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Robert Rodman

1940 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Robert Rodman Obituary
Robert David Rodman

May 19, 1940 - January 15, 2017


Robert David Rodman was born May 19, 1940 to Nathan and Sonia (Brodsky) Rodman of Boston, MA, immigrants to the United States from Ukraine via Ellis Island in 1905. Robert Rodman grew up in North Hollywood, California. He died on Sunday, January 15, 2017 at his home in Raleigh.

Rodman was an accomplished academician earning multiple degrees with honors and distinction, including a Bachelor's degree in mathematics with a minor in physics, a Master's degree in mathematics and a Master's and PhD in linguistics, all from UCLA. After graduating in 1961, he worked for General Electric as a computer programmer in development of the first commercial nuclear reactors.

In 1973, Dr. Rodman moved to North Carolina to accept his first full time teaching role as a Professor of Linguistics at UNC-Chapel Hill. Around this time, he co-authored "An Introduction to Language." This seminal work in the field of linguistics, now in its 11th edition, has been translated into eight languages and has sold millions of copies throughout the world.

A few years after moving to the Triangle, Professor Rodman accepted a tenured position in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, where he taught programming and mathematics in the Department of Computer Science for 38 years. He loved to teach, and despite daunting physical challenges in recent years, he taught up until the end of his life. Dr. Rodman gave his final lecture only a month before he passed away.

On the research front, Rodman's work at the forefront of technology and the intersection of linguistics and computer science is recognized throughout the academic and forensic worlds. In 2009, he was elected into the American Academy of Social Sciences as an Associate Fellow for his achievements in Computational Forensic Linguistics. His pioneering work in the field of voice recognition helped usher in the now ubiquitous ability of computers to understand human speech.

Rodman was passionate literati with a remarkable ability to quote at length great works ranging from Shakespeare to Harry Potter. He wrote and published two full-length crime novels in his free time, and is credited by the Oxford English Dictionary for coining the term "montague grammar."

Dr. Rodman's passions included playing and listening to classical music, art, literature, travel, fine wines and dogs—especially sheepdogs and his beloved rescue greyhounds. He is survived and deeply missed by his brother, Jack Rodman of Seattle, WA, his first wife, Joanne Rodman of Falls Church, VA, and their children, Zachary Rodman, of Arlington, VA, and Emily Rodman, of Takoma Park, MD., four grandchildren, and his second wife, Helen Krauss of Raleigh, NC.

A memorial service for Dr. Rodman will be held April 29, 2017 from 3PM to 5PM at the North Carolina State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Rodman's honor may be made at www.trianglegreyhound.org
Published in The News & Observer on Apr. 23, 2017
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