Deceased January 6, 2019
Bob Tracy died Jan. 6, 2019, of liver cancer. Bob was a geology major and a member of Alpha Theta Xi, the Outing Club, the baseball team and the staff of WAMC. After Amherst he earned a master’s degree from Brown University and a Ph.D. from UMass. After a post-doc at Harvard, he joined the geology department of Yale University. In 1986 he moved to Virginia Tech, where he taught and did research until his death. Bob’s specialty was metamorphic petrology. He was the author of more than 90 scientific papers and was co-author of a widely used textbook of petrology.
Bob and his wife, Pat (Smith ’69), had, for many years, a rather amazing long-distance marriage, as she was a professor of history at Williams. Later, Bob and Pat had a beautiful home in Blacksburg and were extremely gracious hosts. The first time I visited them I offered to bring a bottle of wine. Bob laughed and said that would not be necessary. I understood when I saw his incredible wine cellar. (I brought gin instead.) Only after his death did I learn that he was an avid fisherman. That was an area where our interests did not intersect.
Bob came to Amherst from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., where he participated in the oldest junior Army ROTC program in the United States. He took a year off to serve military duty and therefore did not graduate until 1967. But Bob chose to affiliate with the class of 1966, with which he had entered.
Besides Pat, Bob is survived by his brother William of Springfield, Va., and his sister Betsy Pankey of Falls Church, Va. There was no funeral, but a commemorative gathering was held in Blacksburg last spring.
Charlie Scharnberger ’66