Amherst Magazine

Reverend Robert S. Denig

Reverend Robert S. Denig '68 died May 20, 1995.
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From the 25th Reunion Book:

Freshman photo and submitted photo


Since1968 my life has centered around three good decisions:

The first decision: Five days after our graduation I married Nancy Howard Watkins (Smith ’86), who I had dated since February of our freshman year. In a lot of ways I guess we have grown up together. And almost 25 years later I still think she is the most interesting and desirable woman I have ever met. She is a landscape architect, who has designed everything from private gardens to a downtown New York park to public housing sites to the world’s first overhead orangutan transit system for the National Zoo.

The second decision: After years of wrestling and trying out alternative possibilities, I decided to follow a childhood sense of “call” to the ordained ministry. I got a couple of graduate degrees from the University of Chicago Divinity School and was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1973. Since then I have served as a chaplain on three campuses (Smith, Mount Holyoke, UMass/Amherst) and as rector (pastor) of three parishes, including five years at the Anglican Church in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and eight years at a large suburban church in the Washington D.C. area.

The third decision: After 13 years of Marriage Nancy and I adopted two children while in Germany. Julia (now 12) is the most beautiful girl in the world, has already read more books than I ever read in college, and plans a career as a rock musician. Nicholas, better known as “Nico” (now 11) is feisty and full of charms, plays catcher and bats clean-up on Little League teams, and plans a career in the Majors.

This past October I was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts. So we are just beginning to settle into the life in the Connecticut River Valley once again. Our lives are full (too busy but rewarding). When I think of four years at Amherst two things stand out: Prof. Don Pitkin’s wry and gentle understanding about the way the world works (a little bit of which, I think, he managed to impart me) and freshman English, which taught me the power of words and how to use them. I look back over the past 25 years and think I am slowly learning to trust God more, take myself less seriously, and rejoice in little victories along the way. Despite my share of struggles, disappointments, and sadnesses, my life has been, on balance very, very blessed.




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