Sayre Robert "Bob" Freeman Sayre, 80, died at his home in Iowa City on April 16, 2014, surrounded by his family. He had been diagnosed in February with metastatic melanoma. Bob was emeritus Professor of English at the University of Iowa. He was born November 6, 1933 in Columbus, Ohio, to Harrison and Mary White Sayre. His father was the founder and publisher of My Weekly Reader. Bob attended Deerfield Academy and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in 1955. He served in the U.S. Navy in 1956-57 in the Pacific on the minesweeper Reaper. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1962. His doctoral dissertation became a book, The Examined Self: Benjamin Franklin, Henry Adams, Henry James (1964). He married Constance Mitchell in 1961, and the couple had three children. They were divorced in 1973. Bob married Hutha Colby in 1988. They traveled extensively, had a wide circle of friends, and enjoyed a wonderful marriage. Bob and Hutha would have celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary on May 7th. Bob taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1961-63 and as a Fulbright Scholar at Lund University, Sweden, 1963-65. He also received a Guggenheim fellowship to conduct research at Princeton University for his book Thoreau and the American Indians (1977). Thereafter, autobiography remained a primary academic focus. His anthology American Lives was published in 1994. Bob moved to Iowa City in 1965 and taught in the English department and American Studies program at the University of Iowa for 33 years. He possessed a wide-ranging intellect and was an engaging conversationalist and teacher as well as a prolific writer. His military service experiences and social consciousness led to his personal activism in the anti-war movement in the 1960s. He and wife Connie edited and published Middle Earth News, an alternative newspaper in Iowa City in 1967-68. In the 1980s Bob's love of Iowa's natural and social history led him to edit a series of books that championed a greater appreciation of his adopted home state. These include: Take this Exit: Rediscovering the Iowa Landscape (1989); Take the Next Exit: New Views of the Iowa Landscape (2000); and Recovering the Prairie (1999). He took inspiration from Works Progress Administration guides of the 1930s, which he collected. Bob's advocacy of Iowa's natural heritage also led him to join the Johnson County Heritage Trust. He served as president from 2000-2004. Throughout his life Bob spent summer vacations with his extended family in the community of Point O' Woods on Fire Island, New York. He was a skilled sailor and tennis player, activities he pursued with gusto throughout his life. He also shared his love of the outdoors and active sports with his family. His most recent book, Fire Island Past, Present, and Future: The Environmental History of a Barrier Beach (2013) examines Fire Island's fragile and changing environment. He is survived by wife, Hutha Sayre; children, Gordon Sayre (Marsha Ginsberg) of Eugene, Oregon, Nathan Sayre (Sasha Gennet) of Berkeley, California, and Laura Sayre (Michael Evans) of Dijon, France; step-daughters, Jen Colby (Rich Wilcox) of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Miffany Colby of Delhi, Iowa; and seven grandchildren. Bob was civically active and generously supported many charitable organizations and causes. Donations in his memory may be made to the Johnson County Heritage Trust; the University of Iowa Foundation: Department of English Gift Fund; or to a
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Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Apr. 19, 2014