Dallas Architect and Engineer Robert (Bob) Samuel Ekblad passed away of natural causes at the age of 97 on June 8, 2021. Bob’s 60-year partnership with fellow Kansan Cole Smith built one of Dallas’s most highly-regarded architectural firms in Smith, Ekblad & Associates.
Born at home near the Blue River in northeast Kansas, Bob grew up curious and eager to learn. The teacher at the one-room school house let him stay when he kept showing up at her door at 4 years of age, and at 16 he entered Kansas State University. Although moving many times during his father’s career as a Lutheran minister, Bob always joined the sports teams at his schools and always made friends. At KSU Bob played football and basketball, sinking the winning free throws in overtime to beat Nebraska in 1943. Although he would say the competition to play was depleted by the war, he wore his letterman’s jacket on errands for the next 20 years.
Bob earned degrees in Architectural Engineering and Architecture at Kansas State University, with a break for serving as a Navy Lieutenant JG in the Pacific Theater during WWII. In 1947, upon completing his second degree at KSU and marrying his college sweetheart, Jane Fagerberg, Bob moved to Dallas and began nearly a 70-year career as an architect and engineer (PE).
After working in two other firms, in 1959 Bob began his partnership with Cole Smith. Smith, Ekblad & Associates became well-known for its designs of many prominent Dallas homes, vacation residences and commercial properties. Work also encompassed such projects as the Jewish Community Center and the original Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies in Dallas, numerous churches, office, medical and bank buildings, apartments, condominiums, and various industrial and retail buildings. Being the son of a minister, Bob took particular interest in designing churches and related facilities.
Bob and Cole became great friends as well as business partners, finding satisfaction and joy in their work together. Long hours were common, but with a twinkle in his eye Bob liked to say “I haven’t worked a day in my life!”
Lifelong learners, Bob and Cole were active members of the American Institute of Architects. They participated in many opportunities to study abroad and at local symposiums.
Bob served two terms each on the Dallas City Plan Commission, the Dallas Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board, and the Dallas Building Code and Appeals Board. He also served two terms on the Commission on Church Architecture for the Lutheran Church in America and was president of the Dallas Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute.
Bob was an active member of the American Guild of Organists in Dallas.
As a steadfast member of Walnut Hill Lutheran Church for over 60 years, Bob served as the church organist for many years and in all other volunteer responsibilities from the Church Council, stewardship committee, and Sunday School teacher to Saturday morning breakfast cook and softball team member into his 70’s.
Bob and Jane shared a deep love of music and art both in Dallas and on their far-flung travels of the world, going to museums, concerts, operas, and experiencing the architecture and culture. They enjoyed attending the Dallas Opera and Dallas Symphony concerts and The Dallas Museum of Art exhibits for more than half a century.
Bob is survived by his wife of 73 years, Jane Ekblad; his children Tanya Clarkson (Jon), Steve Ekblad (Rhonda), Scott Ekblad (Melanie) and Karen Ekblad (Gary Smith); nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3:00 Friday, August 6 in the Chapel at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, 8011 Douglas Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75225.
In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Bob may be made to Lutheran World Relief at LWR.org.