Editor's note: In a new feature from Forum News Service, reporter Matthew Guerry will share the life stories of residents of Minnesota or the Dakotas who have died recently. Maybe you don't know them, but their stories are worth knowing. If you have a suggestion for someone to be featured, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 651-321-4314.
Robert F. Gauthier's knowledge of the Scriptures was no secret.
What was a secret was his charitable giving, a daily routine that would not come into focus until after his death.
Gauthier died Jan. 8, 2021, of natural causes at the age of 77.
The number of Bible verses he committed to memory in life is what earned the Fargo area resident the nickname "Bible Bob." Even his pastor sometimes turned to him for reference, according to Gauthier's daughter, Christi Pierce.
Gauthier's inclination to connect whatever conversational topic was at hand with a relevant Bible verse didn't come from a place of preachiness, though. Pierce said her father's relationship with God was actually quite private and personal.
"He recited Scripture because he loved Scripture. He didn’t preach to people," she said.
Less well-known were Gauthier's many and frequent charitable donations. Family members knew about some of them, sure. It wasn't unusual for him to receive commemorative calendars from the groups he regularly gave money to as a way of saying thanks.
But the full extent of his contributions — which, like his relationship to God, were personal in nature — would not be revealed until after his death.
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The avid Bible reader was born in Red Lake Falls, Minn., to Chester Gauthier and Ann Schmidt on Oct. 22, 1943. After graduating from Lafayette High School, he obtained a certificate of drafting and later served in the U.S. Army and played in the 18th Army Band during the Vietnam War. He was honorably discharged in 1967 and, two years later, married JoAnn Kargel, with whom he raised three children in Moorhead, Minn. They divorced in 1996.
Gauthier worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 29 years and retired in 2000, though he continued to work part-time for the vehicle auction company ADESA and for several other employers over the years as a maintenance worker. He played the trumpet and sang for the Prime Time Band in Fargo, N.D.
While sorting through her father's belongings after he died, Pierce said she came across a list in his handwriting bearing the names of more than 40 different charitable organizations, ministries and nonprofit outfits. Roughly half were crammed under a heading titled "Even Months," the other half under "Odd Mos."
When she checked the list against Gauthier's checkbook, Pierce discovered that her father had been donating to a different group named on the list "every single day."
"And it wasn't a hundred dollars or whatever, but he was sending $17 to this one, $23 to this one, $30 to this one, and it was on top of his 10% tithings that he gave to his church," Pierce said in an interview. "I think it was part of his routine ... to sit down and write a check every day. Because every day there is an entry in his checkbook register. Some days, there was more than one."
Names on Gauthier's list include those of Abbott House, Americans United for Life, Bread and Water for Africa, Food for the Hungry, Food for the Poor, the Prison Fellowship, Doctors Without Borders and Minnesota Public Radio. Pierce said the family knew about her father's giving but that he never mentioned or bragged about how much money he was sending or where he was sending it.
Discovering as much after his death, she said, was touching.
"I knew my dad was a generous person but I did not know the extent of his generosity," she said.
Pierce said her father would not likely have agreed to be interviewed for this article were he still living. Knowing that, Pierce said she wasn't sure about granting an interview at first, either.
"He didn't brag about it. It wasn't something that he did for recognition. He did it, I think, because it was his mission in life," she said.
Pierce said what changed her mind was the thought that, if even one person heard her father's story and was inspired to make donations of their own, then "his legacy or his mission is continuing to work."
Gauthier is survived by Pierce and sons Scott Gauthier and John Gauthier, as well as all of their spouses; his former wife; his brother and sister and siblings-in-law, plus numerous grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and many close cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Marlys Swenson, brother-in-law George Hundt, and his granddaughter, Karina Tulea.
You can read more about his life in his obituary here.