As a designer and art director, Bob Boldt shaped some of downtown Minneapolis’ most prominent events and images: Dayton’s Daisy and Jubilee sales, its Spring Flower Show and Target’s iconic bull’s-eye logo.
As a retiree, Boldt kept creating, designing logos and programs for his church — all by hand, and all with the same care and detail he’d given to the major advertising campaigns he’d overseen for Dayton’s and Target.
“We knew if he took up residence in front of the church photocopier that he was in development mode,” said Rev. D. Foy Christopherson, a pastor at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
So when Boldt died Feb. 11 at age 90 after suffering a fall and a pulmonary embolism, it was no surprise that he’d already served as the art director of his own memorial service. He’d designed the program, written an obituary and left a file full of notes about his last big event: “Bob Boldt Grand Finale — Facts, Thoughts, Questions.”
The facts of Boldt’s life are these: Born in Faribault, he was an only child who graduated from Rochester High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the Minneapolis School of Art — now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. A brief stint at a downtown Minneapolis ad agency was interrupted when Boldt was drafted into the Army. (In his self-penned obituary, Boldt said he “spent two years guarding a typewriter in Missouri.”)
After he was discharged, Boldt returned to Minneapolis and relaunched his advertising career at Dayton’s and, eventually, Target, where he was creative director. Chuck Swenson, a longtime copy chief at Target, said Boldt was behind many of the design concepts that are now indelibly linked to the Minneapolis company.
“He was instrumental in really making Target stand out from all other advertising, with bold, clean lines,” he said.
At the office, Boldt stood out as a steady, reassuring presence in a line of work that came with plenty of deadline pressure and high expectations. When less-experienced employees panicked over a problem or assignment, Boldt stayed calm, said Sonja Larsen, a former Target advertising director. “Some people who are artistic think they are entitled to be temperamental, and he certainly was not,” she said.
Boldt’s creativity extended far beyond his work. He had a penchant for bow ties, developed after he sliced his necktie on a paper cutter. He crocheted and made macramé creations, including a colorful “granny square” vest he’d wear around Christmas.
At office holiday parties, Boldt performed magic tricks. At Central Lutheran, he played piano and organ.
Downtown, Boldt was a well-known figure, regularly attending performances of the Minnesota Orchestra and maintaining a rotating dining schedule at various eateries.
Swenson recalled a lunch last year with Boldt at Zelo, a restaurant on Nicollet Mall. When the staff spotted Boldt, they swarmed the table to say hello — and the manager insisted on picking up the check.
“I felt like I was eating with a celebrity,” Swenson said.
Last November, Boldt celebrated his 90th birthday with a well-attended party at Hell’s Kitchen. After news of his death spread, several restaurants sent flowers to his church.
Boldt is survived by several first cousins and a wide network of friends. Many attended his memorial service, at which the programs were printed to his exact specifications, down to the type of paper, and the selected scriptures came with annotations.
Read one: “This fits my thought that if you aren’t enjoying or having fun at what you are doing, the results will show.”