Remembering Bob Stahl
Robert John Stahl III November 25, 1945 - May 23, 2023
Robert John Stahl III, Bob, was a father and grandfather, husband, and friend. He will be remembered for his compassion, warmhearted nature, intellectual curiosity, and generous spirit. Bob is survived by his four children: Mandy McKee, Robert Stahl IV, Laura Stahl, and Jeffrey Stahl, by his grandchildren: Caroline McKee, Alistair McKee, and Charles McKee, and Lotti Stahl and Ruby Stahl, and by his brothers: Steve Stahl, John Stahl, and Bill Stahl.
Bob was born on November 25th, 1945, in Los Angeles California to Robert John Stahl Jr. and Beverly LeeAnn Stahl. He grew up playing in the canyons of southern California as the eldest of five brothers. As a young man, his passion for learning led him to study for his B.A. in English at San Diego State University and then to the discipline of Anthropology. In 1970, he completed his M.A. in Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and he continued on to complete his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 1978. In Bob's academic career he taught in the areas of Native American Cultural History, Native American Religion and Philosophy, Native American Oral and Written Traditions, Indian Law and Federal Indian Policy, and Cultural and Applied Anthropology.
Bob met the love of his life, Susan, in a chance encounter in 1973 in Norman, Oklahoma and it was mutual love at first sight. They married on September 7th, 1974, and shared 49 years of marriage. Bob and Susan spent five years living in Beaumont Texas. While in Beaumont, their first daughter Mischa was born. Bob taught at Lamar University and led students on archaeological tours of the southwest with Susan and Mischa arm in arm.
The young family then moved north. After a year in Fargo, North Dakota, Bob took a position at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, ultimately serving as Chair and Professor in 1989. During his years in Aberdeen, three more children were born. Bob travelled to neighboring reservations to teach and to learn from tribal members who were themselves generous friends, community leaders, and scholars. Bob continued to encourage students, fellow scholars and friends on their intellectual paths throughout his life.
In 1991 Bob and his family moved to Missoula, Montana where, at the age of 47, he attended Law School at the University of Montana. Following completion of law school in 1994, Bob accepted employment as a law clerk for the Tribal Court of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Pablo, Montana. He advised the Court as their law clerk for 20 years. Bob believed that his work with the Tribes was the most important work he accomplished in his professional career. Bob cherished the relationships he developed from that work, especially his friendship with Chief Judge Burke, a highly respected Kootenai elder. Throughout his years in Montana, Bob also taught in the Native American Studies Department at the University of Montana until his retirement in 2008.
In Montana, Bob and Susan welcomed their youngest son and Bob developed his interest in black smithing, painting and photography often featuring his love for the natural landscape. He enjoyed time outdoors, fly fishing on the Smith and Bitterroot Rivers and hiking in the Bitterroot Mountains and Glacier National Park. He was devoted to the care of his wife Susan throughout their life together and held family at the center of his purpose. Susan died in October 2022 in Montana with Bob at her side. Bob died at home on May 23rd, 2023, surrounded by his children. In his memory, the family requests donations be made to the Salish and Kootenai College (SKC) in Pablo, Montana.