Amherst Magazine
dr. Robert Bruce Reppa, Sr. '41

Bob Reppa died August 23, 2005 on the way to the Inova Alexandria Hospital.  He had Parkinson’s disease.  At the time of his death Bob was a resident with his wife, Jane Maynard Reppa, of Alexandria, VA.  

Bob was born in Richmond Hill, NY, raised in the Panama Canal Zone, and graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute.  At Amherst he was a member of Beta Theta Pi and majored in Political Science.  
    
Called to active duty in the Army in 1941, he was initially assigned to the Panama Canal Zone and later served in the European theater during World War II. He was captured by Germans on the second day of the Battle of the Bulge in December, 1944. Sent to prisoner-of-war camps at Nuremberg and later Hammelberg, he suffered through inadequate heat and food, depending upon twice-monthly Red Cross packages to survive.

According to a 1994 article in the Army’s Soldiers magazine, the fourth Armored Division’s Task Force Baum fought sixty miles through German territory to liberate the POWs at Hammelberg, but the force was too small to handle the hundreds of POWs who were wandering in the darkness. The task force was surrounded and wiped out. Bob was among the few who escaped, but four days later, their group was recaptured by the Germans and returned to the camp, where they helped bury their fellow prisoners. After a month-long forced march to a point just east of Munich, Bob and another soldier escaped again, taking refuge in a German house that flew a white sheet. U.S. forces finally freed them in May, 1945.
    
Bob and Jane Maynard (Mt. Holyoke ’41) married in 1946 and raised two children, Robert Jr., who died in 2002, and a daughter, Katherine or Kathy, of Carbondale, CO, the mother of two sons.

After the war, Bob remained in the Army. At Fort Hood, TX, he commanded the first Medium Tank Battalion, 67th Armor. He was a staff officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s national intelligence analysis and estimates office, Middle East branch, from 1961 to 1966, when he retired as a lieutenant colonel.
    
After retiring from the Army in 1966, Bob began a career, first as a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland.  Three years later he joined the University College division as coordinator of its degree program.  He earned a Master’s degree in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Government and Politics in 1973.  His dissertation Israel and Iran: Bilateral Relationships and Effect on the Indian Ocean Basin was published by Praeger in 1973.  Subsequently Bob developed and initiated Maryland’s weekend program through which thousands of part-time students obtained graduate degrees and was named Assistant Vice Chancellor to administer all of the University’s statewide activities including five thousand credit and twenty-three thousand noncredit students.

Bob’s second retirement came in 1978.  Avid travelers, he and Jane visited many parts of the world after his retirement, including Germany, France, Belgium, Mexico, and the Panama Canal Zone.  Their particular avocations have been cultivating an extensive Japanese garden and antiquing to add to their collection of Limoges and Minton china and sterling dresser sets. Writing for the Olio Revisited of 1981, Bob summed up by saying “For my part, I believe that my lifetime activities have resulted in the direct betterment of my family and a host of military and academic associates and thus, indirectly, to this country.  Just as I have benefited from the opportunities, including Amherst, afforded me, I trust that I, in turn, have made it possible for those others to so benefit in the future.  Amen.”

—Henry B. Prickitt ’41

 

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