Amherst Magazine


Published in the:

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Worcester, Massachusetts
January 11, 2009

Recent Amherst College policy prohibits the publication of obituaries on the Class Web Pages without the express consent of the Publication Source.   A copy of Rob's obituary is on file with the Class records.  You may contact the Publication Source or contact the class Secretary for a copy.

From Rob’s sister, Tucker (Massey) Clark (Wellesley ’65):

Robert (“Rob”) K. Massey Jr., died on January 7, 2009 in Worcester MA, where he was born and raised and where he had a long career in post-secondary education. He was the son of Barbara A (Steinert) Massey (Smith ’38) and Robert K. Massey, (Amherst ’37), and the nephew of Charles Churchill Stafford (Amherst ’37).

Rob’s sharp intellect was engaged widely from history to music - especially opera - from politics to passenger trains, from swimming to financial management. He earned an M.A. from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from Duke University, both in American Studies and maintained close friendships with professors from both schools.

Rob was two years older than I and taught by example. He lived determination and resolve, responsibility, loyalty to family, friends, and teachers and institutional resources that fed his first-class mind, as well as grace and gratitude for kindnesses.  He had a sense of play and of humor, the real kind that comes from a fine perspective on the human condition.  He was dismissive of phonies and never complained.

Although Rob was a clear thinker and wrote well (The New England Quarterly (Dec. ‘71) published his article on early 1930’s Massachusetts politics), he preferred teaching to writing. He was committed to his students and treated them with respect, never allowing his personal life to override his teaching commitments.

Rob swam laps almost every day even after the time a few years go when his heart stopped while swimming and he was resuscitated.

Rob was never a show off, never tried to dominate a conversation - if you didn’t know him well, you might never realize how deep his knowledge and interests were. In fact, he knew the Patriots line up as well as he knew who was singing Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera.  He knew that Warren Buffett liked cherry Coke long before Alice Schroeder’s book, The Snowball.

While at Amherst, he sent letters to several prominent American political figures asking for their opinion on a six-year presidential term. He saved written replies from many of them including Eleanor Roosevelt, Alf Landon, Sam Rayburn and, perhaps his favorite, Herbert Hoover.

A volunteer at the Worcester Animal Rescue League, Rob was also a member of the Massachusetts SPCA, American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Metropolitan Opera Guild.

In his memorial to his uncle in Amherst, Fall 2007, Rob mentioned another Class of 1937 member, Edwin C. Rozwenc, one of Rob’s favorite Amherst professors. “Will we ever see their likes again?” Rob wrote.  That’s an easy “yes” for me.  Rob was of their “likes.”