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Robert Kendall McIlrath

Robert Kendall McIlrath

Robert Kendall McIlrath, 67, of Pepin, WI and St. Paul, MN, died on May 31, 2022.

Rob was born on July 21, 1954 to Constance Kendall McIlrath and Donald Christner McIlrath in Kansas City, Missouri. One of four siblings, Rob was raised in Rochester, Minnesota. He graduated in 1972 from Rochester Mayo High School, where he excelled at football, basketball, and academics. He loved sports and the camaraderie of his teammates.

Rob attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1976 with a degree in Mathematics. He cherished his time at Dartmouth and the friendships he formed that lasted throughout his life.  As president of the Rugby Club, he was called “Chieftain,” a nickname suited to his outstanding leadership.

Rob was a person of surprising contradictions. A quiet person who shared his opinions sparingly, he was deeply thoughtful and widely read. Many people who knew Rob had little idea of the breadth of his accomplishments. In between his studies and sports successes, Rob pursued adventure. He solo hiked the Sierra Nevada Mountains; he learned Russian and traveled to Russia during the height of the Cold War; he worked for a circus, as a laborer on an oil rig in Wyoming, and as a deckhand on a Mississippi River barge. He was a dedicated student of life in all its variety.

In 1983, Rob earned an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago, after which he moved to Cincinnati to work for Federated Department Stores. Rob returned to Minnesota and spent his 30-year finance career at The Travelers Companies, Inc., retiring in 2018 as Senior Vice President, Director of Corporate Portfolios.

Rob met the love of his life, Barbara Beshoar McIlrath, when Barbara moved to St. Paul, MN from Rochester, MN in 1991. Over the next thirty years, Rob helped raise Barbara’s three children and travelled to both coasts to be present for the births of their five grandchildren. Rob and Barbara transformed a farmhouse and historic barn in Pepin, WI into an oasis for their loved ones and an artistic community. An impeccable gardener and naturalist, Rob planted groves of trees, filled scores of bird feeders, restored farmland to prairie, and enjoyed every moment on his riding lawnmower.

Rob’s generous spirit uplifted his community, giving his time and resources to family, friends, neighbors, and community organizations including Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Pepin Food Pantry, the Lake Pepin Art and Design Center, and the Flyway Film Festival. Rob was remembered by his friends in the Pepin community as a “sweet bear of a man, wearing his intelligence so lightly, making room for others.”

Rob was predeceased by his parents, stepmother (Alice Hoffman McIlrath) and two siblings (Chris and Laura). He is survived by his wife (Barbara Beshoar McIlrath); sister Jane (Doug) Ritts of Duluth; stepbrother Harry (Julie) Hoffman of Rochester; stepsister Martha Hoffman of St. Paul; children Emily Gosack (Joshua Tomlinson), Christina Gosack (Marc Dettmann), and Benjamin Gosack (Lori Knosalla); and grandchildren Theodore Gosack, Iris Tomlinson, Xavier Dettmann, Kai Dettmann, and Hazel Tomlinson.

Rob left us too soon. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He was a quiet leader and caregiver who expressed his love through intentional interactions. We will strive to carry forward his spirit with courage and compassion.

The family requests that donations in Rob’s memory be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church of Pepin, Wisconsin, the Lake Pepin Legacy Alliance, or Westminster Presbyterian Church, Minneapolis.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis on September 16, 2022 at 10:30 am, followed by a luncheon. https://www.westminstermpls.org


  1. Nancy J Watson

    Barbara you and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers. I loved working with Rob and the words that have been written about him perfectly describe the gentleman I worked with. I wish I was closer to attend Rob's Celebration of Life; I will be celebrating him in my heart.
    Sending a gentle, loving hug,
    Nancy Watson

  2. Bob and Michele Emerson

    Rob was our weekend neighbor in Pepin. He was social and would walk to our yard to talk/socialize. He transformed a nice farm property into a fantastic farm property. He reminded us of "Mr.Douglas" on Green Acres...a gentleman farmer. Rob even bought a tractor! He was a mellow fellow and we will miss him. He will be remembered. Our Sympathy to Barbara, family and friend for your loss.

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