Robert came to us from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. While there, through his journalist father Leo, he met Wilson’s widow, Edith, who befriended the enthused young scholar and persuaded him to apply to Princeton. He majored, of course, in history, exploring his passion with his thesis, “Woodrow Wilson as President of Princeton,” written under the exacting care of renowned Wilson scholar Arthur S. Link.
After earning a master’s degree at Virginia, Robert employed his literary and historical talents at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the National Archives, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Smithsonian, and for the Librarian of Congress James Billington ’50. He was an associate trustee of the Wilson Presidential Library.
Twenty years ago Robert returned to Princeton as a writer for the development office; he formalized for the University the poetic tasks he had long been performing for the class. Among his assignments were the inscriptions for historical markers throughout the campus, in Latin, English, Irish … whatever. Thus his thoughts live on in bronze, brass, granite, and limestone.
Robert is survived by his four brothers, Leo, Anthony, Eugene, and Michael; their spouses, including his close friend Ardith Cullinane; and their children and grandchildren. A memorial service in Princeton will be scheduled for the spring.
When his classmates miss Robert or feel their own mortality, they make their way to the Class of 1970 Plaza on Washington Road overlooking the Woodrow Wilson School, and recall our time together in his inscribed words: “In a Season of Unrest/Amid the Crossfires of the Left and Right/We Found Here/In Gothic Halls and in the Goodness of Friends/The Keep of Reason/And the Steadying Bond of Community.”