Robert Saastamoinen Profile Photo
1935 Robert 2023

Robert Saastamoinen

January 9, 1935 — October 14, 2023

Robert Arthur Saastamoinen 

Robert Aurthur Saastamoinen, age 88, passed away on Saturday, October 14, 2023, in Albuquerque (ABQ), New Mexico. A longtime resident of Bellevue, WA, he spent the later years of his life in ABQ near three of his daughters and three of his eight grandchildren. 

Robert was born in Billings, Montana on January 9, 1935. As a youth, he lived with his family in Montana, Wyoming, and Kenilworth, UT. Robert was a hard worker and began earning money when he was just 10 years old. He delivered newspapers in the morning and evening and lit the lamps around town. He worked for a butcher and stocked at a grocery story. Being so young, he was paid in goods, like a ham or a halibut. In high school he worked at a gas station. 

From a young age, Robert wanted to serve his country and help the underprivileged around the world. Robert was a proud veteran who served in the Korean Conflict. He joined the U.S. Army, Army Security Agency, in July 1954, where he was involved in communications intelligence. He spent time in both Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan. Robert spoke multiple language, including Spanish and Russian.

After he returned from his military service in Asia, he earned an Associate of Science degree at Carbon College, in Price. He then transferred to the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He pursued an International Relations Master’s degree program and continued his studies of the Russian language. His U.S. Army service gave him college credits toward this program and he was just a thesis short of a final degree.

Robert, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baptized his father Aurthur when Robert was 16 years old. Robert met his wife, Leah Jessen Saastamoinen, at a Courtship and Marriage class at Carbon College in Price, UT. In 1959, they married in the Salt Lake Temple and were married in this life for 61 years before Leah’s passing in March 2020. Robert loved his wife Leah and their six daughters…Holly, Heidi, Hope, Heather, Hilary, and Hildja. He was proud of his children and his eight grandchildren.

After marriage, graduation, and the arrival of their first child Holly, Robert began his career in Pocatello, ID selling large trucks and farm equipment for International Harvester. His career took him from Pocatello, ID, to Broomfield, CO, to Cheyenne, WY, to Spokane, WA, and then to Miami, FL. While working in Miami, he sold trucks and large equipment throughout South and Central America. He traveled to 37 countries and became fluent in Spanish. Robert and his family moved to Bellevue, WA where he worked for truck companies Isuzu, Navistar, and Paccar. He retired at 65 years of age, after 42 years of combined employment among these three truck companies. After many years of retirement in Bellevue, Robert and Leah moved to beautiful Anacortes, WA for a couple of years before moving to Albuquerque. 

Robert was proud to be an American. He enjoyed foreign travel and languages, photography, cars and trucks, dogs, hunting, fishing, target shooting, genealogy, electronic gadgets, spy novels, collecting, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate shakes. He instilled in his children the importance of honesty and working hard.

In the church, Robert especially had fond memories of his calling as a Sunday School President in Spokane, and his many years working as a Family History Consultant in Bellevue. In addition to researching his own family history, and his wife’s family history, he also helped many people discover their family roots. 

Robert was preceded in death by his wife Leah Jessen Saastamoinen, March 2020; his baby daughter Hope; mother Florence Edwards Saastamoinen; father Arthur Emil Saastamoinen; and sister Sandra Poarch.

Robert is survived by five of his daughters: Holly (Dennis) Southwick (ABQ), Heidi Saastam (ABQ), Heather (Matthew) Gibbs (London), Hilary Hunter (ABQ), and Hildja Saas (Bainbridge Island). His eight grandchildren: Travis, Taylor, Trent (wife Chloe), and Tate Southwick; Joshua, Kelley, and Adam Gibbs; and Sebastian Saas.

Robert is also survived by Dee Painter, wife of the late Roy Painter, a beloved cousin; nieces and nephews Jeff (Melissa) Poarch; Paula (Skip) Andringa, Howard (Laurie) Jessen Jr., George Jessen, John (Jean) Jessen, Jennifer (Tommy) Jessen-Rohlfing, Patsy (Roy) McWhorter and Stacey Wagstaff. Also, close family friend Janet (Ron) Norviel, and many other family members and beloved friends.

The Saastamoinen Family would like to thank the many doctors, nurses, and caregivers who helped care for Robert during his final years in ABQ. These include Life Spire Assisted Living on High Assets (especially Director Ryan Khatibi), Navaeh Hospice, The VA Regional Medical Center in Albuquerque, and the University of New Mexico Hospital system.

Robert’s ashes will be interred with his wife Leah in the Price City Cemetery in Price, UT. A graveside service will be held for both Robert and Leah on Monday, March 25, 2024, at 11:00am. Arrangements are in the trusted care of Fausett Mortuaries where friends are always welcome and may share memories online at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert Saastamoinen, please visit our flower store.

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Monday, March 25, 2024

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