Bob died peacefully in his sleep with his family at his side Nov. 30, 2020, in Los Alamitos, Calif., where he had been a longtime resident and small business owner.

Bob arrived at Princeton as a graduate of the Nichols School in Buffalo, N.Y., where he had been school president and a three-sport athlete. At Princeton he played on the freshman soccer team and was an award-winning sports photographer for The Daily Princetonian. He majored in psychology and was a member of Cap and Gown.

Immediately after graduation, Bob pursued freelance photography for two years before earning his master’s degree in media technology at the University of Texas, Austin)\. While at UT, he met his future wife, Debbie Fielder, an accomplished pianist earning her master’s degree in music education. They married, moved to the Los Angeles area and raised two children, Matthew and Amanda.

Bob became a broadcast studio engineer for several large media companies and conglomerates. Tiring of the big corporate scene, in 1992 he bought an independent security and access control business based in Los Alamitos. He enjoyed owning and operating a thriving business until selling it to key employees in 2017. 

For 35 years until his death, Bob was an adjunct professor in media arts at Los Angeles Valley College. He was highly rated by his students, many of whom went on to successful careers in the broadcast industry in Los Angeles. One student subsequently hired Bob to do freelance assignments for ABC News, a third occupation he enjoyed. His favorite assignments were managing the remote live broadcasts in challenging conditions, like Charles Gibson ’65’s nationally broadcast interview of Sarah Palin from her home in Wasilla (challenging in a few ways!) or custom-making a trailer in 2012 to broadcast a Presidential nominating convention in a Florida hurricane. ABC was the only network with a live feed for the proceedings.

Bob is survived by his two children, Matthew, of San Francisco, Calif., and Amanda (Callum Taylor) of London, England; his mother, Paula, of Washington, D.C.; brothers Bruce ’72 (Tracy) of Aspen, Colo., and Marshall ’82 (Virginia Russell Merrifield ’84) of San Diego, Calif.; five nieces and nephews; and his partner of 15 years, Shelley Rygg. His father, D. Bruce Merrifield ’42 (1942’s class secretary), predeceased Bob in January 2017. Bob then took over writing ’42’s PAW Class Notes column until his own passing. 

Class Year: 
Undergraduate Class of 1975