1929 - 2021
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Robert Vladimir Krotkov, 91, of Hadley, died peacefully in his sleep on February 14, 2021 due to complications of COVID.

Robert was born on July 17, 1929 in Toronto, Ontario, the oldest of two children of Gleb and Valentina Krotkov, immigrants from Russia. Robert grew up in Kingston and graduated in 1951 with a BA in Physics from Queens University. During college, he and his family built a cottage at Eagle Lake with their own hands, ferrying supplies over the ice in the winter. He returned there throughout his life, finding unsurpassed peace and quiet. His delight in measuring the exact time of sunset at Eagle Lake, and in long backpacking trips in the western United States, showed his deep reverence for the natural world. Other passions included listening to classical music, meditating, and reading aloud to his family.

Robert knew from an early age that he wanted to be a physicist, and his passion for physics never wavered. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University in 1958. While at Princeton, he married Joan Mason. They raised a family together, sharing a passion for the great outdoors, before divorcing amicably in 1980.

Robert was an enthusiastic teacher, and never tired of asking the "big questions" about nature and reality. He was curious about absolutely everything, and wanted to probe deeply into the "why" of any topic. He served as a faculty member at Yale University from 1960 to 1966, and taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, from 1966 to 1997, continuing as Professor Emeritus until 2017. During his career, he won awards for his teaching, and conducted research on high-energy particles and astronomy.

In 1994 he married Bonita Janes. They lived happily and peacefully in Hadley for almost 30 years, spending many summers at Eagle Lake. In 2021 he moved to Linda Manor in Leeds.

Robert is predeceased by his wife Bonita, by his son Peter, and by his parents and sister Mary. He is survived by his son Eric Krotkov; his daughter Sonia Krotkov and son-in-law Scott Norris; his daughter Jasmine Krotkov; his former wife Joan Mason; his grandchildren Claire, Grace, and Gabriel; his daughter-in-law "Bert" Szala-Krotkov and granddaughters Kirsten and Sonia; his step-daughter Beth Cohen, step-son-in-law Bryan Cohen, and his step-granddaughters Hannah and Emily.

A virtual memorial service will take place on Sunday, February 28, at 2:00 EST. Please visit for information about participating in the memorial.

To honor Robert's life-long love for nature, memorial donations may be made to Trustees of the Reservation (

We will miss him.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 16, 2021.
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4 entries
February 24, 2021
I've known Bob for a few decades as a fellow Physics Professor at UMass. I enjoyed working with him for about 10 years on the annual Physics Department Newsletter, which he co-founded with Gerry Peterson in 2000. It was always a pleasure to interact with Bob. He had an extremely wide-ranging interest in life in general and physics in particular, along with a refreshingly different way of looking at things that interested him. I will miss him.
Monroe Rabin
February 23, 2021
My deepest condolences to the entire family. Robert was an amazing person and I’m glad I got a chance to know him. He will always be remembered with love.
Alla Medow
February 23, 2021
When I was a child, I dreamed that one day I would buy a large piece of land and give a piece to all my family and friends so that we could all build cottages and spend time next to each other. When I got older I realized that this would not be possible until we built our cottage next to Robert and Bonnie! Thank you both for helping me fullfill my dreams! Spending our summers with you were the happiest days of our lives! We were so fortunate to get to know all our relatives! We will continue our relationship with Robert and Bonnie in our dreams! The rest of you... call and visit anytime!
Alex Medow
February 19, 2021
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