Born July 20, 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, Robert Warburton, a resident of Wheaton for 63 years, passed away on March 30. He is survived by his second wife of 15 years, Mary Sheesley Warubrton. He was preceded in death by his first wife of nearly 52 years Wilma, his parents, Phoebe Hoops Warburton and Edmund Warburton, and sister Alice Hooker (Paul, also deceased). Robert was a college professor at USC, Wheaton College, Illinois Institute of Technology, and College of DuPage, where he also served as Provost.
Robert knew firsthand the glories and traumas of WWII, serving as a Navy radioman along China's coasts. Inspired by the resilience of the Chinese, he returned to this nation three times in his later years to teach English. Robert returned home from the war to earn both a B.A. and M.A. in Literature at the University of Michigan. After completing a theological degree at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, he accepted a teaching post at Wheaton College. Awarded the prestigious Danforth Fellowship, he pursued his PhD studies at The University of Chicago, writing his dissertation under Wayne Booth on the literatures of fantastical realism. Teaching literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries to college students over many years gradually gave way to a specialized scholarship in the wilderness landscapes and minimalist prose of Hemingway as well as other short story authors. For several years, Robert was an active scholar at the Ernest Hemingway Foundation in Oak Park, Illinois. The waiting lists to enroll in his courses on short story, film, and poetry at Wyndemere became legendary. Several of Robert's stories and poems are published in a volume, Walking on Water (2016).
In addition to teaching and writing, Robert delighted in gardening, painting, and community theater. His lifelong love for travel, took him not only to China, but also to Brazil, several Canadian provinces, the U.S. west, northeast, and western and northern Michigan. He and Wilma journeyed to England and France, while he and Mary adventured in Sweden and Kenya. Robert was a man of deep faith, serving in several leadership roles in Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville.
In addition to Mary and numerous friends, Robert is survived by his children, Rebecca (Michael), David (Holly Schmidt) Warburton, and Janet (Sean) of Maple Park, IL; his five grandchildren, Arianne, Seán, Meaghan (fiancé John), Éamon, and Erin.
A family service will be held in early May, while a larger funeral is planned for late summer, followed by a private burial in Hart, Michigan. For updates, please refer to the website of Hultgren Funeral Home: hultgrenfh.com
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be directed to Immanuel Presbyterian Church (immanuelpresbyterian.net
); Intervarsity (donate.intervarsity.org
); and The Nature Conservancy (support.nature.org
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store
Published by Chicago Tribune on Apr. 25, 2021.