Cover photo for Robert Freeman Whitman's Obituary
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1925 Bob 2024

Robert Freeman Whitman

July 9, 1925 — April 9, 2024

Concord, Massachusetts

Robert Freeman Whitman  (Bob), of Newbury Court in Concord, MA, died at home on April 9, 2024, at the age of 98. He was born in Boston, MA on July 9, 1925, to Alfred Freeman Whitman, the Executive Director of the Children's Aid Association, and Fanny Marie Whitman (Whitman), a social worker.  He graduated from Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge, and trained and served as a navigator in the Army Air Force from 1943-1946. After his military service, he completed his undergraduate work at Cornell and a PhD in English at Harvard. While at Harvard, he met and fell in love with Marina von Neumann, who became his wife of 68 years. 

After teaching as an Instructor at Princeton from 1955-1960, he took a faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a respected scholar and beloved teacher of English and Irish drama until his retirement in 1988. He was the author of three books: The Play Readers Handbook, Shaw and the Play of Ideas, and Beyond Melancholy; John Webster and the Tragedy of Darkness. After his retirement, he spent 30 years establishing a wide-ranging legacy of work on behalf of local drama, music, and other artistic endeavors in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

Beyond his work, he was a man who loved many things: time and travel with his family, hosting parties for his wide community of friends (in Princeton, Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, and Concord), opera,  boogie-woogie piano, and the exploration of the medieval churches of Europe and the red rock canyons of Utah and Arizona. 

Bob is remembered for his grace, warmth, and good humor. He is mourned by his wife, Marina, his son Malcolm, son-in-law David Downie, grandchildren William Downie and Lindsey Downie, and close family friends Tracy Keller and Caroline Otto. His great sadness in the last year of his life was the loss of his daughter Laura, in January 2023. 

 A memorial service at Newbury Court, Concord, MA is to be planned in the coming weeks, but has not yet been scheduled.


 

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