Robert L. Haarman, 83, Emily
June 18, 1938 - May 28, 2022
Bob Haarman, career Civil Administrator, led towns and cities across Minnesota.
During a lifetime of public service to towns and cities across greater Minnesota, Robert Linus (Bob) Haarman had a transformative impact on the communities he served. The hallmark of his work was the efficient use of the public dollar. He relentlessly pushed against capital expenditure which was not to purpose, gained new life out of old facilities and led several towns away from costly new public buildings. He spearheaded the successful drive to divert storm and field drainage from Clear Lake in Waseca, Minnesota in the 1970's, forging public and private partnerships and developing Federal and State grants to end toxic algae blooms. He was instrumental in the development of the thriving Sauk Rapids Industrial Park. Throughout his career he dedicated himself to serving the public trust with diligence and probity, conscious that by instilling public confidence in their government at the local level, he lifted people's expectations and confidence in higher and broader levels of government and in the power of the ideals that animate the life of our American Union.
When asked why he chose a career in public administration, Bob always said that he "wanted a say in the outcome."
A colleague, Walter Fehst, himself familiar with the tricky work of navigating the politics of town councils, the local press and the public interest said of Bob, "He told me to stand my ground, just the guy I would want in my foxhole."
After a short, sharp battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, Bob passed away on May 28th, at his home in Emily, Minnesota surrounded by his immediate family.
Bob was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 18, 1938, the son of Robert Linus Haarman Sr. and Mary Veronica Haarman, nee Bohen. He graduated from Resurrection High School in Lansing, Michigan in 1956. Bob attended Michigan State University for a year before relocating with his family to St. Paul, Minnesota following the death of his father. He then enrolled at the University of Minnesota with Forestry as his major.
Bob received a military draft notice in 1961, initially enrolled in the Marine Corps flight training program and completed his service in Marine Aviation Operations attached to VMF-312 Fighter Squadron based at El Toro Marine Air Station near Irvine, California.
Bob met his wife Janet Mae Peterson of Hutchinson, Minnesota at the 1961 Pasadena Rose Bowl between the Minnesota Gophers and the Washington Huskies. After marrying in 1962 in Fullerton, California they returned to Minnesota following Bob's discharge. He returned to the University of Minnesota and completed his studies in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, with a Public Administration focus and an Economics minor. He did post-graduate work in Public Finance at St Cloud State University.
Bob served as an Administrative Analyst at MNDOT in 1968 and led the relocation of the Historic Record Center Library from the MNDOT building on John Ireland Blvd to its Pierce Butler Route location in St Paul. Bob served Brooklyn Center, Minnesota as assistant City Manager in 1969.
Bob was appointed City Manager of Ishpeming, Michigan in 1970 and served until 1973, and appointed the first City Administrator of Worthington, Minnesota in early 1973. Bob was appointed City Manager of Waseca, Minnesota late in 1973 and served that city until 1979.
Bob was appointed City Administrator of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota in 1980 where he served until his retirement in 2000. During his tenure there he additionally served as Executive Director of the Sauk Rapids Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
After retirement he was called by the city of Sartell in 2001 and Waite Park in 2002 to work as Consulting City Administrator for budgeting assistance and recruitment of new administrators.
Throughout his life Bob was active in service of his profession and his communities. He was a Life Member of the International City/County Management Association. Bob served as President of the Minnesota City/County Management Association 1987 to 1988. Bob was a member and served as Chair of Tri-Cap (Community Action Program) for the St Cloud, Minnesota area from 1986 to 1995. Bob was a member of Great River Rotary Club from 1980 to 1999 and served as its President from 1990 to 1991. Bob served as Treasurer of Benton County (MN) Historical Society and was a member of the Executive Board of the Benton County Overall Economic Development and Planning Committee. After his retirement he continued this lifelong avocation, serving as President of Emily Lakes and River Association at Emily, Minnesota and organizational leader and past member of Lion’s club and Kiwanis club.
Bob’s interests included meteorology, gardening, birding, jazz and Cajun dancing. He and Janet spent winters in their motorhome along the Gulf of Mexico from Key West to Texas, dancing and birding together. He especially enjoyed Lafayette, Louisiana the home of the French Acadian music and culture. Robert and Janet built their retirement home on Lake Mary at Emily, Minnesota with the help of family and friends, a shared labor which gave him great satisfaction.
Bob is survived by Janet, his wife of 59 years, sons Michael Robert of St Paul, Robert Peter (Jeanne Bain) of Minneapolis, daughter Patricia Lynn Haarman (Paul Deuth) of Stacy, Minnesota, his sister Sue Sindelar (Tom) of Sun Lakes, Arizona, brother Mark, of Ely, MN and five grandchildren: Aidan, Samuel, Caroline, Finneas and Aurelio Casale. He was preceded in death by his father, mother and younger brother Timothy John of Palm Springs, California.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 pm on Friday, June 3, and after 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, both at Daniel Funeral Home, 1010 2nd Street North, St Cloud, Minnesota. A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 am on Saturday at the funeral home. Burial will take place in St. Joseph Parish Cemetery in St. Joseph, Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to either Tri-CAP in Waite Park, Minnesota or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Minnesota.