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Robert Samuel Lernhardt | 1936 - 2021



Robert Samuel Lernhardt

June 21, 1936 - February 3, 2021


Robert Samuel Lernhardt was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Bluma and Ben Lernhardt and was part of an extended Jewish family connected to the Rodfei Zedek congregation on the south side of the city. Robert’s father was a cantor at the synagogue and his mother a professor of religious studies at the University of Chicago. Bob spent much of his childhood wandering the campus at U. of C., often frequenting the Oriental Institute, an archaeological museum on campus. Bob, in fact, loved all the museums in Chicago, and procured yearly passes to each and every one of them. Not a week passed when Bob could not be found at the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute, the Field Museum or the Adler Planetarium. If relatives came to town, Bob was the one who took everyone on museum tours. He knew every major exhibit and kept a calendar of all the touring ones and did whatever he could to rub elbows with the curators. It was no surprise to anyone that once Bob finished high school at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, he would go on to study archaeology and anthropology at the University of Michigan. Bob spent six years at U. of M., going straight from his B.S. into the master’s program. It was during his master’s studies that Bob met the love of his life, art student Siobhan Merkley. Siobhan could often be found sketching archaeological artifacts that were on display in Bob’s department and the two finally struck up a conversation after continually bumping into each other on campus. Only months after meeting, Bob and Siobhan went back to Chicago to get married, having recently discovered they were pregnant with their first child. Siobhan’s parents came up from Asheville, North Carolina and the couple were married at reform synagogue, KAM Isiah Israel. Siobhan loved the rituals and traditions of the Jewish wedding and family life, though her parents found both the big city and this new religious culture a bit of a shock. Regardless, everyone celebrated Bob and Siobhan's union and sent the couple off in style to their new life and home in St. Paul, Minnesota. And it was in St. Paul that Bob and Siobhan resided for the remainder of their lives. Bob went on to complete a PhD in anthropology from University of Minnesota and then became head curator for the Science Museum of Minnesota. Siobhan continued her work as an artist, while also raising their three children: Rachel, Irene and Neal. Bob and Siobhan enjoyed a rich life in St. Paul. Their household was full of music, art and science, along with a menagerie of pets. On winter days, Bob and Siobhan found a quiet reprieve snow shoeing through the woods behind their house and in the spring and summer were avid gardeners. All of their children went on to attend University of Minnesota and continued to live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with their own children. Siobhan preceded Bob in death by just one year. It was a very lonely year for Bob, and his children imagine that he was relieved to have so soon joined his partner in the afterlife. Bob is survived by his three children and his many grandchildren: Amy, Theo, Ben, Sarah, Emily, Lauren, Michael, Leslie, David and Brian.


A small, family-only funeral will be held for Bob at Mount Zion Temple on 2/11/2021. Bob will be buried at the Lernhardt family plot in Highland Park, Illinois and a memorial service for extended family in Chicago will be held at Rodfei Zedek Congregation in March, date TBD. Donations in Bob’s name may be made to the Jewish National Fund.


Bob's grandchildren...


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Invité
12 oct. 2021

Bob will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.


Sam & Dede

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