Robert E. Fort Jr.
{ "" }
Share Robert's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Robert E. Fort, Jr. SMD, of W. Stetson Ave., DeLand, died on January 29 at Florida Hospital, DeLand, after a fall at his home. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer since early March of last year. Dr. Fort was a native of Ocala, his family having been pioneers in Marion County. He was a graduate of the University of Florida, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Eastman School of Music, and the School of Music of Union Theological Seminary (NYC). Prior to joining the School of Music faculty of Stetson University in 1965, he had taught at Coker College, Hartsville, SC. While at Stetson he was an early recipient of the Hugh McEniry Award for Excellence in Teaching and of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant study with internationally-known J.S. Bach scholar Christoph Wolf at Harvard. Dr. Fort was a life-long church musician, serving most recently as organist/choirmaster at First Presbyterian Church, DeLand, of which he was also an elder. He was active in the national Presbyterian Association of Musicians, of which he was an honorary lifetime member, serving as its president and directing one of its national summer conferences. He has written widely in this field and led workshops, hymn festivals, and choral services in various parts of the US. He served two terms as dean of the Central Florida Chapter, American Guild of Organists, and was a member of the Hymn Society of America and the American Choral Directors Association. He was a member of the music honorary society Pi Kappa Lambda and Phi Mu Alpa Sinfonia, and a Distinguished Member of the International Music Fraternity, Sigma Alpa lota. Dr. Fort is survived by his wife of 49 years, Patricia Mims Fort; and children, Robert Fort III of Lawrence, KS andCarolyn Fort of Tucson, AZ. A memorial service will be held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Wednesday, Feb. 4; 10 a.m. The family requestws that donations be made to Episcopal Relief and Development, P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058 or Heifer International, 1 World Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72202.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daytona Beach News-Journal on Feb. 1, 2009.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
14 entries
February 20, 2009
Dear Patty,
It seems like only yesterday that we were students on the Stetson campus, welcoming your arrival, enjoying the classes and music groups with Bob, or "Mr. Fort," as he was then. I can still see your family driving around Deland in the little blue Volkswagen bug with Carolyn and Robert in the back seat....see him riding up to the old music annex on his bike, his seersucker slacks and straw hat and new beard. He was "cool."
We were all so young ..... and he was young at heart as well - and such an accomplished musician, teacher and mentor to us all. You both were so secure in your selves, your craft, and your faith, and were committed to Stetson and to living in Deland; all of which made you ultra "neat." You trusted us to babysit your house when you were away, you let us build the one-and- only-ever music school float for the Christmas parade in your garage (remember that it rained and we dragged it thru town anyway, at Bob's suggestion - hoping that its rag-tag appearance would qualify us for a new building)!...and Bob tolerated the silly pranks which our class pulled on him - in retrospect, we did it because we knew that he was such a good sport.
We thrived and learned under his leadership, and grew up to connect with him in so many ways: putting his ideas to use in our lives and careers, connecting with both of you from time to time at Stetson, at Montreat, at FMEA Conventions, in Gainesville, and in the Episcopal Church.
We hope that we can get down for the memorial service during Homecoming and see you. It will be spring break here, and we will try to swing it. In the meantime, know that we send our love and deepest sympathy to all of you, and look forward to seeing you again.

Love and prayers,
David and Jo Benson
Jo Benson
February 16, 2009
Mrs. Fort,

I was so saddened today to find out that Dr. Fort passed away. My heart is heavy, yet hopeful at the same time because I know that I will meet him again one day when we see our Savior face to face!
I want you to know that he was one of my favorite professors while at Stetson ('91-'94). I will cherish the many hours spent in his office, covering various subjects such as life, faith, manhood, and of course, music! I learned so much about all of them from your husband. He is a treasure.
The last time I had the occasion to see you both was at Dr. Couch's farewell concert. You sat directly behind my fiance (now wife and mother of our 5 month old son, Israel Michael) and me. As always you both were a delight and very welcoming. Thank you for the warmth and hospitality you and your husband have shown me over the years. I will miss him very much.

God's peace and blessings,

Michael Mullins
Michael Mullins
February 9, 2009
Mrs. Fort,
I am thankful to have known Dr. Fort. He was a special, honest, inspiring, fun-loving, thought-provoking and witty man whose instruction in music was matched by his instruction on how to approach each other and life with joy. We were blessed to know him and to see the world from his perspective. There is much joy in knowing that we will all meet again one day!
Michele Wothe Caswell ('94)
February 6, 2009
I am deeply saddened to learn of Bob's death. It was my pleasure to have met him through Paul Dickey and to have sung for him when he did the music at the Episcopal church in DeLand. Patty, you and your children are in my prayers.
Beverly Stagg
February 5, 2009
Dr. Fort was my favorite professor at Stetson (where I attended from 1981 to 1984 as a church music major in voice and piano). He was a profoundly influential person in my young musical life as well as a wonderful counselor and mentor to me, as he was to so many others. I recall fondly singing as a section leader in his choir at First Presbyterian Church, in his Chapel Choir at Stetson, and getting great advice from him about all kinds of things when I needed it. He was so loved by so many people, and I will never forget him as one of the most important professors in my musical life. I will always remember his kindness, gentleness, and extreme wisdom in all matters musical and otherwise. I am saddened by his passing and offer my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to his family.

Jeff Ballard, DMA
Voice Faculty, Anderson University
Jeff Ballard
February 4, 2009
Dear Patty -
Bob remains a force in my life - powerful mentor and colleague - sensitive and compassionate human being. I am certain his presence continues in the thousands of hearts he has touched.
Thom Sleeper
February 3, 2009
Dear Patty,

I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Bob. He was such a wonderful, inspiring and insightful professor. Much of what he taught me chorally, I use with my own choirs at church. His classes were always well organized, thought provoking and spiced with a delightful sense of humor. I am so thankful I spent an afternoon with you both several years ago at your home. You should be comforted in knowing that his work lives on in each of us, his students. May God bless you and your children during this difficult time.

Most sincerely,

Bill Goff '71
Bill Goff
February 3, 2009
Dear Patty and Family,
I can't tell you how sad I am and the overwhelming flood of memories that I am experiencing.
Dr. Fort was a great influence on my life in so many ways. He will be greatly missed by so many.
My Cantabile Singers are dedicating their performances of Haydn's "Missa in Angustiis" on February 20 and 22 in Dr. Fort's memory.
My thoughts are with all of you.
Robert Farr
February 2, 2009
Dear Patty, Robert, and Carolyn,

Jason and I send our deep love and continuing prayers to you. We love you so much, Patty, and loved Bob more than we could ever express adequately to you. In our lives, he was a creative teacher of music (complex chords weren't just Neopolitan - when played by Dr. Fort at the piano, they were "oooh!" chords!), an example of a gentlemanly scholar, a mentor, an amateur meteorologist (he would often ask, "What does the sky look like today?" in order to get our heads up and out of our insular little collegiate worlds as students, noticing what was going on in the world around us), a provoker of thought, an inspiration for lifelong learning (he was a teacher who was a lifelong learner - what a contagious legacy!), and, most of all, a friend. There has been and never will be another man quite like him - such intellect and voluminous knowledge, coupled with a tender and caring heart - and we will sorely miss him. What joy to know we will be reunited with him one day.

With great love,

Kayla and Jason Paulk
Kayla Paulk
February 2, 2009
Dear Patty and family,

I am very grateful to have known Bob for the all-too-short time I did. I loved his droll sense of humor and his sharp assessment of people, performances and life in general. I will always remember him as a real gentleman and scholar--a very high quality human being. I wish you peace, comfort and many wonderful memories. Sincerely, Kat
Kathryn Huffman Sleeper
February 1, 2009
Patty & Family:

I was shocked and saddened to learn about Dr. Fort's death last week. He played a major role in my first year at Stetson (1987) as my music theory and music analysis professor as well as conductor of the chapel choir which I sang in for 2 years. He was a highly respected colleague and friend, and I will miss him. My prayers and condolances are with you and your family at this time of loss.
Tim Murphy
February 1, 2009
Dear Mrs. Fort and family,

Dr. Fort was and is a large reason why sacred music became my life's passion and the path I've followed for 27 years in the United Methodist Church. His teaching of undergraduates at Stetson was always done with a caring approach to the needs of each individual student. I so fondly remember his gentle ways , his incredible scholarship, and his good humor in imparting wisdom to us.

I had a chance to encounter him again many years after graduation at a conference and tell him my fondest memory of being in his five-days-a-week at 8:00 am freshman theory, ear training and sight singing class ( I was barely awake at 8:00 am! And having to think about sight-singing, et al was not dear to my heart at 8:00 every morning) One
morning Dr. Fort came to class and his first remark to the class was " I woke up this morning thinking about the relative instability of the minor third. Needless to say many in the class wanted to fall out of our chairs in disbelief at how Dr. Fort's mind would begin the day there when most of us just wanted to know if we had clean clothes to put on that day! We shared a wonderful laugh together when I recounted that to him years later.

My heartfelt prayers and thoughts go out to each of you and may God grant you peace as you remember and celebrate Bob's life.

With love,

Reverend Dave Collett
Coker UMC
San Antonio, Texas
Dave Collett
February 1, 2009
Dear Patty, Robert, and Carolyn,

Bob and I share with you the loss of a wonderful man. He was our dear friend and neighbor, and one who no one else could match. We loved him dearly and already miss the comfort of knowing his beloved presence.

What a legacy he has left with his wonderful family. Patty, we are here for you when you need us, just as you have been here for us.

We love you, Bob and Jackie Norman
Bob and Jackie Norman
January 31, 2009
We are very sorry to learn of Bob's death. We hope that you and your family are OK.
Ann and Bill Shelton
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences