Celebration of life for Robert "Bobby" Bateman, 93, of New Salem will be 11:00 a.m. CT, Friday, July 29, 2022 at Crosswinds Community Church of the Nazarene in New Salem. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Livestream will be available on the Stevenson Funeral Home website under Bobby’s obituary.
Having enjoyed a long life with his family that he loved, and who loved him dearly, Robert Lee “Bobby” Bateman went to be with his Lord on July 12, 2022. A special thank you is extended from the family to the amazing staff at Elm Crest Manner in New Salem who took such good care of him over the last several months.
Bobby was born September 9, 1928, in Mandan, to Helen Norton and Ray Bateman. He lived his life in New Salem and was raised by his grandparents, Harley and Emma Norton, on their farm south of New Salem. His Norton family aunts and uncles also played a very important part in his life.
He attended school in New Salem and like many of his generation, formal school ended between the 8th and 9th grade when he began helping with farming and ranching full time. At the age of 21 he married the love of his life, Jeanette “Shorty” Werchau, at Peace Church in New Salem on June 30, 1950. He loved to tease her about the fact that he couldn’t remember her name on their first date so called her “Shorty,” a nickname that she would be known by for the rest of her life. They celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary in 2021, only three months before she passed away. During their life together, Bobby & Jeanette had four children and cared for 11 foster children.
Bobby always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, usually because he was thinking of some practical joke to play on friends, family members, or a staff member at Elm Crest Manner. He also loved teasing his children and grandchildren, snitching a bite of their ice cream or dessert as he distracted them with a comment like “What’s that out the window, over there?”, or other tricks that always ended in laughter and a comment like, “Oh!! Grandpa!!” He also loved a good steak, Shorty’s cooking, and a root beer float or dish of ice cream.
Farming, ranching, milking cows, and raising quarter horses were all a part of Bobby’s life on the Bateman farm. Over the years, he also held various part-time jobs including working for Famers Union Oil, John Deere, as a horse wrangler for Trails West at Ft. Lincoln, and as the maintenance man at Elm Crest Manor. His talent at laying cement tile can also still be seen in buildings and projects in New Salem and on several dairy farms in the area. His woodworking talent is also displayed in the beautiful pulpit he built and the oak cross he helped with at the Crosswinds Community Church.
Community involvement was also a big part of Bobby’s life. He was a charter member and served for 30 years on the Morton County Fair Board and helped start the popular barbequed chicken dinner at the fair. Bobby also was a charter member of the New Salem Saddle Club, a 4-H leader for the Morton County 4-H Horse Club, and served on the New Salem School Board and Credit Union Board.
After moving into New Salem, Bobby spent time in his wood working shop building barn wood picture frames, unique shelves and cupboards that would fit perfectly in special places, and trying different wood craft projects. All the grandchildren had fun watching him work as they knew he always had a stash of cookies in his shop. Bobby and Shorty’s yard and garden were always beautiful and looked like a picture from a home and garden magazine. And if there was a wedding or anniversary party where the bride and groom needed a ride, he was always excited to put on his top hat, pull out his custom made buggy and harness up his horse to parade the couple around town or take them from the church to the reception.
Bobby is survived by his children: Peggy (Gerald) Sprenger, Rocky (Nancy Jo) Bateman, Dale Bateman, all of New Salem; and Dawn Bustos of Mandan. Ten Grandchildren: Jared (Katina) Sprenger, Kimberly (Kent) Sprenger Neideffer, Jessie (John) Bateman Pfaff, Ashley (Kyle) Bateman Abrahamson, Libby Bateman, Travis Bateman, Ty (Emma) Bateman, Marisa Martinez deSilva, Elizabeth Martinez, and Christopher Bustos. Eight Great Grandchildren: Jace Sprenger; Cort Pfaff; Bridger, Emariee and Gunnar Bateman; Tomas and Mateo Silva; and Olivia Verdeja; with two more on the way. Three sisters: Betty LeFevre, Sharon (Darrel) Kirkeby, and Donna Gratz.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Helen Norton Ulmer and Ray Bateman, and his wife, Jeanette Bateman.