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Robert Harvey

1926 - 2012 Obituary Condolences
Robert Harvey Obituary
Robert Dean Harvey

October 5, 1926

November 24, 2012

Bob Harvey, retired English professor, father of four, and extraordinary personality, died suddenly at home on Saturday, November 24, 2012, at age 86. He had just enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends, and was a vital and vibrant presence until the very end of his life.

Bob was a Chicagoan and a Nevadan, a scholar and a teacher, a reader and a writer, a pianist, a lover of jazz and baseball, and, above all, a family man—loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The second of three children, he was born in Evanston, Illinois, on October 5, 1926, to James Seymour Harvey and Elizabeth Southwick Harvey and grew up in Evanston, on Chicago's north side, where he went to Evanston Township High School and was class president and editor of the newspaper in his senior year. In 1944, he enlisted in the army, trained as a signal corps specialist in Ohio, and went through basic training in Texas, where he also managed to read Gibbons's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he earned a BA in English at Northwestern University in Evanston and an MA and PhD in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago, with an emphasis in American literature. He married Frances Patton Harvey in 1960, taught at UC Berkeley from 1960-1962, and in 1962 began his 32-year teaching career in the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he taught writing and literature from 1962-1994 and served as Department Chair for two terms. He also taught at Reno's Old College and for 20 years taught a course on Justice, Law, and Literature to judges at the National Judicial College, most recently in January 2012.

On two Fulbright fellowships, he taught American literature in Caen, France in 1967-1968 and in Shiraz, Iran in 1977-1978. Bob loved the Sierra and hiked many Nevada and California mountain ranges, serving as "feuermeister" who could famously—as is only to be expected from an Eagle Scout—build a fire even in pouring rain. He and his wife Franny collected art by Nevada artists, and their house in northwest Reno saw many a lively cocktail party and gathering of friends, who would always end up crowded into the kitchen talking into the wee hours. He was a card-carrying member of the ACLU, loved Abraham Lincoln, FDR and the New Deal, and believed deeply and perseveringly in the ideals of liberté, egalité, and fraternité.

Bob's wife of 45 years, Franny, died in 2007, and he is survived by his four daughters Patsy, Debbie, Liz, and Alison; their partners Bill, Pat, and Jack; grandchildren Robbie, Maggie, Will, Katie, Lydia, and Sophia; and great-grandchildren Ollie and Frances. For all of them, and for a wide circle of extended family and friends, the world is a much-diminished place without Bob in it. A celebration of Bob's life will be scheduled in the near future. A suggestion for any gifts: a donation to the Nevada Museum of Art or Sierra Arts Foundation.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Dec. 2, 2012
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