Bob grew up in Greensboro, N.C. He attended Choate. At Princeton he played freshman football, rugby, and lacrosse. He worked on The Daily Princetonian and was a member of the Westminster Society, the 21 Club, and Cottage Club.
During the war Bob was assistant fleet entertainment officer in the Navy in Honolulu and Guam. He graduated cum laude in English, then earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia. He married Renee Haenel of London, England, and they had three daughters. He later married Kathryn “Kitty” Conway, a professor at Wellesley College.
He taught English at Smith College, Amherst, and Princeton. For two years in Freiburg, Germany, he was a Fulbright professor and for one year he taught at Heidelberg. He became a professor of English and American literature at Brandeis University, where he was chairman of the faculty senate, director of the University Studies Program, and on the Academic Planning Committee. He was on several boards, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.
Bob was known for injecting quotes of poets and writers into every conversation. He created the Wellington Prize at Brandeis, awarded by lottery to non-tenured young faculty. Following Kitty’s death in 2005, Bob married his longtime friend Mary “Mandy” Nash.
Bob died Nov. 15, 2019. He is survived by Mandy; his daughters, Jill, Sally, and Liz; four granddaughters; and seven great-grandchildren.