inspiration and kind, kind man. Thanks Mr. "E!"
Posted by Jackie (Streetman) Austin MHS'64 on October 3, 2012
Mr. Ellinson's contageous love for music infected the Streetman family during our high school years in the 60's and continues to this day. He instilled the desire for performace perfection and then went diligently about convincing a bunch of unruly teenagers that we were capable of attaining such a lofty goal by patiently and painstakenly showing us how. His gentle nature and twinkling humor are warmly remembered. Yuylo
Posted by Joyce Sejnoha Burnison on October 2, 2012
Mr E, you have touched our family in so many ways, in music and in life, in school and at church. You taught us how important the small things really are. I remember you "warming up your voice" as we drove to music camps. I remember you pulling out your hair when we were less than the best! Always a true gentleman - we miss you.
Posted by Julie Storla Parker on October 2, 2012 you hear that wonderful sound? The angels have waited for our Mr Ellingson and now he's filling the heavens with his beautiful music. His work on earth is finished. God Speed!!!!! May the angels enjoy you as much as we did.
Posted by Stella Shaffer on October 2, 2012
We were champions. This music and choir director and teacher led soloists and ensembles to win every first-place prize at state music contests for many years. Our high school concerts and musical shows were performances the whole town was justly proud of. I've thought of him over the years.
Posted by Laury \'Gregg\' Mosher on October 2, 2012
There was never a greater influence on the entire Gregg family than that of Mr. Ellingson!!! He taught an entire family how to enjoy music and we are eternally grateful!
Posted by Susan Johannsen on October 2, 2012
My condolences to you, Aunt Phyllis, and to you Wanda,Gwen, Cullen and Neil. I know the love of music in your family came from your Uncle Bob and the example he set for you.
Posted by Arden Goering on October 2, 2012
A great choir director at MHS when I attended. I have many great memories of taking part in choir competitions and musicals that he directed while I was a student. He will be missed!
Posted by Bryan and Wini Arneson on October 2, 2012
We knew Bob from his time in Sioux City. Good friend and a true gentleman. Have very fond memories of our group trip to Italy. Bob made sure he got to La Scala. Remember tossing our coins in the Trevi Foundation in Rome. He didnt miss a trip. A life well-lived.We will miss him
Posted by Larry Wegehaupt on October 2, 2012
A great choir director, vocal teacher, and man. You influenced so many people over so many years.
Posted by Dianna Senska on October 2, 2012
He was a great many must have great memories of him in the Mitchell area for all his contributions in the music world. I love his many Barber Shop performance. Many he rest in peace...and will be missed by many.
Posted by Ralph Olawsky on October 2, 2012
This man molded my life. I can't remember a time in my youth when he wasn't a major influence on me. He was my piano teacher and my church choir director long before I even got to MHS where with choir, Winds, musicals, All-State, contest, he continued to teach me to love music. Heaven is surely richer today and the heavenly choirs will certainly sing more beautifully now. Thank you God for sharing him with us.
Posted by Jeannie Wilson Tyler on October 2, 2012
Heaven is richer and so are all of his former students..Ditto to the great times in Changing Winds, All State, Choir, Musicals and all the ways Mr. E patiently taught and supported his young musicians.
Posted by Ruth "Hersey" McCleeary on October 1, 2012
He was one of my favorite teachers. Accapella choir was my favorite class and he made it so. He influenced my desire to sing. I pray for peace for his family and a quick home going for him.
Posted by Vee Ann Sattler on October 1, 2012
OMG the memories... In large part I pursued music ministry as a career these past 40 years because of Mr E and his gift! Choir, Changing Winds, musicals, you name it, Mr. E - you will be missed.
Posted by Foster Iversen on October 1, 2012
Mr E. Thank you so much for putting up with me. I am humbled and so honored to say "I know you".
Posted by Meredith Hilton McLeod on October 1, 2012
Mr. "E" you were the best Choir teacher!!! Keep playing in heaven! You will be missed.
Posted by Carmen "Brane" Mueller on October 1, 2012
ahhhhh....the wonderful memories of "Mr E." that come to mind are so numerous, it could fill a book for sure. Choir, All State Chorus, Musicals, Concerts, Changing Winds...MHS was so fortunate to have had such kind and gentle soul at the helm of the music department for so many years. Mr fought the good fight, now Rest In Peace! You will surely be missed by many.
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