Robert L. Ellingson was born November 13, 1928 in Forestburg, SD to Loyd and Lucille (Kundert) Ellingson. He graduated from Forestburg High and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, where he majored in music and English. He began his teaching career in 1950 at Viborg, SD, teaching vocal and instrumental music and English classes. He received a Master of Music degree in 1955 from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. He moved to Mitchell where he began his 29 year tenure as director of vocal music at Mitchell Senior High. He also directed the Chancel and Chapel Choirs at First Lutheran Church and was the founding director of the Mitchell Barbershop Harmony Chorus. His dedication to his chosen field of music is evidenced by his work in the Mitchell Public Schools as well as serving on the state level as President of the South Dakota Music Educators Association, President of the South Dakota Choral Directors Association, a board member of the South Dakota Alliance for Arts Education, a member of the South Dakota Honors Choir Advisory Council and as contest adjudicator for many years. In 1985 he was recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota High School Activities Association. In 1984 he moved to Sioux City, IA, where he was a part-time faculty member in the Music Department of Briar Cliff College. He was a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sioux City, where he was director of Choral Activities, member of the Siouxland Music Teachers Association, Siouxland Master Chorale, a fellow of Augustana College, served on the board of the Sioux City Chamber Music Association and taught piano from his home. In 2006 he returned to Mitchell due to poor health and then in 2007 to Prairie View Care Center in Woonsocket.
He is survived by his sister, Phyllis (Russ) Buehler, two nieces: Wanda (Dale) Swenson and Gwen Senska, two nephews: Cullen Senska and Neil (Jeri) Senska, one grand-niece, four grand-nephews and one great grand-niece.
Memorials in his name may be directed to Briar Cliff University,
Augustana College or First Lutheran Church, Mitchell.