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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.

WAHLERT, Robert Henry

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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1786216046:61843?tid=&pid=&queryId=3eefd472-fa14-4cb7-b49d-0a5b839f978e&_phsrc=fKS25106&_phstart=successSource


WAHLERT, Robert Henry. (Dubuque, IA, Jan, 19, 1939--Dubuque, IA, Aug. 6, 2022). President, FDL FOODS INC. The son of Robert C. WAHLERT and Celeste Wahlert, Robert worked at the DUBUQUE PACKING COMPANY as a high school honor student. While attending LORAS ACADEMY, he participated in student government and edited the school newspaper, the Crest. He received a bachelor of science degree in commerce (major in business) from the University of Iowa in 1961. The same year, he married Donna Allendorf.

Wahlert's employment in the company included serving as a sales trainee, advertising manager, and finally president of sales. He became the executive vice-president in 1973. Upon the retirement of Robert C. WAHLERT, his father in 1977, Wahlert became the chairman of the board.

Amid growing labor unrest, it was announced on May 30, 1982, that Wahlert would be in charge of labor relations. In 1982 when efforts to find a buyer for the Dubuque plant were unsuccessful, Wahlert bought the pork operation, Dubuque plant, and the fleur-de-lis trademark of the ailing DUBUQUE PACKING COMPANY for $30.5 million and established FDL, Inc. He operated FDL until its sale to FARMLAND FOODS INC. in 1996. (1)

One of Dubuque's most notable local philanthropists, Wahlert assumed responsibility for the WAHLERT FOUNDATION when his father stepped down from active management in the early 1980s. Robert H. Wahlert served on the board of trustees of CLARKE COLLEGE and the Clarke Development Council; finance committee of the Dubuque Metropolitan Board of Education; board of directors of the Epworth Savings Bank, a division of the Iowa National Investment Company of Dubuque; director of FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE; and director of KEY CITY BANK AND TRUST COMPANY. He was the city fundraising campaign coordinator for WAHLERT CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, secretary-treasurer of the DUBUQUE GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB and board of trustees, director of the American Meat Institute, fundraising chairman of the DUBUQUE MUSEUM OF ART, and member of Dubuque County Right for Life and the Five Flags Commission. (2) A life-long member of ST. COLUMBKILLE CATHOLIC CHURCH, he was a Eucharistic minister. (3)

In 1994 Wahlert joined two others from Dubuque in testifying before a United States House subcommittee on their belief that a four lane U. S. 20 was vital to Dubuque' future. (4)



1. Gilligan, Amy. "Rise and Fall of Dubuque Packing Company," Telegraph Herald, November 10, 2008, p. 38

2. Wahlert Foundation. Online: http://wahlertfoundation.org/pages/history.html

3. Nieland, Grace, "Bob Wahlert's Kindness, Philanthropy Live On," Telegraph Herald, August 9, 2022, p. 6A

4. Sisco Becky and Bergstrom, Kathy, "Area Businessmen Make U. S. 20 Pitch," Telegraph Herald, March 11, 1994, p. 1