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Robert C. Vaughan


1944 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Robert C. Vaughan Obituary
Robert Crews Vaughan III died March 6, 2019 in Charlottesville after a rapid progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. He was born June 9, 1944 in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey to Robert Crews Vaughan Jr. and Anne Cocks Vaughan. In 1946, his family moved to Crewe and then to Petersburg, Virginia, where his father was minister at Second Presbyterian Church. Rob is survived by his wife of 51 years, Ellen Parlette Vaughan, his children C. Hailey Vaughan Robertson (Rob), Liza Vaughan Coonse (Jeffrey), Rob Vaughan IV (Katherine Mariska), sister Susan Vaughan Henry (Marshall), brother Hugh Vaughan (Carolyn), and grandsons, Schuyler and Dylan Coonse, and Holden Robertson.Rob was inducted into ODK and graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1966. He began his career as an English teacher and coach at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia and in 1969 Rob and Ellen moved to Charlottesville. While completing his PhD in English at the University of Virginia, Rob was hired by then university president, Edgar Shannon as the first Executive Director of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), today Virginia Humanities. After 43 years of Rob’s leadership, Virginia Humanities has grown to be the largest and most successful state humanities program in the United States.Together with his staff and board, Rob nurtured, guided, and sought funding for the development of a wide-ranging roster of activities and programs. Rob’s determination to promote public discussions informed by the humanities in these and other areas resulted, during the Foundation’s early years, in award-winning national conferences and symposia, statewide discussion series, book discussion projects in libraries, a major museum exhibition with a traveling exhibit, as well as films, and radio programming.From the beginnings of the VFH, Rob was committed to sharing the message of the humanities through public debate and discussion facilitated by way of media and new technologies, as well as through face-to-face explorations in a wide variety of public forums. Of the major VFH initiatives, Rob may have been most passionate about the Foundation’s statewide, national and international Fellowship Program, as well as his all-time favorite program, the annual Virginia Festival of the Book, next week celebrating its 25th year. As a result of Rob’s leadership, he was elected as chairman of the national Federation of State Humanities Councils, as well as serving as president of the National Humanities Alliance. He frequently consulted at the National Endowment for the Humanities and was called on to share his insights by a wide range of organizations and agencies within Virginia and around the country as well as in Northern Ireland and China.While at the VFH, Rob taught courses in the Darden School’s MBA and Executive Education programs. Rob was honored with Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Averett University in 2008 and Washington and Lee University in 2016. In 2017, Rob received a commendation from the Commonwealth of Virginia upon his retirement for his “contributions to cultural understanding and tireless work to strengthen the humanities in the Commonwealth and the United States.” (House Joint Resolution No. 684)In Charlottesville, Rob was known for his community spirit and participation. He performed with the Oratorio Society, the Ash Lawn Opera, and with his children in Community Children’s Theater. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Piedmont Council of the Arts in 2001. He was a co-chair of the Create Charlottesville/Albemarle cultural plan, founding president of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, and an Elder on the Session of Westminster Presbyterian Church.His friends will always remember him as a ready ear for collaboration or commiseration, his family as a father, husband and brother always excited to make time for a phone call or visit. Rob’s family wishes to express appreciation and gratitude to his friend and caregiver, Margie Lewis. Thank you also to Brandy Maupin and Tonya Banks from Morningside of Charlottesville.A Memorial Service will be held Wednesday, March 13 at 1 pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Virginia Humanities’ Vaughan Fund for Strategic Initiativesat www.virginiahumanities.org/support/vaughanfund/ or Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 10, 2019
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