Chocolatier Bob Untiedt loved his family, his business and Geneva

  • Bob Untiedt

    Bob Untiedt

  • Graham's Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream in Geneva.

    Graham's Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream in Geneva. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2016

 
 
Updated 3/23/2021 6:14 PM

Bob Untiedt knew from childhood he wanted to own a family business.

A job at a candy company set him on the path to opening the beloved Graham's Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream in downtown Geneva.

 

Untiedt, who became deeply involved in the Geneva community, died Sunday of cancer, according to an obituary released by his family. He was 64.

"He was never happier than when he was spending time with his family and friends, leading worship, or creating his chocolates, sitting in the front window of Graham's, waving to passersby," the family's statement said.

The shop at 302 S. Third St. is the flagship. Bob and his wife, Becki, opened another store in downtown Wheaton and Graham's 318, a coffeehouse in Geneva.

"Bob's humility, hospitality and humanity was without equal. He was much more than a business owner; he embodied the very essence of Third Street in Geneva -- warm, welcoming, authentic and always fun," Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said Tuesday.

People wondered how Untiedt maintained his lanky frame working around candy. He told Burns, in a "Business Beat" television interview, that he ate about a quarter-pound of chocolate a day.

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He also explained why he used his mother's maiden name for the shop, instead of his surname: "'Untiedt's Chocolates' was just never going to make it," he said, laughing.

In a Daily Herald interview, Untiedt maintained he didn't have a favorite candy. "It depends on the day," he said. "Everything we make is my favorite version of that candy."

Untiedt considered chocolate a miracle of science. He noted how molecules align properly when chocolate reaches the correct temperature for dipping strawberries and described how air turns marshmallow white during mixing.

He had a bachelor's degree in music education and worked first as a high school band director. He played with several bands, meeting his wife when she auditioned to be a lead singer. They led a praise and worship band at St. Mark Lutheran Church in St. Charles for 10 years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The death of his father in 1987 motivated Untiedt to put his dream of having his own business into action.

"I looked and looked for a place to open my own store, and God helped me find Geneva," he said. "It has been wonderful ever since. It's just in my blood."

He was a celebrity every year on the Friday night of Geneva's Christmas Walk.

Fascinated crowds watched as he and a crew of friends and employees made 4,000 to 5,000 fresh candy canes to give away.

Scooping, folding, pulling and stretching the syrup as it hardened was hard work, he said, taxing muscles he didn't normally use.

When the Untiedts opened Graham's 318, "It felt like going back to ground zero, which was really wild," he said in another Daily Herald interview.

"I keep telling myself to relax because what we are really doing is just taking our tried and true and spinning it into a new dimension."

Untiedt is survived by his wife; daughters Jayni Wunderlich and Maddi Smith; two sisters; and three grandchildren.

A wake will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday at Christ Community Church, 37W100 Bolcum Road, St. Charles.

Memorial donations may be made to TriCity Family Services at tricityfamilyservices.org or to Lazarus House at lazarushouse.net.

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