Robert Thomas Rood
Robert Thomas Rood Robert Thomas Rood - beloved husband, father, brother, teacher, friend, and colleague - passed away on Wednesday, November 2, 2011, after suffering a massive stroke several days earlier in New York City while he was traveling to Italy.

Bob was an integral and active part of the University of Virginia community. Since 1973, he enjoyed his work as a professor in University of Virginia's astronomy department, serving as department chair from 1999 until 2006. He taught a popular course called "Life Beyond Earth" and co-authored a book on extraterrestrial life. Bob's research spanned both theoretical studies of how stars evolve over time and observational studies of star clusters and interstellar gas in the Milky Way, as well as studying the abundances of elements cooked up during the Big Bang fireball that created our universe. Though he retired in May 2011, he remained actively involved in research. Bob was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 30, 1942. Growing up in Cary, North Carolina, with his four siblings, Bob experimented with his chemistry set, tracked early satellites, and drilled out faucet handles to make BB cannons. After studying at North Carolina State University, he earned his PhD in astrophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and conducted postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology. While Bob's career was based in Charlottesville, he enjoyed collaborating with colleagues worldwide, particularly in Bologna, Italy, but also in Green Bank, West Virginia, and Bonn, Germany.

Bob married Martha Snell in 1978 in Charlottesville after meeting on a blind date several years earlier. Bob deeply nurtured and supported his daughters and wife, with whom he made a home in the woods in Esmont. With dear friends, colleagues, and family, Bob shared his love of cooking, world travel, gardening, photography, classical music, and genealogical research. He left us too soon and too suddenly, but we are all so grateful to have known and loved him, and to have been loved by him in return. Bob is survived by his wife, Marti Snell; his daughters, Emilie Snell-Rood Eilts and Claire Snell-Rood; his brother, Ricky Rood; his sisters, Mary Ann, Margaret, and Elizabeth Rood; and many nieces, nephews, and other loving family members.

A memorial service will be held 4 p.m. Thursday, November 10, 2011, at the non-denominational University of Virginia Chapel. All are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Friends of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Dark Skies Bright Kids astronomy outreach group, and the WMRA NPR station. Friends and family can post memories and pictures at

This obituary was originally published in the Daily Progress.
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Published by Daily Progress from Nov. 6 to Nov. 9, 2011.
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6 Entries
Dear Martha,
So sorry to hear about the loss of your dear husband. Saw a posting on FB from other family only today. I know this is a difficult time for you and your daughters. He sounded like a "one and only!" My condolences.... Your cousin Susanna Snell Addesa
November 22, 2011
Marti, Our sincerest sympathy to you and your family. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Cheryl Henderson, Reid Linn, and the Region 5 T/TAC staff at JMU
November 10, 2011
As his neighbors for more than 20 years in Esmont, we will miss his friendly wave at the post office, and the sparkle in his eyes during any conversation. What an enthusiasm he had for life, big and small.
Pat Morris
November 10, 2011
My thoughts and prayers are with you in this time of sorrow.
Barbara Beverly
November 7, 2011
My sister, Pat,his classmate in Cary from 6th grade, exclaimed " Bob lived a wonderful full life" when she heard the news today. She and our mother Jane enjoyed seeing him at the recent class reunion in Cary. The Roods were a special family in Cary. Bob's
life resounds beyond words to us. I loved shooting hoops on his fullcourt dirtfloor b-ball court in Cary (the only one in town), more than even at University Hall (1964-7)
Mike Smith
November 6, 2011
im so sorry to hear about bob. he was a great neighbor.
November 6, 2011