Robert L. “Bob” Eberhard, the familiar face and voice of Redmond-based Eberhard’s Dairy Products, died Tuesday at his Redmond home, ending his battle with cancer, family and colleagues said He was 82.
Bob Eberhard was born May 6, 1935 in Prineville to John and Nelda Eberhard. In 1953, Bob graduated from Redmond Union High School. He attended Central Oregon Community College before transferring to Oregon State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in business with a technical minor in dairy products. Bob was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.
Bob met his wife Kaye at OSU and they were married on July 3, 1958, and were together for 57 years until Kaye passed away on March 25, 2016. They had two children: Theodore Lee, who died in April 2011 from ALS, and Holly Lynn Eberhard-Maloney, who survives. Also surviving are grandson James David (JD) Maloney, Jr., and two step grandchildren: Connor Flanagan and McKenzie Flanagan.
After graduating from OSU, Bob went to work for Del Monte in San Francisco and then Seattle. In 1962, Bob went to work for Dictaphone Corporation in Seattle. Bob and Kaye adopted their first child Theodore Lee and in August of 1964, Bob, Kaye and Ted moved to Redmond to join the family business with his father, John Eberhard. In 1965, the Eberhard family grew with the adoption of their second child, Holly Lynn.
During that time Bob, joined with his two brothers, Jack and Richard, working together with their father and other family members, expanded the family business into what it is today.Currently, Eberhard’s Dairy Products is a full-service dairy operation, located in Redmond, employing
over 50 people, with distribution throughout state of Oregon. It is currently operated by third-generation family member, Mark Eberhard, Bob’s nephew.
Bob has created a lasting impact and legacy in Redmond, Central Oregon and statewide with his community service as a member and chairman of the boards of St. Charles Health System and Central Oregon Community College.
Redmond leaders reacted with sadness to the news, and saluted Eberhard’s role in the city.
“Bob himself was just an institution, a philanthropist. His fingerprints were everywhere,” said Mayor George Endicott. “A lot of the improvements you’ve seen around town, he’s devoted time or effort to.”
He served as a board member and president of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce and of the Redmond Executives Association, and the boards of High Desert Museum, Redmond Development Commission, OSU Alumni Association, and the Beaver Club. Bob was an avid Beaver supporter, rarely missing the Beavers’ home games. Bob was a member of the Redmond Presbyterian Church.
In the business world, Bob served on the board of the Oregon Dairy Products Commission, and as a board member and chairman of the board of the National Quality Check’d Dairy Products Association. In addition, Bob served on the board of directors of a number of other businesses in which he owned an interest.
“What a lot of people will not know, is they’ll never know how many people Bob has put into business in Central Oregon, and the companies that he’s been involved in,” said Ron Bryant, a longtime friend.
Bryant said Eberhard held meetings behind closed doors, helping people out of the spotlight, just out of the good of his heart. Bryant said he estimates Eberhard helped about 25 local businesses along the way.
Bob is also survived by his brother Richard Eberhard, sister Mary Louise Barnes, and many nephews and nieces.
Services information is forthcoming, with Redmond Memorial Chapel, presiding over arrangements.
Bob Eberhard’s family-owned business took on the big dairy companies with his pitch: “If you don’t see it on the shelf, tell the manager, ‘I want my Eberhard’s!’
Eberhard worked with his father, dairy founder Jack Eberhard, to help lead the company from its beginning as a small, four-person butter and dry milk operation to the full-service dairy operation it is today; processing milk, cream, flavored milks, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter and ice cream, and delivering these products throughout Central and Eastern Oregon.
The company was founded in 1954 by Eberhard’s father, a Swiss immigrant, who bought farm-separated cream from local farmers and sold it to the community. In 2005, the firm made a formal commitment to sustainable dairy products, to buy milk from farmers whose cows have no growth hormones.
Bob Eberhard’s role as company spokesman — with the familiar jingle, “Your Local Dairy – Your Local Cow” — was joined a decade ago by Moo Moo Belle emblazoned on their product labels, as well as a “live” costumed personality appearing at events around the community.
OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson said in 2012 that Eberhard had been a strong supporter of higher education in Central Oregon and was respected by people throughout the region, including OSU-Cascades students, for his leadership in business and the community.