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Larry Robbins(1938-2013)

Larry M. Robbins, 74, a retired English professor and a respected member of the Berkshire community, died Sunday at home after a long illness, which he fought with grace and determination. Robbins moved to the Berkshires with his wife, Wendy, five years ago, from Philadelphia, where he had taught at the University of Pennsylvania for 41 years. Here, he became an instant participant in the arts community, teaching Shakespeare and other literature courses for the Osher Life Long Learning Institute. He co-chaired the Distinguished Speaker Series for OLLI and also consulted with the Barrington Stage Company, as his passion for concerts, lectures, operas and plays never waned. Robbins was born on Dec. 12, 1938, in Denver, Colo., and came east to attend Harvard University where he sang tenor in the Harvard Glee Club. He graduated in 1961. After earning his Master's degree from the University of Wisconsin, he attended the University of California-Berkeley, where he obtained his PhD. There, Mr. Robbins met his wife, Wendy, who was also a student at Berkeley. He wrote his dissertation, which was later published by Elsevier, on Thomas Dekker, an English Renaissance writer. The couple moved to Philadelphia in 1967, when Robbins joined the faculty of the English department of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1975, he was asked to create a Communications program for the Wharton School, so that business students could become better writers and speakers. In 1985, he published a seminal book, The Business of Writing and Speaking (McGraw Hill) that has been reprinted numerous times. He also pioneered an undergraduate Arts Management program where students from the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences could learn from renowned leaders of orchestras, theaters and operas. In his last decade at the University, Robbins created one of the first Teacher Development Programs in the country, training PhD candidates and professors in every college and department of the University to become more effective classroom teachers. He retired in 2007. In addition to his academic duties, Mr. Robbins served on the boards of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, Main Line Reform Temple Beth Elohim, Wynnewood, Pa. and taught seminars for the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia. He was an active member of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire. Robbins grew up fly-fishing in Colorado, and occasionally he dropped a line in the lakes and streams around Pittsfield. He enjoyed cataloging the various mushrooms he found on the trails of the Berkshires. In the basement of his home, Robbins built a model railroad, another hobby he held for more than 60 years. His love for concerts, theater, and opera, which he shared uniformly with his wife, Wendy, were the main reasons they selected the Berkshires in their retirement. Robbins is survived by his wife, a librarian and lifelong educator, and his daughter, Elizabeth, a reporter for the New York Times. His parents, Sam M. Robbins and Evelyn Bricker Robbins, and his brother, Martin, predeceased him.FUNERAL NOTICE: Funeral arrangements are by Wellington Funeral Service. The funeral service will take place at Hevereh of Southern Berkshire, State Road, Great Barrington, on Tuesday at 11:30. The family will observe Shiva. Call WELLINGTON FUNERAL HOME for time and place. Donations in his memory may be made to Tanglewood Music Center, Berkshire Natural Resources Council or any , in care of the funeral home 220 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.


Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Apr. 30, 2013
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