Dr. Robert A. Wilson
1937 - 2020
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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. - Dr. Robert A. "Bob" Wilson, 83, of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, died suddenly, Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

Bob was born April 1, 1937, in Danville, a son of W. Reynold and Mildred I. (Paul) Wilson. He and his sister, Louise, grew up in Shamokin.

In his youth, Bob, aka "Whip," organized several jazz and dixie land bands, and even received a drum scholarship to Valley Forge Military Academy. He was a ham radio enthusiast from age 12 to his recent membership in the Lewes Amateur Radio Society.

He served in the Delaware National Guard in the early 1960s.

Bob attended Franklin and Marshall College and received his B.A. and M.A. in sociology, and in 1969, his Ph.D. in sociology and demography from Temple University. In 2000, Bob received a Master of Science degree in epidemiology from Erasmus University, in the Netherlands.

While pursuing his degrees, Bob was appointed the first chief of research and statistics for what was then the Delaware State Welfare Department. In 1965, he joined the Community Services Council of Delaware, focusing on planning and evaluation of neighborhood service centers.

Bob began his career at the University of Delaware in 1968, at the inception of the Division of Urban Affairs, later known as the College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and finally, today known as the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration. He also held a joint appointment with the Department of Sociology.

Among many courses, Bob taught public management statistics, introducing a lab that helped students apply statistics to real data. He established and directed the Health Services Policy Research Group, which was the recipient of numerous, federally-funded grants pertaining to drug and alcohol abuse, gambling and social indicators. His research had an impact on state and federal policy, and was a training ground for many students pursing research careers in government and social science consulting firms.

Bob co-authored several books, including an urban sociology textbook and more populary, "The Delawareans," a profile of the social and economic characteristics of the people of Delaware. He co-founded a startup providing software to improve the capture and processing of focus-group data. He received a one-year appointment to the Center for Addiction Studies at Harvard Medical School.

Bob's last assignment at the university was with the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research. On his retirement in 2009, Bob was named professor emeritus. Bob loved his friends and colleagues at the university and so appreciated the continued contact afforded through the Biden school network. He was a loyal Blue Hen football fan for 50 years.

Most of Bob and Lynn's married life was spent in Wilmington, Delaware. They enjoyed a summer home in Rehoboth from the early 70s, to which they retired, making a final move to a new home on Rehoboth Bay.

Rehoboth was a great place to spend Bob's last years, where he could keep close to old friends and make interesting new ones. He was in the process of writing his memoirs, recalling his love for his Shamokin childhood, while recognizing the need to pursue new opportunities.

Bob is survived by his wife of 55 years, Lynn (Dockety); his son, Andrew and his wife, Dioumy, and his granddaughters, Aicha and Jenna, of Columbia, Maryland. Andy brought such joy to Bob that he thought he was the luckiest father in the world. Thanks to Bob's precious granddaughters, he came late, but happily, to girls' soccer, ballet, the flute and musical theater. An added pleasure contributed by Dioumy was his introduction to the rich culture of Senegal, West Africa. Bob's life was further enlivened by his Dockety in-laws. He also leaves behind his sister, Louise Wilson, of Willow Valley, Lancaster. Louise, 13 years older than Bob, was a supportive big sister, especially after their father died when Bob was only 10 years old.

WILSON - Dr. Robert A. "Bob" Wilson, 83, of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Contributions in Bob's honor may be directed to the University of Delaware's Biden School, Gift Processing, 83 E. Main St., 3rd Floor, Newark, DE 19716. Make checks payable to "University of Delaware" and include on the memo line "Biden School - In memory of Dr. Robert A. Wilson."

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Published in The News Item on Sep. 15, 2020.
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