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2014 Badger of the Year WAA HOI Chapter

Robert D. Espeseth

Robert D. Espeseth was born Cameron, WI in 1930 attended Cameron High School, participating in athletics and other activities. Senior Class President and Salutatorian, he entered the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1948 on Rennebohm and Navy ROTC scholarships. He played on the Freshman football team and switched to Crew in the Spring of 1949. Robert rowed on Varsity Crew 3 years and earned a National Championship in 1951. As an undergrad, he participated in "W" club, Hoofers, Nautilus Society, Phi Delta Theta fraternity, and held a meal job at Liz Waters Girls Dorm.

With a degree in 1952 in Landscape Architecture and Naval Science, he commissioned an Ensign in US Navy where he served 3 years active duty on USS Purdy(DD-734), Korean War Service. After active duty he stayed in the active Naval Reserve completing 30 years of service and retired as a Captain. He commanded Reserve units in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois and has remained active in military organizations and veterans affairs. He returned to UW Graduate school in 1955 and received a Masters Degree in Regional Planning in 1956.

In 1956-67 Robert was Chief of Park Planning, Wisconsin State Park System, during greatest expansion of system in its history. From 1967-73 he was part of Genesee County Park Commission, Michigan as Deputy Director and Head of planning and development during formation years. From 1973-95 he served as a faculty member at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dept of Park and Recreation Admin. and Cooperative Extension Service as Outdoor Recreation Specialist Board member and officer in State park and recreation associations in Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. He was part a board member and brand officer for the National Recreation and Park Association. He held various committee assignments and was a frequent speaker at National and Regional meetings.

Robert also spent 30 years as an NCAA Track and Field Official and Intercollegiate Rowing Assn. official. He spent 15 years as a certified high school basketball and football official. He was part of the Wisconsin Alumni Association--On formation committee for establishing the WAA East Central Illinois Chapter about 1982. Has served on the Board of Directors and every officer position several times, Founders Day Chair and Chair of several Badger Huddles at U of I. He is a long time contributor to WAA, U of W Foundation and U of W Crew Assn.