MARSHALL — To say that Bob Aufenthie had a big personality might be an understatement.
“You knew when he entered a room,” said Bob’s son Charlie Aufenthie. But at the same time, Bob was likable and outgoing, and had a drive to help out in his hometown, Marshall community members said.
“He loved Marshall, and he always wanted to serve and do things,” Charlie Aufenthie said. He said his father was proud to have been involved with projects like the establishment of the Marshall area YMCA, and more.
Bob Aufenthie, a longtime Marshall resident, businessman and community supporter, died Saturday. He was 90. Services for Aufenthie are pending.
Aufenthie was born in Rochester, and grew up in Redwood Falls. After graduating from St. John’s University in 1955, he served in the Army in Korea. Aufenthie was assigned to work at the United Nations Command Headquarters in Korea from 1956 to 1958.
In a 2021 interview with the Independent, Aufenthie said he attended about 30 meetings between U.N. officials and North Korean leaders as part of his military service. In the evenings, he also taught English conversation at a South Korean university, he said.
Aufenthie later returned to southwest Minnesota, teaching and coaching at Morton High School and at Central Catholic High School in Marshall. In 1965, he faced a major career change.
Charlie Aufenthie said that, at that time, Bob had been let go from his teaching job in Marshall.
“He didn’t know what he was going to do,” Charlie said. Then one of Bob’s college friends, Gene Fujan, told him about an opportunity at State Farm Insurance Companies in Marshall.
Although Bob was hesitant at first, being an insurance agent turned out to be a great fit.
“It was the best move he ever made,” Charlie Aufenthie said. As a former athlete and coach, Bob had the drive that State Farm was looking for. He was also a good communicator with clients.
“He was a very good insurance agent, because he explained things so well,” Charlie Aufenthie said. Bob’s career with State Farm lasted 30 years.
In 1980, Bob was featured in a State Farm television ad, together with Marshall area resident Chad Wyffels. “There was a crew from California, and they filmed him right in his office,” Charlie Aufenthie said. “He let me out of school for a couple days so I could watch.”
The TV spot was aired during college basketball broadcasts, Charlie said. “He was pretty proud of that.”
Throughout his life, Aufenthie was active in the community in a variety of ways. He was a member of the Rotary Club for more than 50 years, raised funds for the United Way of Marshall during local telethons, and served on the board of directors for the Southwest Minnesota State University Foundation.
Aufenthie was also very proud of being involved with the establishment of the Marshall Area YMCA. He served as the chairman of the YMCA board for its first six years.
“His enthusiasm for the Y was amazing,” even before the facility was built, said Theresa Lubke. Lubke, the first executive director for the Marshall Area YMCA, said Aufenthie’s community connections and confidence that the project would be successful were a big help in building support for the Y.
“He was just a big personality,” Lubke said. “I always enjoyed having a conversation with him,” she said. Even if she disagreed with Aufenthie about something, it was still great to hear his ideas.
“He was just a great ambassador for the Y,” said current YMCA Director Tom Bolin. “Right away, I could tell his passion.”
Whenever Aufenthie visited the Y, he would always stop to ask how things were going, Bolin said.
Ron Halgerson said Aufenthie’s enthusiasm and leadership showed in community projects like the YMCA, and in updates to Liberty Park in Marshall like new landscaping and bandshell improvements. Aufenthie and Halgerson were among the Marshall Rotarians who worked on the park project in partnership with the city of Marshall.
“Bob was instrumental and hands-on in that,” Halgerson said. “When he got involved in things, he was a vocal, ‘Let’s get this done’ kind of guy.”
Charlie Aufenthie said Bob set a good example for him, and always encouraged him to take the high road.
“I’m very proud to be his son,” he said.