Robert Arthur Ristau

Robert Arthur Ristau

STOUGHTON-Robert Arthur Ristau, beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend, and man of God, went to be with the Lord on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

He was born in Appleton, WI, on Feb. 19, 1928, to Arthur and Marie Ristau.

Robert was a life-long Christian and his Christian faith was strong. He completed catechism and was confirmed in the Zion Lutheran Church in Appleton. He was a certified Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church, attending the United Methodist Church while raising his family.

Bob graduated from Appleton High School in 1946. He received his college degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: 1951 Bachelor Degree in Business Administration, along with his state teacher’s license; 1957 Master’s Degree in Education; 1970 his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education. His doctoral thesis was “An Idiographic Model for Program, Planning, and Budgeting Systems in Business Education.”

Bob believed in family, was kind and loving with a heart of gold. He married his high school sweetheart Caryl Brown, celebrating 48 years of marriage, before her death in 1999. He married the second love of his life, Jean Thompson, in 2001. He enjoyed children, his own three daughters, Nancy Holihan (Steve), Susan Haugen (David) and Barbara Nees (Jeff); and his stepdaughter, Barbara Lawrence (Dick); and between Bob and Jean his 11 grandchildren; 23 great grandchildren; and seven great-great-grandchildren. He also touched many children’s lives through programs such as AWANA and his magic shows.

He taught business education in the public school system for nine years: Spencer High School 1951-1953, Racine Horlick 1953-1955, and Monona Grove High School 1955-1960. While coaching cross country, his team won the state championship in 1959.

Bob left teaching in 1960 to become the Personnel Director with National Guardian Life Insurance Company, but moved back to education to work at the Department of Public Instruction from 1964-1968 promoting vocational education, and the Bureau of Career and Manpower Development from 1968 to 1972. From 1972-1973 he worked as Associate Director for the University of Wisconsin Center for Studies in Vocational and Adult Education, and appointed a lecturer in the School of Education.

He provided many years of service to Delta Pi Epsilon (DPE), a national honorary graduate professional fraternity in Business Education. He served as charter president of the UW-Madison chapter, was a National Council representative, served for eight years on the DPE national board, elected treasurer, vice-president, and president at the national level. He was one of the incorporators of the Delta Pi Epsilon Research Foundation. He was also involved with the Administrative Management Society, at one time holding the position of International Director of Education.

In 1973, he accepted a professorship at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). He was department head of Business Education and Administrative Services in the College of Business from 1973 to 1978, later becoming Dean of the College of Technology. While at EMU, he also served as Executive Director for the Michigan Economic Education Council. He also found time to serve as a Michigan State University advisor and chaired a dissertation committee. Later in his career, Bob served as Secretary, Vice President, and President of the US Chapter of the International Society for Business Education (ISBE). In 1992 he was elected as ISBE Vice President for the international organization.

Dr. Ristau authored a series of books on career education for Southwestern Publishing Company (Cengage): co-authored the 12th edition of the General Business textbook, co-authored four editions of the Introduction to Business textbook, and in 2001 authored the Intro to Business portion of a Business 2000 series of teaching modules. He also co-authored Mirror/Mirror Inc: An International Office Simulation text/workbook.

In service to his country, Bob was in the Wisconsin National Guard from 1952 to 1957, a Reserve Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1964. In 1993, he was commissioned at EMU as an Honorary Colonel in the Army ROTC.

Bob was a magician, organist, handball and racquetball player, golf, bowling, postage stamp collector, Sherlock Holmes fan, and hiked the Grand Canyon two times with his oldest daughter. He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Caryl; and his brother, Jerry Ristau.

Friends and family are invited to an outdoor drive through visitation from the safety your car at GUNDERSON STOUGHTON FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 1358 Highway 51 N. at Jackson Street, Stoughton, 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

A private funeral service will be held.

Family and friends wishing to view the service via LIVESTREAM may visit Bob’s obituary page and click on the Watch Webcast link at 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

A private burial will be held at Roselawn Memorial Park.

Thank you to Skaalen for months of care. Donations in his name can be made to the Skaalen Heritage Center or First Lutheran Church in Stoughton, WI.

Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson Stoughton
Funeral & Cremation Care
1358 Highway 51 N. at Jackson St.
(608) 873-4590