Robert Elsperman, former chief of union Tarton Corp., dies of coronavirus

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ROBERT ‘BOB’ ELSPERMAN, former chief of Tarlton Corp., died April 7 of complications from the coronavirus. – Tarlton Corp. photo

Robert “Bob” Elsperman, who spent nearly 70 years at his family construction firm, Tarlton Corp., has died from complications related to COVID-19. He was 83.

Elsperman was admitted to the hospital March 30 with COVID-19-like symptoms. He died April 7, a Tarlton spokeswoman said.

Elsperman began working for his father’s construction firm Tarlton as a “cub” apprentice carpenter when he was 14 years old. He attended Cleveland High School and studied civil engineering at Purdue University.

A FAMILY COMPANY
Elsperman succeeded his father as company president in 1972 and oversaw the St. Louis-based firm’s expansion into one of the region’s leading general contractors, leading it through banner projects for Washington University, Anheuser-Busch, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum and The Muny.

“When you drive down (Interstate) 55 and see Anheuser-Busch, that’s our work. Bob was very much proud of the work we did for the brewery,” said Dave Moore, a consultant for Tarlton.

Retired Tarlton Vice President of Finance David Moore, who worked with Mr. Elsperman for decades and became a friend, said the former executive had still been engaged with the company his children now run.

Mr. Elsperman’s daughter, Tracy Hart, took over as president of the company in 1999 and his son, Dirk Elsperman, became chief operating officer that year.

In the 1980s, the company was a contractor on the then-celebrated St. Louis Centre, at the time one of the largest urban shopping malls, and forged relationships with some of the region’s largest companies, building facilities for McDonnell-Douglas, Monsanto and Southwestern Bell.

RESPECT FOR TRADESPEOPLE
“One of the great gifts of Bob Elsperman was the fundamental appreciation and respect he had and always carried for the tradespeople in the field, the people who actually do the work,” Moore said. “Because he always said, ‘the money’s made in the field.’”

Mr. Elsperman was a past president of the AGC of Missouri and served as treasurer of the national umbrella group, the Associated General Contractors of America. He served as past chairman of the board of St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System and the advisory council for the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue, the board of the Bach Society of St. Louis, the advisory board for The Salvation Army and the advisory council for the Hope Center. He was also on the advisory boards for several banks.

MEMORIAL DONATIONS
Mr. Elsperman is survived by his wife, D’Arcy, of Town and Country; children Tracy Hart, Dirk Elsperman and Wendy Guhr; and six grandchildren.

Services will be scheduled for a later date when a gathering can occur.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church stmartinschurch.org/giving, St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System Charitable Foundation worrylessseniors.org or the St. Louis Community Foundation COVID-19 Regional Response Fund stlgives.org/covid19.

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